Special Events - Risk Management

​Before your organization hosts a special event, know and understand all associated risks and take steps to prevent or mitigate them.

15 Ways to Identify and Manage Special Events Risks​

  1. Understand the risks involved:
    1. Does the event involve physical activities? Performing physical activities may require medical examination forms, waivers and/or informed consent to be completed.
    2. Is food served at the event? Additional risks exist when food is cooked and/or served, such as employee/volunteer injuries (burns, etc.), food poisoning, fires, etc.
    3. Is travel required? If so, what type of transportation will be used (e.g., bus, automobile, plane, etc.)? Risks associated with travelling include vehicle collisions, delays, passenger safety, etc.
    4. Is the event outdoors? Consider such risks as weather and use of temporary structures. Make contingency plans.
    5. Will alcohol be served? Risks are involved with patron and public safety when alcohol is served. See liquor liability for more information.
    6. Are there any activities that may be contracted out? Contracting may decrease control and decrease risk. However, for risk to be effectively transferred, an appropriate contract, including a hold harmless and indemnification clause, must be drafted. The third party should have the financial resources to cover losses that may occur and purchase insurance. Other conditions may be required for risk to be effectively transferred. Consult a lawyer for more details. In addition:
      • You may want to sign a hold harmless and indemnification agreement stating that the organizers will not be responsible for property damage and/or injuries and that any service provider will indemnify the organizers for any claims due to the service provider’s negligence. Consult a lawyer for more information.
      • Request an insurance certificate from the contractor (service provider) as evidence of liability insurance. Make sure the insurance certificate names your organization as an additional insured and that it also contains a cross-liability clause. Consult an insurance representative for more information.
    7. Will minors attend the event? Occupiers owe a higher standard of care to minors. Events with minors in attendance require more supervision and security.
    8. Is cash stored on the premises? Financial management procedures must be considered if cash is present. Theft is a serious issue.
  2. Facilities should be appropriate for the event – they may not be appropriate if they prevent your event from occurring. For example, bad weather, inadequate space for participants or lack of equipment may prevent an event from occurring.
  3. Contact your insurance representative. Let your representative know all of the details of the event and get confirmation that the event is covered.
  4. Design a sitemap. The site map should identify all exits and entrances, first-aid stations, temporary structures, beer gardens, barricades/pylons/fencing, portable washrooms, fireworks storage, emergency vehicle access, food/merchandise vendors, etc.
  5. Implement crowd control and other security measures.
    1. The level of security needed will vary depending on the type of event and the kind of audience that is attracted.
    2. Have security guards patrol the area. Require security guards to carry and show identification cards.
    3. Consider the use of photo ID badges for staff and volunteers.
    4. Create a policy to allow for the reasonable removal of patrons who may cause harm to themselves or to others.
    5. Use video surveillance. Keep in mind privacy restrictions.
  6. Create contingency plans for emergency situations (e.g., out of control crowd, fire, power failure, poor weather, etc.)
  7. Place signage that that indicates locations of the closest:
    1. First-aid station
    2. Emergency exits
    3. Security office.
  8. Place trash cans around the area to discourage people from littering. Litter may cause people to slip, trip and fall.

  9. Implement a financial management system. Create cash handling and payment procedures.
  10. Consider implementing a program for helping lost children find their parents or guardians.
  11. Screen and hire appropriate employees and volunteers.
  12. Train employees and volunteers. Keep detailed records of the shifts and locations for which employees/volunteers are responsible.
  13. Ensure that communication devices – such as cellphones, tablets, laptop computers, two-way radios or a public announcement system – are available and used by employees/volunteers.
  14. Allow patrons to provide feedback and complaints. This can help your organization plan for the next special event.
  15. Assess the event afterward.
    1. Determine if risk management techniques were used.
    2. Determine if those techniques were effective.
    3. Consider whether there were any unforeseen problems and how they could be prevented in the future.
    4. Consider whether or not the event should be held again and what improvements should be made.

Learn more about protecting yourself from the potential claims of others. Refer to your municipality’s website for more information regarding special event applications, permits, etc. ​


Source: Compiled with Canadian Risk Intervention Inc.