Last Updated on January 25, 2023 by Mark Norman
Whatever the size of event you are planning, you will likely need to consider what your first aid requirements will be. This article looks at what the legal requirements are for first aid at for events.
DISCLAIMER: Please bear in mind that this article is written for a UK audience, although it does highlight best practise which should be relevant in most other countries. It’s your responsibility to check the legal requirements of the country in which you operate. If you are unsure, please consult with a safety expert to advise you of the requirements.
First Aid Legal Requirements at Events
In the UK, first aid legal requirements at events are covered by the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981. These regulations require all employers to provide ‘adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities, and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work’. The HSE recommends including event attendees also.
Additionally, there is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which covers most employer activities and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999. Both of these include the requirement to assess and protect workers. The MHSWR (specifically) introduced the legal need to undertake risk assessments. As an event organiser, you have a legal duty of care to event attendees. Part of this included adequately assessing the first aid requirements for your event.
Event organisers could be prosecuted for breaching these pieces of legislation so it is worth knowing what they are and how they might affect you. If you use volunteers for your event, they are classed as employees, and you still need to undertake the same steps and precautions.
It’s worth remembering that an event site is a workplace from the moment you arrive to start the setup to leaving following close down. In the case of large-scale events, this can include hundreds of people being onsite for days beforehand.
Event organisers have a legal requirement to assess the first aid requirements of that work in addition to the actual ‘event’ opening hours.
There isn’t a law that specifically mentions legal requirements for first aid for event attendees. Still, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strongly recommends that members of the public are included in any risk assessment undertaken for first aid requirements.
If your event is taking place on publicly owned land, you may need to participate in a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) during the event planning process. SAGs are forums co-ordinated by your local authority and include representatives from the emergency services and other relevant parties. They do not have any legal powers or responsibilities. Still, they provide an excellent opportunity to engage with people who can help you to meet your legal requirements for first aid amongst many other things.
Remember that the event organiser (you!) has the overall legal duty for ensuring public safety. You can not absolve yourself of this or pass it onto another person.
Legal, moral and financial reasons
Yes, there are legal requirements to provide suitable adequate first aid provision, but there are also moral and financial reasons for doing so.
From a moral perspective making sure that you have the right requirements in place is great for your event reputation. Event attendees will want to know you take safety seriously and that you provide adequate first aid facilities for them should accidents or injuries occur. Attendees might be less likely to attend any event where they perceive this isn’t the case.
Beyond legal and moral requirements, there is also a need to consider financial reasons. From an economic perspective having good quality first aid cover means taking care of people and reducing the chance of an injury becoming severe. If this were not the case, a first aid incident could escalate, or someone was seriously injured or killed. In this case, your approach to first aid provision will likely be called into question, and if you haven’t followed the right guidance could be open to prosecution or civil court cases.
How do I comply with the legal requirements?
Event Medical Risk Assessment
You should carry out a medical risk assessment of the build, event and takedown phases assessing things such as:
- How many staff will be onsite at any one time?
- What tasks will they be doing and are some more hazardous than others?
- Are there any dangerous materials included (e.g. pyrotechnic chemicals)?
- How many vehicles are needed onsite, and what type (e.g. cranes)?
- How far away is the nearest hospital?
- What is the nature of the event?
- What is the nature of the venue?
- What is the audience profile?
- Any known history of the event (records of incidents)?
- What is the expected attendance
- What time of the year is the event taking place?
- Are there any additional hazards (e.g. fire breathers)?
- Do staff need to travel, work remotely or are lone workers?
Again, if you are unsure about how to undertake a medical risk assessment, you should seek help from a competent safety consultant. Risk assessments should be carried out by competent individuals to ensure they cover all possible hazards.
Undertaking suitable training allows you to become competent in undertaking a medical risk assessment; there are lots of options available in the UK, see our resources page for further information.
Event Medical Plan
You need to write a specific medical plan for your event that includes all of the information around your event medical provision based on the risk assessment you have written. For larger or high-risk events (e.g. motorsport) this may warrant being a separate document. In the case of smaller events, you may include it as part of an overall event safety management plan document.
This medical plan should include elements such as:
- Medical Risk Assessment
- Level of medical provision to be present (all various stages)
- Who is providing the medical provision?
- Location of the nearest accident and emergency hospital
- A suitable system for recording incidents and any treatments given (including RIDDOR)
- Emergency Plan
- Major incident procedure
- Communication Plan
- What mobile response do you have on site?
There are some useful sources of information and help available when planning medical provision at events, some of which are listed below for further reading.