When it comes to getting ready for an event or exhibition, there are so many things to consider.
From your stand design and logistics to staffing and marketing materials, getting everything right is essential.
With so many things to think about, you’d be forgiven for overlooking one of the most critical factors in preparing for an event – health & safety.
While thinking about what might go wrong at your next event might seem negative and unproductive, the reality is it’s a vital part of the event planning process.
Not only will it help ensure everything runs smoothly on your stand, it will also help you minimise your risks and keep your team and delegates safe, as well as saving you money, hassle and heartache in the long run.
After all, a health & safety breach on your stand could prove costly to resolve and – in an era of smartphone cameras and social media – do massive damage to your brand and reputation.
Getting things right from the outset is crucial. It’s about thinking carefully about the potential risks and how you’re going to manage them.
There are many health and safety considerations that exhibitors don’t think about ahead of time. While some of them – fire, electrical and trip hazards – may seem obvious, others often get overlooked, which can cause significant problems on the day.
So, when it comes to planning your next exhibition stand, working with an experienced event partner like Exhibit Interactive will help you identify and understand any potential health and safety risks and how you can address them.
This will help you prioritise your time, budget and resources and ensure you can deliver an engaging, memorable – but most of all, safe – experience to the visitors to your stand.
Here are some of the top health & safety considerations to bear in mind for your next event.
With many events, there are a lot of hoops to jump through and boxes to tick before you can even begin to think about what you’re going to do on the day. Most event organisers require businesses to provide the following documents before they grant permission to exhibit at their event:
Detailed stand drawings
Risk assessment (see below)
Proof of insurance (see below)
Many event organisers also charge a stand inspection fee of £100 or more to ensure every stand meets the relevant health & safety standards for the venue.
And most stands over four metres tall also require structural calculations to show they are of sound construction and have the correct load-bearing capacity. These can cost anything upwards of £500 to produce.
At Exhibit Interactive, we include both these additional costs as standard, so our clients can enjoy complete transparency and peace of mind.
As mentioned above, one of the things you’ll need to provide as part of the booking process is a risk assessment.
This document is a legal requirement that sets out how you have assessed any potential health & safety risks on your exhibition stand and how you plan to manage them.
Submitting a risk assessment doesn’t mean you’re guaranteeing that there won’t be any incidents on your stand. However, it does show that you’ve taken the time to think about how you plan to reduce the risk of accidents happening – and their severity if they do occur.
From a legal perspective, if an accident did happen on your stand, you may need to prove you took all reasonable steps to prevent it from happening. Your risk assessment will form an essential part of this proof in the event of a claim.
Failure to undertake and document a thorough risk assessment could leave you and your business liable for the accident, which could prove costly to resolve and damage your brand’s reputation.
If you’re using a contractor to build your stand, you should request a risk assessment from them to ensure they are taking all necessary precautions to minimise any risks with the design, installation and take-down of your exhibition space.
It’s also vital to consider any potential risks on the stand during the event itself that your contractor’s risk assessment might not cover. For example, do you plan to use any technology or machinery on your stand that may pose a hazard? Are there any free-standing display units or plinths that could get knocked over and injure someone?
Getting a complete understanding of everything that could possibly go wrong, so you can plan for every eventuality, is the best way to protect yourself and keep your stand visitors safe.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that anyone working on your stand during the installation and break-down should wear personal protective equipment such as hard hats, steel toe-capped boots and hi-vis vests. In noisy environments, ear protectors are also recommended.
Most event organisers insist on exhibitors having the correct insurance in place before they are allowed to take part. It would be dangerous to assume the organiser’s insurance automatically covers your stand.
There are a few things to think about here.
Public liability insurance will cover your business against accidental injuries to the public and accidental damage to third party property on your exhibition stand. Employers’ liability insurance will cover damages, expenses and claimants’ costs relating to injury to any volunteers, employees, temporary workers or helpers on your exhibition stand.
And as exhibiting at an event or trade show can represent a significant financial investment, it may also be worth considering event cancellation insurance. This can cover some of the costs you incur, such as booking fees or equipment hire, should you have to cancel your appearance at an exhibition for reasons beyond your control.
When it comes to protecting your equipment, event equipment insurance covers accidental damage, loss or theft of items brought or hired for an event that aren’t already part of the venue’s fixtures or fittings. You should bear in mind that any equipment or items – such as LED screens or other tech – are not usually insured in transit or during the installation or take-down of your exhibition stand, so it may be worth arranging additional cover for these.
There are many hazards to bear in mind when it comes to designing, building and running an exhibition stand. Many of these should come to light if you’ve done a thorough risk assessment. An experienced event partner will also help ensure you’re aware of the most obvious and less common risks and have a plan in place to deal with them.
Trip hazards are one of the biggest potential safety risks on an exhibition stand.
Steps, wires and cabling, water and waste pipes, and loose, slippery or uneven flooring can all create trip hazards, especially if your stand has lots of technology or requires multiple power sources.
In many venues, electric points are in the floor rather than overhead, which means your stand designer needs to know precisely where they are and get creative with their designs to accommodate them.
Building your stand on a platform to hide any wires and other potential dangers is another way around this, although this can create a tripping hazard in itself, especially if the stand is not designed and built right.
The key is intelligent design and working with an experienced event partner, like Exhibit Interactive. We can create and build a stand to the venue’s specifications while ensuring it can safely accommodate all the tech, equipment and other features you need for a great event.
When it comes to the materials and equipment you use on your stand, some common sense is required. You won’t, for example, be allowed to use any hazardous materials such as toxic substances, flammable liquids/gases, exposed flames or naked lights, explosives, pyrotechnics or combustible materials, compressed gas cylinders, lasers or strobe lighting.
It’s also essential to ensure your stand is made of flame-proof materials to minimise the fire risk.
While taking some printed marketing materials may be unavoidable, replacing these with digital or virtual alternatives can be safer and more sustainable, and make them more engaging for your visitors.
When you’re designing your stand, it’s vital to ensure that any ceilings or hanging elements – such as lights or display boards – are high enough to accommodate taller visitors.
It’s also essential to bear in mind that most stands over four metres tall, including mezzanine or double-decker stands, are subject to much stricter rules and regulations.
These include how many staircases are required – it can cost thousands of pounds to install an extra staircase – and the distance between exit points to help minimise fire risks.
As mentioned earlier, double-decker stands also require detailed structural plans to ensure they can bear the weight of multiple visitors to the top floor at any one time.
As an aside, as well as the safety issues associated with double-decker stands, there are also accessibility issues to consider. The Disability Discrimination Act states that the same facilities must be available both upstairs and downstairs on a two-storey stand, so people who can’t access the top floor can still experience them.
Ready to talk about your next project?
If you’re planning an exhibition but aren’t really sure where to start when it comes to health & safety, Exhibit Interactive can help. We’ve delivered thousands of exhibition stands for clients at venues across the UK and beyond.
We offer a wide range of fresh, innovative and compelling solutions to help you deliver a remarkable experience to your visitors. From custom-built and modular exhibition stands to shell schemes, starter and self-build kits, we’ll work with you to ensure your stand meets all the relevant health & safety regulations, so your event goes without a hitch. Get in touch to find out more.