2.1 Health, work environment and safety

We can’t include all the details surrounding the total security of an event, but we wish to take a closer look at the most important things*. The Norwegian Rock Association provides good tips on their web page (www.norock.no). Here you will also find information concerning the kinds of application forms and permits you will need to attain (in a Norwegian context). The example is originally drawn up by the Bergen (Norwegian city) municipality, but could also be useful to others.

Important laws and regulations

The regulations state that «All businesses that produce, sell or offer goods or services must stay abreast of and have ready access to the regulations that at any time pertain to their respective business.» This is also true for events. The most important laws of relevance are: The Working Environment Act, Vaktvirksomhetsloven (Guard Institutions Act), Peronsvernsloven (Privacy Act), Serveringsloven, Skjenkelovenkr and Brannvernloven (Fire Protection Act). Extensive information can be found on www.regelhjelp.no, where you can search within the field of «Drift av underholdningsvirksomhet» and retrieve relevant laws and regulations. The full laws and regulations can be found on www.lovdata.no.

The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority, the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB), the Norwegian Industrial Safety and Security Organisation (NSO) and the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) have the main supervisory responsibility for ensuring that all enterprises work systematically with health, environment and safety (Systematic Health, Environment and Safety Activities – HES). Their task is to ensure that the regulations relating to HES, the so-called Internal Control Regulations, are met in work places.

The Working Environment Act

Festivals and other events are places of work that, like all other businesses, must see to the welfare and security of their employees and volunteers.  All volunteers should be considered as employees. That means, among other things, that you need insurance for all of them. You also need the appropriate protective equipment, like helmets, harnesses, and proper footwear for e.g. stage rigging. Other areas that need specialized expertise are work tasks related to electricity and water supply. The security of the artists/performers and audience is also extremely important, and you should hire a chief of security.

You must ensure that all festival/event personnel working with security are at all times up-to-date on all internal plans, routines and instructions. In that way, you will avoid misunderstandings and delays if an accident should happen

The HMS (Health, environment and safety) regulations state that you must have written descriptions of:

  • The organization’s goals for health, environment and safety
  • How your organization is structured; what is the distribution of responsibilities and tasks
  • How the mapping of personal risk has been carried out (letters, reports, measurement results etc.)
  • What is to be done, when and by whom, to promote health, the environment and the safety of those involved (plan of action)
  • Routines for handling mistakes and problems
  • How the HMS-routines are examined to ensure that they work according to plan

For  smaller events with fewer hazardous activities, this shouldn’t take too long. Still, it is important that you think through all areas, and adjust the system to precisely those conditions that are relevant for you. If you yourselves don’t have the opportunity to produce a reliable risk assessment, you should contact someone who can, e.g. the police- or fire department, or health personnel.

The Working Environment Act states that businesses with more than ten permanent employees must appoint a safety deputy. The safety deputy and manager must be trained in HMS-work and monitor the working environment. Depending on the number of employees, several safety deputies can be elected, together with a chief safety deputy. These must be trained and given time to perform their duties. And remember that even if you don’t have a safety deputy, your business should still feature someone with knowledge of HMS-work. For more information, see www.arbeidstilsynet.no.

*Based on: Methodology, Process and Tools by Kristian Svantorp, Head of Security, the Øya Festival. Kristian Svantorp has worked out a comprehensive security system and contingency plan for the Øya Festival. Advice and comments also from Espen Hille, Production Manager, the Quart Festival 2004.

Risk assessment

The head of security must do a survey of the different areas of the event. Put together a list of what kinds of services you will need regarding security and patrol guards, as well as what kind of equipment will be necessary for maintaining safety and security.

Risk assessment, in its simplest form, requires you to consider the following:

  • What can go wrong?
  • What can be done to prevent that it goes wrong?
  • What can be done to contain consequences?
  • What do we do if something still goes wrong?

Ask the questions

  • Where do crowds gather?
  • What is required to promote safety in these areas?
  • How much safety personnel is required and how should they be equipped?

During the survey you must try to think of every possible incident that might take place in the different areas. In that way, you can prepare yourselves for how unforeseen incidents should be handled. Make an overview in which all activities are described, with clear deadlines and allocations of responsibility. Clear guidelines and clear responsibility allocation are highly important, as they will help you avoid confusion, disagreement and misunderstandings in critical situations

Security guards, security and contingency plans

Work out security, evacuation, sanitary/medical and contingency plans, as well as warning routines for all of these, in co-operation with the police, the fire service and health authorities. Make a list of what kind of warning equipment you will need, as well as a plan for thorough training in the use of said equipment.

Security guards

Make a plan for security maintenance which describes placement, responsibility allocation and the chain of command. It is important to have clear guidelines on the responsibilities of the event’s own security personnel. For example, at what point will the security personnel’s responsibility end and the police be contacted?

At large events which gather vast numbers of people, crowd management is very important. This means that security guards must, at all times, pay attention to the crowd flow and have a plan for being able to survey and control it.

At spots where large numbers of people gather, barricades or fences must be put up to control the crowd. In order to improve public safety, many festivals/events have chosen to prohibit crowd surfing.


The Øya- and Roskilde festivals both inform their audiences of the prohibition against crowd surfing in numerous ways: on screens during the concerts, on notices throughout the festival area, on the festival programme, and online.

In an emergency situation it must be possible to pass on messages to the audience. It is very important that the chain of command among the security guards is clear, and that only one person decides what information the audience should be given. If not, misunderstandings could easily arise.

Fire protection

Work out clear routines on fire extinguishing in co-operation with the fire service. Make a list of what equipment you will need and where it should be placed. Contact the local waterworks authorities and get a map of fire hydrant placement, and make sure the hydrants remain accessible and unblocked.

Remember routines for safe storage of gas. This is controlled by regulations, and the local fire department can help you.

Medical emergency preparedness

Concerning medical emergency preparedness, it is highly important to have enough personnel with the right competence! Enter into co-operation with the local health authorities, the local Red Cross, the civil defence or other relevant organisations. You must have enough personnel to be able to handle at least two emergencies at once. With expert help, work out a warning plan/system for personal injuries, accidents, disturbances/fighting and fire outbreaks. The plan must include contact persons (phone list) and allocation of responsibility. Every member of the festival staff must be familiar with the plan and be given a copy.

Everything from grave accidents to minor injuries may occur, and it is very important that everybody knows how to handle such situations. During the event, situations may occur where employees and volunteers need medical assistance. This could include anything: from a small, merely uncomfortable, incident to a serious crisis. Therefore, it would be a good idea to have a separate medical team dedicated to employees and volunteers at the event.


You come across a person who is hurt and semi-conscious/unconscious. Routine: notify the medical service and provide information on where the victim was found, whether the victim is male or female, age (approx.), type of injury (fall injury, fight, sudden pain, fainting fit, etc.), degree of consciousness (whether the victim reacts to a pinch in the arm), if the person in question is under the influence of alcohol or any other substance, if he or she is by herself or with friends. The medical officer will take charge and decide what needs to be done from here.


Make a note of all experiences on the way. If problems arise, the chain of events should be noted down: what caused the incident, the nature of the incident itself, and what happened in its wake. After the event a report should be written which evaluates everything relating to security and emergency preparedness. Everyone involved in security and patrolling should be allowed to provide comments. And also remember to obtain such reports from your partners and sponsors. In that way, you will be much better prepared for carrying out the event the next time around.

Heavy lifting and bad working positions

During the rig and the de-rig before and after large events, there is always the risk of big accidents occurring; there may be large machines present, with lots of heavy equipment, that move around within a relatively small area. But as a general rule, small accidents are more frequent, including the commonly seen minor cuts in hands and feet. Formulate work routines and train those involved, so that they all understand what clothes and safety equipment to use. This may include the use of working gloves, proper shoes that cover the entire foot (not sandals or slippers), as well as helmets. You need to have the relevant equipment at your disposal. Where there is need for manual transportation of heavy equipment and material, trolleys should be available.

Festivals and other events involve a lot of sitting and standing. This imposes demands on the flooring, furniture and general interior designs. The event host should ensure that heavy lifting and bad working positions are avoided by both employees and volunteers. In areas where the personnel will be standing for prolonged periods of time, e.g. stalls that serve food, special floor mats can be placed. Such mats will reduce the strain on the back and legs. Several different types of mats specially designed for various types of flooring conditions are available.

Indoor climate

Regarding the choice of indoor premises, it is important to check if the ventilation is sufficient compared to the number of people that will be present.


Noise is defined as unwanted sound. What qualifies as unwanted sound will vary from person to person, and from situation to situation. What is perceived as great music by some, may sound like noise to others. Remember also that continual exposure to moderately loud sound can be as damaging as high volume sound can be in a short period of time.

The sound produced by outdoor concerts or by the use of loudspeakers at other kinds of events carries far. It is therefore important that the host takes steps to ensure that the neighbours of the event premises are bothered as little as possible.

There are no separate laws or regulations that define maximum sound levels at festivals and outdoor events. The host must contact the health authorities of the municipality where the event is to be held and find out what regulations apply in that particular municipality. For example, the Oslo municipality has introduced limitations which state that events/festivals can be held no more than 6 times a year on the same location, and that they must be finished no later than 11.00 PM.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has a guide with recommended limits for sound levels. For more information, visit www.fhi.no.

But it is not only loudspeakers that can cause noise at an event. The transportation of people, goods and equipment may also produce noise. The same applies to the rigging of stages.

Some simple tips on how to reduce noise levels*:

  • Place the stage and loudspeakers in a way that produces less unwanted sound
  • Use directional loudspeakers that limit and concentrate the sound in one area
  • Place several loudspeakers around the area, and not only by the stage. In that way the sound will also be distributed better among the audience
  • If possible, avoid transportation routes through residential areas

* Source: Outdoor Music Events, published the Danish Ministry of the Environment

Accessibility for the handicapped

In order for handicapped people to be able to attend your event, you must make the necessary preparations. You can do this by paying mind to the following factors*:

  • Parking: reserve parking spaces for wheelchair users right next to the entrance. Allow for extra space, so that there will be room to lower/raise a ramp. Mark these parking spaces well!
  • Access roads: the ground should be solid (grass or asphalt, not gravel), as that will make for easy access. Walkways must be wide enough for wheelchairs (manual or electric).
  • Lifts/ramps: where there are stairs, a lift or ramp must be available for wheelchair users. The maximum gradient for ramps should be no more than 1 unit high for every 15 unit long , preferably 1 for 20, and they should be equipped with grab bars.
  • Toilet facilities: the entrance must be flat, without differences in level. The toilet must be 46-50 cm high, and there must be grab handles on both sides. Minimum door width is 90 cm.
  • Stage view: It is important that you reserve an area for wheelchair users that offers a clear view of the stage. This area should be easily accessible, as its users will appreciate being able to leave and come back without requiring the assistance of others.


  • Have all necessary laws and regulations available
  • Follow the HES regulations. You must be able to document that preventive measures have been carried out
  • Make a risk assessment – prepare for the unforeseen
  • Organise working conditions to ensure the least possible strain on back and legs
  • Stock necessary safety equipment, such as working gloves, protective footwear and helmets available
  • Make plans for security, evacuation, fire and health services
  • Place first aid and fire extinguishing equipment in easily accessible locations. Personnel with knowledge of and training in the use of the equipment must be present
  • Personnel with first aid training must be present
  • Emergency exits and routes must be kept clear at all times during the event
  • Emergency exits must be marked well
  • Contact the municipal health services to attain the maximum limits on sound levels
  • Remember to place loudspeakers adequately
  • Make the event accessible for the handicapped
  • Note down all experiences along the way
  • Remember to make a post-event evaluation

* Based on comments from Hilde Fjærgaard, the Norwegian Association for the Handicapped

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