Crowd controls inside the venue
Take reasonable steps to ensure pedestrian routes are not blocked by attractions, stalls and concessions or filter directly into front-of-stage areas. This will help avoid congestion, which if left unchecked, could lead to ‘pinch-points’ and overcrowding.
Anticipate crowd surges or pushing, eg when the action in the venue becomes particularly exciting, leading to excess pressure and overcrowding - standing areas are particularly vulnerable. For example:
- an audience may move forward as the main act comes on stage at a music concert
- reaction to bad weather and a crowd’s movement towards covered areas
- mass movement of people from one attraction or performance to another
- people rushing forward to get a better view
Protect areas where people are vulnerable to crushing, eg in front of a stage. At larger events, it is sometimes effective to subdivide the audience into separate areas using barrier systems, which reduces the effects of sway and surge.
Make sure pedestrians and vehicles can circulate safely onsite to help ensure transport safety.
Design viewing areas so an audience has good sight lines to any stage areas. This reduces the tendency of people to crush together or surge to get a better view. You can use strategically placed video or projection screens to encourage people to use less crowded areas.
To prevent collapse, structures should be designed to accommodate synchronised crowd movement like dancing. For seated areas, ensure that the distance between rows of seats is sufficient to enable people to move in and out freely.
Crowd management staff and command structures
Everyone, including volunteers, should have the information, instruction and training needed to work safely and without risks to health.
There should also be an appropriate level of competent supervision, proportionate to the risk, nature of the event and the personnel involved. For example, stewards with a responsibility to manage prohibited areas and/or operate rescue equipment should be competent to do so. Practice may be required to remain competent.
Your staff numbers and command structure will depend on the size, complexity and risks involved at the event. A large crowd may require the appointment of a chief steward or audience manager, supported by a senior supervisor and a number of other supervisors to coordinate the management of staff under normal and emergency situations.
You should provide visitors with suitable and sufficient information to help ensure their health and safety. Communicate effectively with the public before, during and after the event, for example by providing information on tickets, websites and via social media about the venue layout and any risks associated with the event activity, such as watching motorsport.
Provide an appropriate number of signposts and/or stewards wearing tabards on the day to direct people to safe walkways, viewing areas and to prevent people from entering prohibited areas.
Make sure the flow of essential information between all staff concerned with crowd management is effective during normal operations and in emergencies. Crowd incidents can develop very quickly; good communications enable you to make a rapid and organised response.
Having a central location or control point to coordinate the flow of information can assist key decision makers to:
- gain an overall picture at the venue, eg crowd size, build-up of queues, serious incidents
- coordinate the response of all staff responsible for crowd management
- coordinate actions with the emergency services and/or other external bodies
For small venues, the control point could be a manager’s office, a tent or a cabin, with basic communication equipment (eg telephone and a two-way radio).
For a street event, you may need to choose a ‘primary site’ to base the control point (eg the beginning or end of a carnival route).
Provide for any potential failure of electrical communications systems with, for example:
- spare batteries, mobile phones and/or two-way radios
- back-up loud hailers in the event of failure of the public address (PA) system
- at larger venues, back-up power supply for the PA system
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