Using barriers at events

Barriers at events serve several purposes:

  • help manage and influence the behaviour of crowds, to line routes and to prevent visitors climbing on top of temporary structures and putting themselves at risk of falling
  • relieve and prevent overcrowding and the build-up of audience pressure
  • provide physical security, as in the case of a high-perimeter fence at an outdoor event
  • shield hazards from people

If you decide to use barriers and fencing as a crowd management tool, they should be risk assessed. Depending on the complexity of the risk and barrier/s, you may need a source of competent advice to help you.

Choosing the right barriers

The factors you should take into account include:

  • the planned use of barriers
  • layout
  • ground conditions and topography
  • the presence of underground services, eg water pipes, electric cables that could restrict the use of pins to secure barriers
  • weather
  • load on the barrier – wind and/or crowd pressure
  • visitor numbers and behaviour

These and any other factors peculiar to the location will determine the type of barrier or fence you select. It is crucial that the type of barrier and fence you choose does not present greater risks than those they are intended to control. In some cases, barriers have failed due to incorrect selection.
Installing barriers

Installing simple barriers like rope and posts is relatively straightforward. However, for more complex barrier arrangements, like stage barriers, you will need a competent contractor to do this for you (a contractor with the skills, knowledge and experience of barrier use at similar events).

The deployment of barriers and fencing should be considered and integrated with your other crowd management procedures, eg use of stewards, to help achieve an all-round effective management of the risk. If appropriate, consult with a crowd management director on the use of barriers.

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Updated 2023-03-13