5 key principles in ISO 45001 to ensure safety at major sporting events

Safety at major sporting events, whether indoor or outdoor, is a major concern these days. Tragic incidents over the last 20 years in Europe have resulted in multiple losses of lives, and with the added threat of terrorist activity in recent years, ensuring control and safety of crowds at sporting events has never been so important or challenging. So, with organizations responsible for sporting events facing these challenges, should ISO 45001:2018 principles become central to ensuring that sporting events can be managed correctly and risk to spectator safety mitigated?

ISO 45001: What parts should be used?

The “plan, do, check, act” cycle, which you can find out more about in the article The importance of the plan-do-check-act cycle in ISO 45001, is central to the ISO 45001 standard and also key to ensuring safety at major sporting events. Whether outdoors or in a stadium, careful planning and mitigation of risk is key to ensuring spectator safety. So, how can ISO 45001 principles be used to this end? Let’s examine in detail:

  1. Hazard identification, risk assessment, and determining controls: This is the single most important factor in helping to ensure safety at a sporting event. It is critical to put effort, time, and expertise into the planning and hazard identification phase. Whether indoor or outdoor, it is wise to address concerns such as the following:
    • Does your venue comply with safety regulations? Is the seating regulated and controlled to ensure that only the correct number of people can gain entrance? Similarly, are standing areas controlled in terms of numbers?
    • Has the risk of fire been correctly assessed? Do you have working and tested fire extinguishers available? Are safety exits clearly marked and can rules be communicated to spectators in case of emergency?
    • Do you have the correct support staff? Do you have trained first aid representatives correctly nominated to the appropriate areas? Do you have the correct first aid equipment – stretchers, first aid kits, resuscitation kit, and so on?
    • Are you reasonably protected against terrorist threat? Do you need staff or equipment to perform searches on spectator entry? Does your risk assessment suggest that you should scan spectators on entry? Do you need x-ray or handheld scanners? Inside the event, do you have staff scanning areas such as trash cans for potential suspect devices?
    • Evacuation plans: do you have a plan to evacuate in case of an incident? As above, do you have a method of communicating this to the spectators? Lack of spectator knowledge can raise the risk of accident during evacuation, and this also needs to be considered.
  1. Resources, responsibilities, and organization: As we have touched on above, the importance of staff in the appropriate places is critical. Also critical are the deployment, organization, and responsibilities of the staff. Ensure you have the correct resources in the correct place, not only with the correct skillset, but also with a clear vision of the objectives – individually and overall – that the organization needs to achieve to maintain spectator safety.
  2. Competence and awareness: Again, this element ties the effective safety management together if delivered correctly to your employees. Ensuring your employees have the correct training and knowledge ensures that a correctly positioned staff can deliver the safety management to meet your organization’s objectives.
  3. Participation and consultation: Again, this is critical. Use the knowledge your employees have from previous positions and knowledge gained from historical sporting events – both positive and negative – to ensure you have the maximum information on hand to make decisions. Encouraging participation and consultation is also an excellent team-building tool. Find out more about this topic in the article How to meet participation and consultation requirements in ISO 45001.
  4. Emergency preparedness and control: As discussed above, emergency preparedness, including evacuation plans, must be made in advance. This also must be communicated effectively, or could be literally useless.

Obviously, tying all these elements together with your objectives can bring your team a shared vision of what you hope to achieve, with prevention being better than cure in the case of maintaining safety at an event.  It may be wise to draw a plan for each individual event to ensure your team can share an accurate knowledge of objectives, process, and responsibility, as opposed to one generic OH&S Policy, which may suit some event types, and not others. This type of strategic planning and decision making can be given by your organization’s top management, who can provide the leadership to ensure all the elements are in place to deliver a successful event.

ISO 45001: Is it the answer?

There is no doubt that the critical elements of ISO 45001, when used correctly, can underpin an organization’s ability to deliver a safe and well-organized sporting event. It is suggested that the “plan” phase is particularly vital, as we have seen major incidents or injury and death caused at sporting events in the recent past, and while corrective action is desirable then, prevention through effective hazard identification is more desirable still. Ensure your planning phase is detailed, thorough, and organized, and your sports event can be the same.

Why not use our free  Gap Analysis Tool to measure your organization’s standing against the ISO 45001 standard?

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.