At Christmas time, nothing is really what you’d call ‘situation normal’! People are busy thinking about the festivities and food and holidays, and whether they will have enough gifts for everyone on Christmas day, and so on
The same often applies to churches and faith centres. During the Advent season, churches and faith centres can experience more visitors than usual. They may also hold all kinds of events – from fancy celebratory Christmas parties to sparkling Christmas Carol nights. With extra visitors and goings-on comes extra risk – so it’s important at this time of year to be well-prepared and to have good risk management in place. Here are some tips.
Christmas carols and other events
If you are planning Carols by Candlelight or another event such as a Christmas play or pageant, there are several things to be aware of.
You should notify your insurer if:
- You intend holding your event away from your premises, such as in a public park. In this case you should also contact your local council regarding permits.
- You are planning to do a fireworks display. This will also require permits, such as a permit to discharge fireworks and possibly a WorkSafe permit.
- You intend serving alcohol. However we would presume that a family Christmas event would normally be alcohol free – in which case you will need a plan in place for enforcing the rules.
Risk management tips for Christmas events:
- Candle safety – make sure to provide non-flammable holders for candles, or opt for a flame-free alternative such as LEDs, glowsticks or battery-operated candle lights.
- Prevention of slips, trips and falls – if the event will be held in the dark (e.g. at a carols evening or in a darkened theatre environment) make sure to provide sufficient lighting for visibility and to prevent slips and falls. It’s also important to check for and remove trip hazards such as loose cables.
- First-Aid – having a First Aider on hand is recommended. Make sure any First Aiders you appoint hold up-to-date, nationally-recognised qualifications.
- Music / copyright – traditional carols are usually in the public domain, which means their lyrics can be copied and distributed without any problem. You will most likely need permission however for songs still under copyright. A full list of carols and copyright statuses can be downloaded from APRA.
- Cash – if you will be handling cash at your event, such as for fundraising, you need to consider how cash will be collected and secured.
- Christmas decorations / trees – most people love a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, especially children. Make sure your tree is stable and does not cause any obstruction. It’s also important to check that Christmas lights are safe to use and in good order.
- Food safety – if you will be serving or selling food make sure to first check your state’s food health and safety regulations.
- Volunteers – it’s important that volunteers at your event are visible and easily identifiable. You may also need to roster on extra volunteers for ushering and car-park duties.
Worker health and safety
Being such a busy time of year can mean extra stress – including heat stress in the summer. So it’s important to look after your workers and volunteers. This includes:
- Avoiding outdoor work (e.g. setting up for an event) during the hottest parts of the day.
- Encouraging workers to wear hats and sunscreen when outdoors.
- Providing plenty of refreshments – especially cool drinks to prevent dehydration.
- Making sure workers and volunteers take regular breaks.
Keeping your congregation cool
A building full of hot people in the summer can quickly heat up. Make sure to look after your congregants and visitors by:
- Taking steps to keep your building cool. This includes keeping your air conditioning in good condition, shading your building where possible, and providing fans if necessary.
- Looking out for anyone showing signs of heat stress or illness.
- Handing out bottles of water when the mercury starts rising,
Good security is always important but at this time of year when situations can be different from the norm, it pays to be extra vigilant about security procedures. Tips include secure locking systems, window protection, and locking away of valuable items and cash.
Review of risk management
Many people see Christmas as a time to reflect. It can also make it a good time to review your risk management policies and procedures to see how well they are working. Here are some examples:
- Fire safety – such as taking steps to protect your property from arson.
- Essential safety measures – includes testing and tagging of your electrical equipment, and ensuring your fire equipment is regularly tested and that you know how to use it in an emergency.
- Evacuation and disaster recovery – for dealing with and recovering from emergency situations.
The better-prepared you are ahead of time for the festive season, the more you should be able to relax and enjoy the festivities and celebrations when the time comes. Merry Christmas!
See more posts on event safety here.
Written by Tess OliverTags: health & safety, risk management