Risk management for activities and events
How to plan activities and events so that they're safe and fun
We’re committed to providing safe activities for both girls and volunteers. Carrying out effective risk assessments is key to making this happen.
But risk assessments don’t need to feel like hard work, - they can easily be incorporated when you’re planning activities, trips, residentials and anything else you do.
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Completing your risk assessment
Risk assessments help us identify the severity and chance of situations happening and weigh this up against the potential benefits of the activity.
Risk management is a cycle that needs to be repeated in order to be effective. The frequency of reassessment will depend on an activity, and new risks could occur that have not previous been assessed.
If you’re struggling to complete a risk assessment, speak to your local commissioner who will be able to support you with this.
Five things to think about when completing your risk assessment
When you complete your risk assessment, there are five key principles to think about:
When carrying out an activity it’s important to understand what hazards could be present.
Hazards are anything with the potential to cause harm (eg cars, trip hazards, exposed electrical wires, theft.).
It’s important to:
- Look – what hazards can you see? This will be the main way of identifying risks. Look at the venue you’re using and try to identify hazards as you walk around.
- Ask – have others used the space before? Is there an existing risk assessment for a space or activity that you could incorporate into your own risk assessment? (If you’re using a generic or pre-existing risk assessment make sure to double check that it’s recent and that you agree with the steps taken). Others may be able to identify risks that you haven’t noticed.
- Check – are there any manufacturer’s specifications (eg electrical items, chemicals, such as cleaning products, and equipment) that might be potential hazards?
- Consult – understand risks associated with people, such as health conditions, individual requirements or additional needs. It’s important to identify these and support individuals, rather than creating barriers to activities.
Once you’ve identified potential hazards associated with your activity or task, you need to work out who may be harmed as a result. This may change depending on the type of hazard.
Remember - people external to Girlguiding may be harmed by hazards or could themselves bring hazards and risks to your activity, for example they could be unfamiliar with the equipment or raise safeguarding concerns.
Consider the effect of hazards created by your activities on:
- Girlguiding volunteers and members
- Parents and carers
- Visitors external to Girlguiding
- Members of the public and other users of a venue or space
You need to consider what the harm could be – this could include broken limbs, burns, scalds, death, emotional impact etc.
It’s also important to consider any reputational risks that may arise as a result of incidents or activities. Make sure your actions don’t bring the reputation of Girlguiding into disrepute, in line with our Code of Conduct.
After you’ve identified hazards, you need to evaluate the risk and explore ways of controlling this risk.
It’s your responsibility to make sure risks are appropriately managed and that we protect people from harm that may arise from our activities.
Best practice is to try to remove the risk or hazard completely. If this isn’t possible, the aim is to control the risk as much as possible, so harm becomes unlikely.
- Is there a different option available that has a lower risk or a way of removing it?
- Can you reduce exposure to the hazard, or can you issue Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to reduce any necessary exposure, for example wearing goggles?
- What provision can be made to address any harm. For example, first aid training or first aid equipment, plans to get help, fire extinguishers?
- Control measures should be as simple as possible so that they are able to be implemented effectively, safely and promptly.
Once you’ve identified hazards and risk management solutions, it’s important that you record these on the Girlguiding risk assessment form.
Risk assessments should be accessible to anyone wishing to see them, those involved in risk management plans, or those that may be harmed as a result.
You need to make sure that they are written in simple language and shouldn't use abbreviations.
Make sure you record when actions are completed, if you need control measures in place before an event. You can make a list to make sure nothing gets missed.
You should talk to volunteers and young members about hazards and risks before carrying out an activity, including them in the solution and further minimising any risk.
Once a risk assessment has been carried out, it’s important to make sure it stays valid and applicable to an activity.
New hazards and changes to risks may occur, and risk management solutions may become ineffective over time. There may also be new ways of working that are now considered best practice, and it’s important to move towards adopting these in your approach.
Sometimes it can be good to ask someone else to review a risk assessment that you carry out regularly, to see if a fresh pair of eyes can spot anything new or that might have been missed before. They may also have some different ideas to manage the risk that you could share.
When reviewing risk assessments, it’s important to inform those involved or affected of any changes so that knowledge is kept up to date and in line with best practice.
Making a balanced decision
Once all the actions listed on a risk assessment are in place, we are looking for a way to eliminate or safely manage the risk of harm to ensure we can safely go ahead with an event/activity, having a degree of challenge, harm and risk whilst being confident that the control measures in place will keep girls safe.
This makes sure that we are responsibly keeping girls and members safe whilst ensuring that there is an appropriate developmental aspect to the activity.
Activities away from the meeting place
If you’re planning an activity that won’t take place in your normal meeting place, there are several things to consider:
- Whether the activity is appropriate to the age and ability of the participants
- How to take into accounts the needs of all participants (eg medical, dietary, faith, cultural etc)
- Whether the location, conditions and time of day are appropriate
- Appropriate clothing for weather/environmental conditions
- How to minimise impact on the environment
- Cancellations and the consequences this will bring
You can use the Adventure for Girls Finder for guidance and support around activities.
Remember – supervision ratios become mandatory when away from the normal meeting place.
On the day you should ensure that you have the following things available and accessible:
- First aid kit (and someone appropriately trained)
- Parental permission (for girls)
- Contact details for your local commissioner
- A home contact system in place
A leader must inform her local commissioner of any activity that takes place outside the normal meeting place or time and should ensure that parents are aware and have given the appropriate permissions.
External activity providers and adventurous activities
If the activity is not being organised within Girlguiding but is being provided by an outside organisation, whether on a commercial or a voluntary basis, some basic risk management steps should be taken before any agreement is made.
You should check that the activity provider:
- Is a member of the appropriate activity organisation
- Has given evidence of insurance cover
- Has carried out appropriate recruitment and vetting procedures for child protection and has an appropriate child protection/safeguarding policy
- If the provider isn’t already known to local guiding, you can contact your outdoor activities adviser with any questions
Leaders need only risk assess the elements of the activity that the leadership team is responsible for, such as travelling to and from the venue. The instructor is responsible for carrying out a risk assessment specific to the activity, though you may request a copy of this for your records too.
For further guidance you should contact your outdoor activities adviser or [email protected]
Risk assessment tips
If you do an activity more than once, you don’t need to complete a new risk assessment each time. You just need to see if anything has changed from last time.
You don’t need to over risk assess. All controls put in place should be proportional to the size of the risk.
Some risks cannot be foreseen and, therefore, you may not be able to control them fully – this is not something to worry about but could be used as an opportunity to improve and develop your next risk assessment.