5 Key Themes from the Canadian Event Safety Summit

Courtesy of Sam Slattery, Capital Presents & Janet Sellery, Sellery Health & Safety // Canadian Event Safety Alliance

On May 18, 2016, over 100 event professionals gathered in Toronto for the Inaugural Canadian Event Safety Summit. Representatives from production suppliers, event production companies, festivals, roadhouses, municipalities, colleges and universities, labour, insurance and engineering joined in for a unique event safety learning opportunity.

Chaired by Janet Sellery (Sellery Health + Safety) and Samantha Slattery (Capital Presents), the summit was presented in partnership with the Event Safety Alliance, and sponsored by Actsafe, CITT/ICTS, Music Canada Live, Sutton Special Risk and WDT.

With speakers and panelists from Canada and the USA, several key themes emerged:

  1. Assess Your Risks

Start early – your due diligence begins with the “big idea”. Assess the risks of your event by considering the event context, location, timing, participants, and activities. The first lightning strike is not the time to think about how you will shelter 50,000 patrons. Use the results of your risk assessment to guide your event planning, and to identify and resolve gaps before you go to site.


  1. Seek Expertise

Partner with people who can support you with specific safety expertise, including:

  • Occupational Health & Safety – Ensure you have appropriate policies, procedures, documentation and training to achieve compliance.
  • Emergency Medical Care – From basic first aid to a full on-site clinic, match the care you provide to the risks of your event.
  • Engineering – Consult with a civil or structural engineer for a qualified opinion and advice on temporary performance/event structures and weather event action plans, as well as issues such as building and fire code compliance.
  • Insurance – Share details of your event with your insurers so they can arrange the coverage you need and give you guidance on managing risks.
  • Weather Forecasting – Arrange to receive reliable weather information, specific to your event, so you can plan for, and respond to, weather events such as strong wind gusts, lightning, heavy rain and hail.

  1. Be Reasonable

You can’t anticipate every potential problem, but you can foresee most issues that require precautions. For example, on a blistering hot August day, it is reasonable to expect drinking water to be available. In Ontario, under the Occupational Health & Safety Act, both employers and supervisors have a duty to “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker”. Each jurisdiction has laws about being reasonable, and this expectation extends to your patrons. Work with your experts to develop and implement reasonable precautions.


  1. Write It Down

During the planning phase, documentation helps confirm everyone understands their responsibilities and liability, as well as your expectations for working safely. On site, government officials (such as  the Ministry of Labour, Fire Department, Municipal Officials etc.) can require documentation – and shut you down until you provide it. When it comes to responding to an injury, illness or weather event, there is no substitute for written Event Safety Plans, Medical Plans, Weather Trigger Charts etc. to guide responses.


  1. Collaborate for Safety

Build a team you can trust to approach your event with a strong safety focus. Consider knowledge and experience, industry reputation and understanding of health and safety responsibilities. Share safety successes with colleagues. We share a common goal, and each of us can make an impact. One way to get involved is by signing up to help with the Event Safety Guide Review at this link.


The Canadian Event Safety Summit is just the beginning and we look forward to the participation of Music Canada Live members in shaping the future of event safety in Canada.