Public events

The event organiser is fully responsible for safety at the event. Public events are consumer services as referred to in the Consumer Safety Act. The event organiser must comply with the general requirements of the Consumer Safety Act.

Event safety encompasses several aspects, including public safety, fire safety, first aid, public order, criminal safety and food safety. Tukes monitors compliance with the Consumer Safety Act at events. Tukes monitors areas such as public safety and the safety of additional services at events. Several other authorities monitor safety at events in addition to Tukes. 

The purpose of this page is to help event organisers to comply with the requirements of the Consumer Safety Act and to plan and realise safe events.

Definition of an event

Events must not cause danger to the public or to property. The requirements of the Consumer Safety Act apply to all events open to the public, irrespective of whether entry is free or subject to charge and regardless of who the organiser is.

At the earliest possible stage in the planning of the event, consider what type of event you are organising and which factors have a bearing on the safety of the specific event. Begin by defining the scope and nature of the event:

Scope of the event, nature of the event and complexity level

  • You can estimate the scope of the event according to the expected number of people attending. Other factors affecting the scope of the event may include the size of the event area, the number and size (floor area) of separate buildings or other premises used at the event, whether and how often the event recurs and the duration of the event.
  • The nature of the event depends on what happens at the event and who attends it. The risks to the attendees of a football match are different from the risks inherent in a scientific conference or a children’s hurdles event. Events are considered to carry a high risk if attendees have the opportunity to participate in various activities; the event includes hazardous features, such as fireworks, pyrotechnics or motor vehicles; or the event is arranged in a location that includes hazardous aspects, such as cruises or events held near bodies of water. The characteristics and behaviour of the attendees also influence the nature of the event. For example, the use of intoxicants, the presence of various subcultures or child attendees will raise the risk level of the event.

Events with a broader scope and greater risks are more demanding to arrange and must be planned in more detail. Depending on the scope and nature, events can be grouped into five categories corresponding to the competences required to organise the event. A single event may include functions representing several different competence levels. The event organiser specifies the competence and qualification requirements for the parties realising different functions. The nature and scope of the event also affect whether a safety document is required for the event. 

The following list includes examples of events of different complexity levels:

  • Hobbyist level (number of triangles: 2 - 3): Small events including only individual special functions or performance locations. A safety document may be prepared for the event. Examples include a small dog show where pony rides are included as an additional activity
  • Volunteer level (number of triangles: 4 - 5): Small and medium-sized events including a few special functions or performance locations. If the scope or nature of the event is at level 3–5, a safety document must be prepared for the event. Examples include a family event on a beach where there are also bouncy castles
  • Combination level (number of triangles: 6): Events of different sizes including different functions. Some of the functions may require the party implementing the function to have expert or professional competences. A safety document must be prepared for the event.
  • Expert level (number of triangles: 7 - 8): Events where several of the functions require the organiser to have expertise and practical experience. The attendees may include members of various subcultures, or the management of public safety may be particularly important. A safety document must be prepared for the event. Examples include a two-day music event or major horse-racing event with a large number of additional activities
  • Professional level (number of triangles: 9 - 10): Events with a large number of functions requiring the organiser to have professional skill, specialisation, specific qualifications or permits. The position, movements and density of groups of attendees must be managed particularly carefully. A safety document must be prepared for the event. A rock festival held in a large area with several different event sites, where the attendees are expected to move around and change substantially during the event

Event safety from the perspective of different parties

All of the parties participating in the event are involved in organising the safety of the event. The following section describes event safety from different perspectives:

  • Event organiser: Seek permits or consent from the property owner or landowner and the authorities in order to arrange the event. Identify and anticipate the hazards presented by the event during every phase of planning and take adequate measures to mitigate hazards in advance. Use accident reports and statistics for prior events to help with safety planning. Ensure that the subcontractors and other people and organisations involved in planning and realising the event are aware of their safety responsibilities and that they act accordingly. If applicable, prepare the safety document for the event in accordance with the table above. Ensure that a safety document has been prepared for the additional services requiring a safety document under the Consumer Safety Act. Issue the necessary instructions concerning the safety of participants in a clear and comprehensible way. 

  • Property owner or landowner: Specify the limits to how the premises or area can be used in relation to factors such as the number of people or the purpose of use, and inform the event organiser of any special safety requirements at the venue. Provide the event organiser with sufficient information and guidance on the use of the venue in relation to factors such as the number of people, safety technology, specific hazards and abnormal circumstances.

  • Subcontractors and providers of additional services who are involved in organising the event: Take care of the safety of their own areas of responsibility. If necessary, prepare a separate safety document for the additional services arranged as part of the event. Work with the event organiser to ensure the overall safety of the event. Inform the event organiser if any safety shortcomings or accidents are observed.

  • Performers: Plan the performance in cooperation with the event organiser so that it does not cause a hazard. Follow the instructions issued by the event organiser. Be prepared to suspend the performance if public safety cannot be assured during the performance. Inform the event organiser if any safety shortcomings or accidents are observed. 

  • Public attending the event: Follow the safety instructions issued by the event organiser. Ensure that your behaviour does not cause danger to yourself or to others. Inform the event organiser if any safety shortcomings or accidents are observed.

  • Vendors and other tenants: Follow the safety instructions issued by the event organiser and cooperate to ensure the safety of the event. Ensure that the points of sale, products sold or additional activities arranged at the event do not cause hazards. Inform the event organiser if any safety shortcomings or accidents are observed.

  • Immediate surroundings of the event: The event must not cause hazards to bystanders or the immediate surroundings. The event organiser must clarify which parties are located in the venue’s surroundings and factors such as other events taking place at the same time, which could impact the safety of the event. The event organiser must inform people in the surrounding area of the event, along with any risks and disturbances that the event may cause.

  • Authorities: The authorities verify whether the event organiser complies with legislation and, if necessary, provide guidance and advice on safety arrangements for the event. The authorities supervising events are covered in more detail in the section.

Event safety plans

Management and personnel

Event safety must be managed in the same way as every other part of the event. Safety management means that safety is planned in advance, monitored throughout the event, monitored using appropriate indicators and continuously improved. There must also be a timely response if any shortcomings are detected. Safety management must take account of normal conditions, as well as any abnormal circumstances and conditions as can be foreseen. Safety management also includes cooperation with the authorities, experts and other partners. Even if the safety arrangements for the event are outsourced, the main organiser of the event remains responsible for event safety. 

Throughout the event, the event organiser must ensure that there is a sufficient number of professionally competent personnel present at the event. The number of personnel is influenced by the scope and nature of the event, as well as the placement of various functions and the number of attendees at various stages of the event. The event organiser determines the competence and qualification requirements and training necessary for personnel. The personnel must be given orientation and training for their duties and safety matters at the event. It must be easy to distinguish the personnel from members of the public. This may be achieved by providing the personnel with a distinctive uniform.

Area planning

The event organiser must ensure the safety of the premises, structures, buildings and outdoor areas used at the event. The area planning for the event should take into consideration at least the following factors:

  • The purpose and suitability of the area or location for use as an event venue
  • The maximum number of attendees in the various areas and in various situations at the event 
  • The routes used by the attendees (arrival, moving within the area, exit)
  • The points where attendees may gather in large numbers or concentrations 
  • Planning for maintenance and emergency routes and areas
  • The durability, fastening and placement of temporary structures such as tents, performance stages and audience stands
  • The impact of the event on the surrounding environment

Programme and timetable planning

The event organiser can effectively influence the number of attendees and their movements within the event venue through the planning of the event’s programme and timetable. The plan for the programme should take into consideration the adequacy of the available areas and their suitability for the expected number of attendees. Different performances and acts should be timed and located in such a way that they do not cause a hazard to each other or to the public. The planned timetable should take into consideration the number of attendees and their behaviour during breaks included in the programme and outside the planned programme. 

Limits on conditions

If necessary, limits should be determined for the conditions for offering and providing service. Limits on conditions are the thresholds within which the event can be realised safely. The conditions that can affect event safety include the weather, lighting conditions, the characteristics or behaviour of the attendees, any disruptive factors outside the event and any other unforeseen occurrences. The organiser must have clear operating instructions to use if the conditions deviate significantly from the plan or change rapidly during the event. If a change in conditions gives rise to substantial danger, the event organiser must take measures to ensure safety, such as to stop using hazardous structures, restrict the areas that the attendees can use or suspend the event.  

Safety document and other safety plans

Several different laws and authorities require safety plans or safety documents for public events. Tukes verifies that event organisers prepare the safety documents required by the Consumer Safety Act for events. The safety document does not need to be sent to Tukes unless Tukes requests it.

Prepare a safety document if you are organising a public event where there may be a danger to the safety of participants or bystanders due to factors such as the nature or scope of the event. You can combine the safety document with other rescue or safety plans, as long as the combined document sufficiently covers the matters that must be included in a safety document. The safety document may consist of several files or data sources.

Begin compiling the safety document in the initial phase of event planning. Supplement the document as planning progresses and, if necessary, after the event, so as to ensure that practical experiences are recorded. Make use of the competences of the personnel when you prepare the safety document.

Various programme services may be offered as additional services at events, such as bungee jumps, pony rides or climbing. The programme service provider must draw up a safety document for their service if the Consumer Safety Act requires this. The main organiser of the event should ask all of the service providers participating in the event to provide safety documents during the event's planning stage, as this is the best time to influence the overall safety of the event.

Accidents and unusual situations

The early detection and analysis of any accidents and other mishaps are an essential part of assessing the risks of the event. In the safety document, describe how the event’s hazards are identified in advance and how safety will be monitored and measured throughout the event. 

Set up accident records (a register of hazards) for the event. Use the accident record to log any accidents and near misses involving the attendees. Plan the procedures that the personnel and public can use to report any safety shortcomings or accidents that they detect during the event. Learn from accidents and make use of the accident records to plan safety at future events. 

Severe accidents and near misses must be reported to Tukes immediately.

If an event presents a hazard to the public, it must not continue. When a hazard has been detected, it may be necessary to suspend the event in whole or in part based either on the event organiser’s assessment or an order by the authorities. The event may only resume once it is certain that the hazard has been eliminated and the event is sufficiently safe. The operating methods for the continuous monitoring of event safety and the identification of hazards, as well as for safe suspension of the event, must be taken into consideration in the event’s safety plan and safety document. 

Legislation and authorities

Notifications must be made for events and permits must be sought from various authorities. The event organiser must be familiar with the legislation, the supervisory authorities and the notification and permit procedures applying to the event, as well as the associated schedules. 

The authorities will be happy to provide guidance and advice on event arrangements in advance of the event. Inform the authorities of your planned event at the earliest possible phase before you apply for permits. This will enable the authorities to inform you of any shortcomings or request additional information in good time. For large events, it is often necessary to meet with the authorities well in advance of the event and, if necessary, more than a year in advance. 

Events are monitored by at least the following authorities in addition to Tukes:

  • The police: Assembly Act, Private Security Services Act, Public Order Act, Act on the Safe Handling and Storage of Dangerous Chemicals and Explosives
  • The emergency services: Rescue Act and Rescue Decree, Act on the Safe Handling and Storage of Dangerous Chemicals and Explosives
  • Municipal building authorities: Land Use and Building Act
  • Municipal environmental health and protection authorities: distribution of foodstuffs and potable water, animals, waste management and the environment, noise
  • Hospital districts: first aid, Health Care Act, Rescue Act
  • Regional state administrative agencies: Occupational Safety and Health Act, Alcohol Act 

Best safety practices related to events

Monitoring weather conditions

Wind, rain, thunder, snow, temperature and related changes can significantly impact the safety of events, particularly those held outdoors. Clarify the typical weather conditions at the venue and take them into consideration during planning and realisation. Prepare an advance plan of action if a change in weather conditions presents a hazard for the attendees.

Monitor the weather forecast and warnings in good time before the event so that you can make any necessary structural changes in advance. Monitor the weather conditions and any changes in the weather during the event by observation, by keeping track of weather forecasts and, if necessary, by measurement. Monitor the weather conditions particularly closely for events that use lightweight temporary structures that are vulnerable to the effects of wind; events held on water or in remote locations; and at other outdoor events that are long in duration or large in size. Clarify the structures used for the event, the restrictions imposed by weather conditions on the use of such structures, and the actions required to ensure the safety of structures in advance. 

Temporary structures

The temporary structures used during events may include tents, stand and stage structures, audio and lighting structures, and fences and barriers of various types. All of the structures used at events must be durable, safe and suitable for the intended purpose. They must meet the existing safety requirements, such as building regulations and the installation and usage instructions issued by the manufacturer. In the safety document, describe the high-risk structures used at the event and the requirements applying to inspections and maintenance of such structures. The municipal building authorities are responsible for monitoring the safety and construction aspects of structures, and they can provide applicable instructions.

Special effects

VPowerful special effects such as lights, smoke and odours may have harmful or even unhealthy effects on attendees. If these are used, inform the attendees in advance when tickets are purchased and when the attendees arrive at the event so that they can decide whether they are willing and able to attend the event. Plan a safe way of implementing special effects and, if necessary, limit the use of special effects on the basis of a risk assessment. Risk assessments must also take account of the indirect consequences of activities. For example, substances or objects thrown onto the attendees may cause electrical devices to overheat or start a fire.