As an event organiser, you have a legal responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all those involved in your event - all employees, volunteer helpers and contractors as well as members of the public and participants.

In order to help you, this guide is useful when planning an event on Scottish Canals’ property. The headings used may also be helpful as a checklist. You will need to decide which parts are relevant to your particular event

Health and safety guidance

For large events an event safety plan may be helpful. This is a mirror image of the event plan, and considers all the health and safety aspects relevant to the event to ensure that adequate controls are in place. In order to be effective, both planning documents should be continually updated and reviewed as plans develop or change. 

Communication of the event safety plan is an essential part of planning and organising the event. A named person should take responsibility for communicating the content of the safety plan to all event staff and contractors, including to any marshals or volunteer helpers.

An event safety plan must include:

  • Event safety policy statement
  • Risk assessments (see separate info sheet)
  • Site safety rules
  • Event safety team’s responsibilities
  • Emergency plan
  • Emergency services provision
  • Setting up and dismantling arrangements
  • Event running arrangements

The plan should also consider other items as appropriate to the event. These could include:

  • First aid arrangements
  • Welfare arrangements
  • Disabled access arrangements
  • Security & stewarding
  • Communication systems
  • Details of any specialist displays
  • Transport management
  • Clearance of site at end of event
  • Contacts list
  • Safety meetings reports
  • Details of marquees, stalls, barriers and any other structures required

An Emergency Plan must be part of the event safety plan. This identifies the duties, responsibilities, procedures and communications to be used in any emergency. Remember to include the local emergency services, and the local hospital. A briefing should be given to all marshals / stewards detailing their role.

You should ensure that your event follows the Waterways Code, where appropriate. If event participants will include children, it may be helpful for them to learn some water safety before coming to the canals.

Just before the event, a detailed safety check, or walk through inspection, must be carried out. These checks should be repeated during and after the event to identify any potential hazards and to check communications. All defects, potential problems and hazards should be noted and remedial action taken. These checklists should be retained for reference.


Ensure clear access and exit routes and adequate circulation within the site. Pay special attention to emergency routes.


Check that all facilities and attractions are correctly sited as in your site plan; in particular first aid facilities, fire extinguishers, waste bins and any cash collection boxes are in place. 

Top Tip! Consider throw lines at appropriate locations.


Ensure adequate signage is displayed, especially at emergency exits, and at points for first aid, information, lost children, toilets and drinking water.


Check vehicles belonging to contractors, performers and exhibitors have been removed from site and parked in designated areas before the public is permitted to enter.


Ensure all staging, seating, marquees and lighting structures have been erected safely and that certification is obtained from contractors.


Check all barriers and any hazards protection measures are securely in place and there is no risk of falling from staging or other facilities.


Check that all stewards, staff and contractors have been fully briefed and understand their responsibilities.


Check that all staff are in their correct locations and stewards are wearing the correct clothing.


Check all lighting is working, including any emergency lighting.

Public information

Make sure the public address system is working and can be heard in all areas.

After the event

Site condition

Inspect the site to check that dismantle has been successful and identify any damage. Any structures left overnight must be in a safe and secure condition. Any litter must be removed.

Incidents / accidents

Any accidents or incidents during the event must be recorded – a report form can be downloaded from the website. A copy of all accident reports must be provided to the local Waterway Office. You should also advise your insurance company.

Download our Event Planning and Safety document