Lightning clouds
The dangers of lightning are widely understood, however the level of threat at outdoor events where crowds gather is often overlooked

This new guidance provides practical advice on managing lightning risk, crowd safety and the protection of temporary structures, electrical equipment and power systems.

We suggest that the last time you said 'struck by lightning' you were using it as a metaphor for a very low risk. Right?

For event safety planners the reality is a little different. If it is an understood risk which applies to large-scale public and outdoor gatherings (like festivals), and you haven’t taken due notice of it – there may be a case to answer. That explains why this guidance is important and welcome. Eric Stuart, a former associate and valued colleague of the EPC is credited as one of the contributors to this new guidance. He’s a passionate event safety professional and advocate with whom we’ve had a long and rewarding association.

It’s a good piece of guidance which is well written and well structured, following a Plan-Do-Check-Act format – which practitioners will find logical, useful and (above all) practical. So, this is a useful addition to the body of event safety guidance and certainly fills a gap in our practice and standards.

It takes a nicely pragmatic and real-world approach to the risk. It reinforces the usual key message about a little prior thought and mitigation of foreseeable hazards. And it draws from USA experience to provide a neat little rule-of-thumb about planning for this risk – the 30:30 rule. If you are in the business of outdoor mass event safety planning and don’t know what that means – well, you should. Read this guidance!

If we have one small criticism it is that there is no evidence base – no quantification of the risk in terms of how many times this actually happens. It would not have to happen often to sharpen the interest of event safety practitioners and focus them on this guidance. Some treatment of real events and near-misses would have been useful. However, we recognise that 'standards' (however defined) have to be brief – and including contextual or supporting information has to be balanced against the need to keep it short and keep it practical.

In summary – this is a useful piece of guidance which offers simple and effective ways of treating a risk that is very real and hitherto much neglected.

The Insight Team