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How to run risk-free charity events

  • Recent research suggests us Brits are a charitable bunch, particularly happy to donate time and money to local causes.

    Combine that with our (admittedly un-researched!) love of tea and cake and you’ve got a sure-fire fundraising winner. Who doesn’t relish a coffee morning? Or a village fete? Simply set it up and away you go.

    Well, almost.

    Wise before the event

    Charity get-togethers are fraught with potential problems. There are plenty of unseen dangers waiting to scupper the unwary, and most of them involve the good old general public.

    We’ve all heard the ghastly cliché ‘where there’s blame there’s a claim’. Problem is, like most ghastly clichés, it’s true – and an indication of how compensation culture affects those trying to do good.

    Why? Because compensation culture is often the architect of a claim against your charity if someone’s injured or their property’s damaged, and it’s deemed your fault.

    In fact, 80% of people attending events assume you’ve ‘done something’ about their health and safety, and have insurance to cover them if something goes wrong. If you haven’t, it’s best for everyone they don’t find out the hard way.

    Unless you have deep pockets and a solid knowledge of health and safety legislation, you can’t afford to take chances.

    Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

    It’s useful to think about what can go wrong.

    For example, someone hurt during a village fete tug-of-war. Or a passer-by knocked out by an errant cricket ball. Perhaps a volunteer slipping on a wet kitchen floor.

    It’s a common misconception that the venue owner is liable for circumstances like these but unfortunately that’s not the case. If you’re the organiser, you’re liable.  And as you’re liable, a compensation claim could be made against your charity.

    If all this sounds a bit doom and gloom, don’t worry, it’s manageable. For starters, here are just three simple things you can do to reduce the chance of a claim:

    1. Make a health and safety checklist. Have a good look around your venue, inside and out, and note any potential hazards. Pay particular attention to areas open to the public, and to any activities involving the public. For example, secure loose cables, smooth uneven terrain (if possible) and make it obvious where there’ll be moving vehicles. Make warning signs if needs be.

    2. Look after your people. The law says you have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment, even for volunteers. If you’re asking them to do physical work (e.g. lifting) make sure they have training. Provide first aid kits, adequate toilet and washing facilities, and point out unsafe areas on site. Document everything.

    3. Keep an eye out. Monitoring your event while it’s underway is as important as good planning before it. A turn in the weather, for example, can easily change a level playing field into a slip and trip minefield. Have a plan B, and make sure you have enough help to implement it.

    Risk management is prudent but it should be more than just a health and safety checklist. Mostly because, if someone’s injured and the HSE brings an action against the charity for a health and safety breach, the trustees can be personally liable.

    Charity insurance like MyCharityGuard.co.uk helps plug the gaps: public liability insurance covers third-party bodily injury and property damage claims while employers’ liability insurance covers employee illness and injury claims.

    Note: employers’ liability is legally required if you have employees, and volunteers are often classed as such. It’s sometimes a blurred line between the two and the HSE can fine those who get it wrong. As always, it’s best to ask your insurance broker for advice.

     

     

     

     

     

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