Event Safety Guidelines

Updated December 20, 2016

The following Event Safety Guidelines complement the Guidebook to Planning Events @ MIT that has a short section about safety considerations (Note that safety includes all types of environment, health and safety "EHS" issues.) The purpose of these guidelines is to provide event planners with practical suggestions and safer options for many aspects of events. The MIT EHS Office is available to help apply these guidelines and create solutions for your event.

Event Sponsor and Event Safety Rep

The event sponsor is responsible for the safety of the event and can designate someone to be the event safety rep to fulfill this commitment.

Emergency Evacuation

Access to all exit doors, corridors and stairways must be kept clear at all times (i.e. cannot be blocked by furniture, boxes, etc.) The aisles to get to the exits have to be 4 feet wide and kept clear. When tables and chairs will be set up for more than 50 people, maintain 4 feet wide aisles between rows of tables and around the perimeter. Also, create a center aisle that is 5 feet wide.  This is to allow normal movement and evacuation. 

Exit signs and doors must be clearly visible. These cannot be disguised by decorations or obscured by pipe and drape. Set up pipe and drape so the exit signs and doors are still visible by either leaving an open space in the drapes or use different color drape and hang lighted exit signs from the pipe. The Building Code requires this to facilitate evacuation.

The staff/ volunteers for the event should know the exit routes, meeting area, fire alarm, and how to assist with the evacuation. Review a floor plan of the area that indicates this information with the staff.  During the welcome speech, the MC or event sponsor should briefly describe the evacuation plan. Contact the EHS Office Safety Program if you need help to gather this information.  

If the building or room doesn't have an adequate fire alarm, the event sponsor is responsible for setting up a God Mike to make an announcement in case of a fire or other emergency.

Room Capacity

It is the responsibility of the event safety rep to ensure that the maximum capacity of a room/facility is not exceeded during the event. Choose a venue that will be appropriate for the maximum attendance. Tickets and "invitation only" can be used. Use one clicker to count people entering and another to count people leaving. The use of wristbands and other methods to facilitate this are described in the Guidebook to Planning Events @ MIT.

Green your event

MIT events are encouraged to be as green as possible. Suggestions, tools, etc. are posted at:

Sustainability tips can also be used for meetings. The Institute events are examples of how to strive towards “zero-waste” by reducing the amount of trash.

Holiday factsheets (NFPA)