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.
Safety Plans--when is a written plan required?
Events will require a written safety plan which must be reviewed by the EHS Office and possibly other departments if there are any hazards such as candles/open flames, barbecue or other cooking, hazardous materials, etc. Refer to the helpful links list below for other triggers and safety plan templates for various types of events. The fire department or other regulators may also have to review this plan. The process may require more time to review and obtain approval, so plan ahead. The EHS Office will work with the event planners to identify and address safety concerns prior to running the event, but it is the event host's responsibility to supervise the event and ensure that the plan is executed. If the event planner significantly changes the activities and this introduces safety issues, then the safety plan will need to be resubmitted for review.
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.
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.
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)
- Animals at events—Approval Process
- Banners, Posters, and Easels
- Candles, Sterno, Cooking Equipment, Sky lanterns, and other "Open Flames"
- Decorating for the Holidays and Special Events
- Electrical Extension and Power Cords
- Fire Fighter Detail
- Fire Retardant Products
- Fires at nightclubs worldwide
- Fog / Smoke Machines
- Inflatable Amusements
- Lighting, Pyrotechnics, Fireworks, Lasers, and Strobes
- Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention during Events and Performances
- Table Linens, Pipe and Drape
- Types of events/ activities that need a Safety Plan
- Unsafe types of activities, demonstrations, and rides