Conduct a Risk Assessment for Your Pop Up Business

Besides basic financial issues, like budgeting and funding, you need to consider other risks inherent in running a pop up venture. Carrying out a risk assessment will help you do so.

When you’re assessing risk, you need to look at three areas:

  • Fire safety

  • Health and safety

  • Security

The following sequence of questions makes risk assessment really easy:

  1. What is the hazard?

  2. Who might be harmed?

  3. How could that person be harmed?

  4. How big a risk is it?

  5. How can you minimise that risk?

The simplest way to carry out a risk assessment is to create a five-column table and complete it during a site visit. Label each column as shown in the following table that shows a real example for a pop up event on Worthing Pier, which takes in some everyday risks alongside some unlikely ones.

Risk Assessment
Potential Hazard Who Is at Risk? What Is the Risk? Level of Risk Risk Reduction
Falling off pier Individuals may fall off and into the sea Fall from height;
Drowning
Medium Assess slip, trip and fall hazards prior to the event.
Place railings around the sides of pier
Pier collapse Everyone at the event Panic as individuals are crushed or fall into the sea, sustaining related injuries Low Know Worthing Pier evacuation procedure.
Engineers to check structure monthly
Weather conditions Everyone at the event Strong winds, heavy rain, lightning strike, squalls and so on Low Postpone event if the weather conditions cause concern; cancel event if the conditions are unsuitable.

Using your table:

  1. Walk around your pop up and look at what may cause harm.

  2. Ask other people who’ll be using your pop up what they think.

    They may have noticed things that aren’t immediately obvious to you.

  3. Consider whether you can eliminate the hazard altogether.

  4. If you can’t eliminate the hazard, think about how you can control the risks so that harm is unlikely.

You don’t have to be a health and safety expert to carry out a risk assessment, and the simpler it is, the easier it is for everyone to follow.

When carrying out your risk assessment, remember to be clear about hazards and risks, and how to manage them:

  • A hazard is anything that may cause harm – for example, an oddly placed step, a kettle full of hot water or a slippery floor.

  • The risk is the realistic chance, high or low, that somebody may be harmed.

  • Most important is how you’ll manage that risk, which in most cases is easy and comes down to common sense.

Fire safety in risk assessment

The risk of fire in your pop up is probably quite low, and the main thing to consider is how to evacuate staff and customers from the premises quickly. Make sure that fire exits and routes to them are clear and well-marked. Agree with staff where to meet after an evacuation.

To minimise risk, make sure that anything not in use (for example, packaging or surplus stock) is stored safely and sensibly.

Tidy away rubbish and remove it from the premises daily. Most pop ups generate surprisingly little waste, particularly if you encourage staff to take their own rubbish home to recycle it.

Check out the UK government’s useful guide: ‘Fire Safety Risk Assessment – Offices and Shops’.

Follow this fire safety checklist:

  • Make sure that you have a phone available to make emergency calls.

  • Clear away rubbish and safely store other materials and resources.

  • Mark fire exits and ensure that routes to them are clear of obstructions.

  • Test any alarms and equipment.

  • Have an evacuation plan in place and make sure all staff and volunteers are aware of it.

Health and safety risk assessment

Your risk assessment is a great help, but most accidents happen when people are careless or something goes wrong. Keeping your pop up neat and tidy minimises most risks and enables you to see quickly and clearly any that arise.

  • Have a phone available to make emergency calls.

  • Keep public areas clean, tidy and free of hazards, such as stacked boxes.

  • Close and clearly mark areas not to be used by the public.

  • Visually check electrics and any portable electrical items for damage, exposed wires or broken cables.

  • Allow only responsible staff and volunteers to use any specialised equipment.

Security risk assessment

You need to manage the security of your pop up and the people working in it. Here are a few tips to keep your pop up secure:

  • Make sure that you have a secure or at least an inaccessible area to store personal goods, such as bags and coats, and encourage staff to use it.

  • Set aside an area where stock or other unused goods are safe and secure and not open to the public.

  • Ensure you can lock the property securely when not in use and don’t store anything valuable where it may be stolen.

  • Provide a phone for emergency calls.

  • Close and lock doors and windows when premises aren’t in use.

  • Offer a safe, locked area for staff to store their private possessions such as bags and coats.

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