There is a huge number of issues associated with managing crowds, and as with many other areas of disaster management, focussing solely on the big challenge can see the smaller challenges overlooked. Work is currently underway in one of these key areas, with a holistic approach towards managing crowds being pursued to deliver formal national guidance for all those affected. This and the progress towards a standard on security (guard) dogs have been key issues for the sector in recent months and will continue to be high on the agenda for months to come.
360 view on crowd management
Devastating consequences in failing to manage crowds properly have been highlighted in recent past at large events around the country, and at an international level. Unfortunately, there are tragic examples of fatalities from music festivals and other public events, which may have been prevented had there been some guidelines on crowd management.
Crowd management more important than ever
Since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Australia has had more and more mass gatherings taking place in a variety of different formats. Unfortunately, Australia has also had several deaths linked to large events and numerous incidents linked to crowd management. Identifying this as a community concern is heightened by the fact that Australia currently has no standard, or guidance material, around the planning and management of crowds and crowded places.
With no national standard for the management of crowds and mass gatherings industry is forced into using international suggestions for guidance, for example large sections of the industry would seek to use reference material and established guidance from Europe, particularly the United Kingdom.
In response to community and industry concerns, steps have been taken towards developing a national resource to guide the planning and management of crowds and crowded places at venues, events, public domains and festivals. This resource takes the form of a Standards Australia handbook – SA HB 183 Crowd Management for Crowded Places.
The handbook has been developed to add to various other public policy and technical material on crowded places.
As mentioned, the existing gap in documented guidance has left organisers and stakeholders with limited resources for the management of mass gatherings. It is here, that the proposal for the handbook currently being developed seeks to respond to a clear need. In doing so, the handbook aims to address the issues raised by industry and most often associated with crowds. The following key processes of large events and crowds are also a focus of this handbook:
- Egress and Dispersal.
Reviews of serious incidents in the past have pointed to a lack of planning and implementation before and during the event, particularly in terms of risk assessments and emergency management procedures.
With such an obvious need for industry developed formal guidance, the handbook intends to provide a standard with regards to the planning for mass gatherings using material that is currently available.
This handbook is intended to provide guidance on the planning and management of crowds and mass gatherings in the following areas:
- Definitions and terminology
- Purpose of a crowd management plan
- Risk assessment and identification
- Roles and responsibilities
- Crowd demographics and behaviour
- Site design
- Communication and information
- Emergency and incident management
Impact of formal guidance on crowd management
The handbook will be a voluntary document that guidance on how organisers can provide a safe environment for mass gatherings and the management of crowds, ultimately aiding in the reduction of injury risk.
In cases in years gone by, investigations found the lack of guidelines led to death and serious injuries, clearly highlighting the potential to improve public safety with the development of a standard in this space.
The process so far
The development of this handbook, which is clear in its potential community benefit, is well underway with an industry and government committee, MB-025, working towards a draft for public comment. Pending this, public comment will be sought with all industry stakeholders, including the broader community, given the chance to provide input on what the final handbook will look like.
Where to next?
Work is currently underway to bring the handbook to completion as quickly as possible, particularly given the absence of formal national guidance. In doing so, industry and the public as a whole can expect more conversations to take place to ensure the eventual handbook does deliver what is expected in terms of safety. With more and more large-scale events taking place, formal guidance around how to deliver the safest event possible will be of great benefit to the community. For more information on where the handbook is up to, those in the industry are advised to contact Catherine Dunkerley, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, on 02 9237 6108.
Unleashing the standard for guard dogs
Community safety is a focal point for standards development, but the security of buildings, business parks, and private premises in addition to the safety of a crowd is something intended to be addressed with the development of a new standard on security guard (patrol) dogs.
Work on the standard is to be commenced in coming months for security guard (patrol) dogs. The standard is aimed at working dog teams in the private security industry, specifically security guard dog teams.
The standard proposal outlined a focus on the following:
- Control and obedience requirements of security patrol dogs
- Handler education to ensure a base level curriculum designed to train, assess and evidence sufficient skills and knowledge required to care for and deploy security dogs
- Canine suitability selection processes
- Care and welfare of working dogs (in the security industry)
There is a clear place for national guidance, provided by an Australian Standard, in this area and even more so with an ever present threat of terror in Australia. With this in mind, there may also be an increase in the use of privately contracted security dogs. In which case, the development of this standard has been viewed as essential to establish basic skill levels for working dogs, and their handlers, as well as provide the broader community with confidence that this industry can operate to the highest expectation.
What will a standard mean for the community?
As with every standard there is a clear requirement for it to deliver net benefit to the Australian community, no more so than with working dogs. The committee who will undertake this work is will meet soon to finalise a scope of work before getting down to the real business of developing the guidance material in a broad range of areas from community safety to working animal welfare and protocols for deployment.
The deployment of this handbook will add to a comprehensive range of tools to support the security sector.
In other standards…
Work to amend AS 2419.1:2017 Fire hydrant installations, Part 1: System design, installation and commissioning, will be well and truly underway with its kick off expected in the coming months. For those not familiar with it, this standard provides requirements for the design, installation and commissioning and testing of fire hydrant installations used for the protection of buildings and other structures.
Similarly, AS 2118.1:2017 Automatic fire sprinkler systems, Part 1: General systems is also being amended with work to start in coming months. This standard outlines general requirements for the design, installation and commissioning of automatic fire sprinkler systems in buildings.
Both will have a huge impact on the fire industry, and its interaction with standards, meaning stakeholders at every point in the sector should be aware of these changes. Standards Australia will continue to work with the industry to collaboratively deliver positive outcomes in these amendments.
For more information, go to www.standards.org.au
Top image: Risks in managing crowds: new handbook to help guide industry.