Crowd Management - Expert Article

An investigation following injuries or property damage at a special event or large gathering will often begin with an analysis of crowd management. This article introduces the principles of crowd management as they commonly relate to litigation and insurance claims.


Crowd Manager Training is required by national fire code standards and local ordinances in public assemblies such as nightclubs, auditoriums, theaters and arenas. Crowd Management, as opposed to Crowd Control, refers to the proactive steps that can be taken to prevent injuries, assaults, and other potential problems throughout the duration of an event.

Event safety and the orderly movement of people during an emergency should be a priority for organizers, starting during the planning phase and carrying through post-production. Examples of safety concerns during the four traditional event phases are outlined below:

  1. Planning – A location and venue must be chosen that can provide safety and security for the size of the crowd and reasonably anticipated activities. Qualified staff should be included during early stages to plan for a safe and successful event.
  2. Pre-Production – Logistical planning prior to the event must include a variety of health and safety concerns to include qualified vendor selection, crowd management, signage, waste management, load-out, and emergency preparedness and response.
  3. Production – Starting at the first occupation of the venue and continuing through the final walkthrough, the production phase must coordinate resources and personnel to provide for safety throughout the load-in, event, and load-out. This highly dynamic phase is the time period where most mishaps occur.
  4. Post-Production – During the period following an event, organizers should process and review any incident reports and establish measures to prevent similar mishaps from occurring in the future.


Planning for the reasonably foreseeable risks and hazards associated with an event involves performing a hazard analysis. Whether event coordinators recognize it by this name or not, organizers must consider the scope of the event, the risks to spectators and participants, community impact, and the emergency support required.

The National Safety Council (NSC) identifies the basic measures of the common Safety Hierarchy (Design, Guard, Warn) for addressing hazards and preventing accidental injury. In order of effectiveness and preference:

  1. Eliminate the hazard from the machine, method, material, or plant structure.
  2. Control the hazard by enclosing or guarding it at its source.
  3. Train personnel to be aware of the hazard and to follow safe job procedures to avoid it.

As this process relates to a forensic investigation, two prominent questions we often ask are whether specific hazards were appropriate, and if the planning involved to mitigate those hazards was reasonable.


Considering the incredible variety of event types and venues, there is virtually no limit to the potential issues that may arise in a dispute, but there are some common themes which we’ve outlined below:


  • Was the venue appropriate for the anticipate crowd and activities?
  • Were proper permits acquired to host the event as conducted?
  • Was safety considered during the initial planning phases?


  • Have the communication channels and chain of command been established and communicated?
  • Have site safety rules been communicated to contractors?
  • Have vendors been vetted for health and safety policies?
  • Are provisions for food, sanitation, and first aid adequate?
  • Have traffic management and parking plans been established and communicated?
  • Have ingress, egress, and emergency routes been established and communicated?
  • Are adequate security plans in place and have they been coordinated with local law enforcement?


  • Is the venue in a safe condition appropriate for the event?
  • Are structures throughout the premises (stages, seating, tents) sound and in good repair?
  • Are measures in place to restrict guest access from hazardous areas?
  • Is an incident response plan in place to identify and address hazards that arise throughout the event?


  • Have incident reports been logged for any mishaps that occurred throughout the event?

Investigating Mishaps at Large Events

Controlling crowds is a critical aspect of life safety in large occupancy venues. From a forensic standpoint there are many factors that may be relevant to the cause of mishaps. Whether the issue in your case is related to crowd control, facility operations, or other related disciplines Robson Forensic can provide a qualified expert to assist.

Contact us to discuss your case.

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