All public venues should have a crowd management strategy. It is easier to plan your crowd control strategy for static public areas such as museums,railway stations, leisure centres and sports stadiums than it is to plan for mobile events such as music festivals and fairgrounds.
From a commercial point of view large crowds are desirable, however excessive crowding and poor crowd management can lead at worst to crushing, injury and even death and at the very least to such anxiety and stress that members of the public decide not to visit your event or venue again.
Small changes in the layout or venue, or a gradual increase in visitors, should trigger a review of your crowd management policy. In addition to the personal suffering such disasters cause, the accompanying adverse publicity, loss of revenue, compensation payments, insurance costs and possible prosecution can have a long-term effect on your company’s viability. Accidents due to poor queue control should not happen provided those responsible, at all levels, pay careful attention to managing crowds and queues safely.
Flexible barriers with a weighted base are the best way to control queues for banks, box offices and areas where the queue needs guidance to prevent queue jumping. These barriers can be chain linked, rope linked or use a flexible fabric strip as a barrier which retracts into the weighted supporting post.
For sporting events and festivals where enforcement of queue control is more important then interlocking steel barriers are the best solution. These barriers hook over each other and provide sturdy barrier than is difficult to penetrate. Interlinked steel barriers can be used to separate the crowd from the stage or arena at shows and festivals. Steel fence barriers are the only portable option that can be used outdoors.
Queue Control Design and layout
The layout of the venue, design of circulation routes and the design and location of facilities can have a fundamental influence on crowd behaviour. For example, small entrances or a limited number of turnstiles may control crowd flow into cramped areas, but may result in dangerous build-ups on the other side. Barriers can direct crowd flows and the shrewd location of desirable facilities can help spread visitors more evenly.
It may not always be possible to change the layout to enhance safety, but it should always be considered as an option. How much people know about the layout and design of the place affects the way they act, especially in an emergency visitors familiar with a venue are likely to use known routes to favourite viewing-points or attractions and may persist in doing this, even if the routes are closed. Those who don’t know a venue may block routes while deciding which way to go and well-placed signs and information about attractions can help them decide quickly. In an emergency people often leave by the way they know best, even if it appears more dangerous.
Queue behaviour is affected by the provision of information All queues should be guided by clear signposts, for larger events such as sports events, shows, and music festivals audible public address messages are vital. Failure to communciate with people in the queue can lead to people stopping, moving against the flow of the crowd, blocking walkways or making frequent demands on stewards for directions. Members of the public without information, or given contradictory information, can become frustrated and aggressive.
Crowd and Queue Control – Know the risks.
There are 5 physical features of a venue that can lead to overcrowding and possible injury. These are:
• steep slopes – try to avoid steep slopes by making the queue wind its way gradually down the slope using steel barriers to guide the public.
• dead ends, locked gates – gates at the end of walkways should be of the type that can be opened in a emergency from the queue side.
• convergence of several routes into one – Make sure your walkways are wide enough, consider the width needed to accomodate people with disabilities and their carers. Where walk ways converge try to make the walkway that they converge into the same width as the total combined width of the feeder walk ways.
• uneven or slippery flooring or steps – Use a temporary floor covering for uneven or slippery areas.
• cables running accross a walkway – Use cable ramps and signs to indicate there presence to prevent tripping.
Potential hazards requiring identification and management crowd and queue control include:
• reverse or cross flows in a dense crowd – avoid cross flow where possible, clear signage and stewards can direct the queue.
• flows which are obstructed by queues, or gathering crowds – audible public address system announcements can keep the crowd flowing in the correct direction
• moving attractions within a crowd – Stewards should be present to keep the crowd informed.