Information on air show-related insurance claims provides interesting insight on safety and operations issues in our business. Here are the top six lessons gathered from 35 years of insurance statistics.
* The single biggest safety hazard is that one of your spectators will trip and fall during your event and injure himself/herself. Exposed tent stakes, gopher holes in fields used for parking, exposed extension cords and other hazards are responsible for nearly one-third of all insurance claims. Injuries range from a skinned knee to compound fractures. Solution: find time after set-up and before gates open to tour your show site with the specific goal of identifying and correcting trip-and-fall hazards.
* Inexperienced and untrained personnel handling or directing aircraft is the second biggest cause of insurance claims. Accidents involving flying aircraft are relatively rare in our business; in an “average” year, we might have four or five such incidents. But aircraft on the ground are frequently damaged, most often when people who don’t know what they’re doing become involved. Solution: Make sure that the people involved with moving and directing aircraft at your show are trained and experienced.
* Golf carts are one of the most dangerous things at your show. They run over spectators. People fall out of them while they’re moving. And, too frequently, they run into automobiles and aircraft and cause significant, expensive damage. Solution: be discriminating about who you give golf carts to. And have a quick safety brief to make sure drivers understand what is expected of them in their use of the golf carts.
* Take a critical look at your parking area as a potential safety hazard. At two different shows in the last few years, hot catalytic converters on the underside of automobiles have caused dead grass to catch fire which has, in turn, caught multiple automobiles on fire. Losses have climbed well into seven figures. Solution: cut the grass in fields that you use for parking and remove the dead grass.
* Damage and injuries in your parking lots are one of the top hazards. As cars arrive at and depart from your parking area, they hit each other and, occasionally, people. Solution: in all likelihood, you don’t have enough volunteers stationed in your parking area to direct cars and “encourage” good behavior by people who are sometimes frustrated by traffic issues.
* Be prepared for unexpected storms and build your response into the emergency preparedness plan. Wind-related insurance claims are among the most common issues at air shows. And that damage often comes with injuries to spectators and participants.