The University of Western Australia
This document describes the University policy with respect to overcrowding in venues, including lecture theatres and tutorial rooms. Appropriate occupation of venues is necessary for reasons of personal safety, comfort, compliance and in the interest of quality teaching. This is achieved by ensuring that there are adequate controls in place to plan and manage activities so that there is sufficient seating capacity for all likely attendees. Overcrowding increases the risk of injury to staff, students and visitors as it adversely affects safety in all work, study or entertainment environments. This policy applies to all enclosed spaces where a prescribed level of occupation is defined by the number of seats available.
Overcrowding occurs when there is insufficient seating or when non-fixed furniture and equipment is provided in excess of the capacity of the venue.
Particularly in case of emergency, facilities provided for effective egress can be rendered ineffective by the presence of too many persons and/or belongings as well as inappropriate placement of computers, cables and other equipment.
Responsibilities of teaching and professional staff
Teaching and professional staff are required to follow this policy and to inform the Head of School or Section of overcrowding issues and related actions. The person in charge of a group shall act as the Warden and is responsible for evacuating their area in the event of an emergency.
Responsibilities of Head of School or section
The Head of School or Section is responsible for assisting staff with any difficulties experienced in relation to overcrowding and to work with Unit Coordinators, and the Venues and Timetabling unit to best accommodate classes or activities. The Head of School or Section may institute repeat classes to avoid overcrowding.
Responsibilities of students and visitors
Students and visitors are required to:
• Take reasonable care of their own health and safety, and also that of other persons.
• Comply with University policies and procedures (e.g. comply with allocation of venue and time).
• Comply with reasonable directions of persons in charge of the activity.
Responsibilities of venue hirers
If a University venue is hired by a person or organisation external to the University, the hirer is responsible for ensuring all relevant UWA policies and procedures are adhered to. In relation to this policy, the venue hirer is responsible for ensuring that overcrowding does not occur and that, in the event of an emergency, they shall act as the Warden.
The University makes every effort to ensure overcrowding in venues, lectures and tutorials does not occur. Information detailing the allocation of rooms and lecture theatres for enrolments in the following year is received mid-year by a central timetabling officer from School / Section timetabling officers.
The University Policy on Central Timetabling can be found here and the policies and procedures of the UWA Timetabling and Venues Unit can be found here.
When overcrowding involves teaching activities the teaching units shall notify the Timetabling and Venues Unit (6488 7940 / 7942 / 8731) promptly when it is evident that a room allocation is not large enough to accommodate the class. This notification by the teaching unit is vital so reallocation of venues can be initiated.
Similarly, notification should be made promptly when a room is no longer required or is too large for the number of students.
Teaching spaces are designed to properly seat a maximum number of people. The seating capacity is shown on a sign in each venue and shall not be exceeded. If overcrowding occurs or is expected and an alternative larger venue is not available, Schools should consider ways of accommodating such classes. Options to be considered may include increasing the number and timing of repeat classes, assigning students to specific streams and, if iLecture recordings of lectures are available, students should be notified of this.
Extra repeat classes in the first three weeks of semester should be considered for units which are likely to be in high demand.
At the beginning of an activity, if the person in charge observes overcrowding, the scheduled activity should not proceed until sufficient people leave the venue to reduce the number to achieve the specified seating capacity. The person in charge of the activity can achieve this by either (a) asking all people not scheduled to attend this activity to leave, or (b) call Security (Ext 3020) to request their assistance.
When this involves teaching activities the person in charge of the venue shall inform their supervisor or Head of School or Section of the overcrowding issue and what action was taken.
Venues and Teaching areas require explicit organisation because of the potential for large numbers of people to be congregated in a small area. The person in charge of the activity shall act as the Warden and be responsible for evacuating his/her area.
Upon hearing an alarm, or when notified of an emergency, the person in charge of the group shall direct participants to:
- Immediately cease all activities (push chairs, bags etc under desks or benches).
- Turn off any electrical devices and laboratory operations that are not safe to be left unattended.
- Follow the directions of the Warden and evacuate in an orderly fashion to the designated assembly area and remain with the Warden at the assembly area until otherwise advised.
- Follow directions of the Wardens who may be wearing red caps.
- Not re-enter the building until the Building Warden has given the all clear.
For more information refer to the UWA Procedure: Emergency - Fire and Evacuation
In case of emergency call UWA Security: 6488 2222
UWA OSH Policy
Regulations for Student Conduct and Discipline
UWA Procedure: Emergency - Fire and Evacuation
UWA Policy on Central Timetabling
UWA Timetabling and Venues Unit Policies and Procedures
UWA Venue Resources (with capacities)
TRIM File No:
Associate Director - Safety and Health
Related Policies or legislation: