Planning for safety: Amateur sports clubs

Guidance on running a safe sports club

Don’t get tied up in red tape. Sports activities are enjoyed by people everyday without a problem.

Whether you are an employer, self-employed or a volunteer organiser hiring the use of a clubhouse, it is a good idea to have a think about how you make your club activity run smoothly, deciding on things that might be an issue eg the safety of any sports equipment you have control over.

For many clubs all that is required is to follow a basic series of steps:

  • Think about the risks - a risk is the chance, high or low, of somebody being harmed by a hazard, and how serious the harm could be.
  • Think about how accidents could happen and who might be harmed.
  • Think about what you will need to do to control the risks and ask if there is anything you should do to make your club activities safer.

Focus on risks that could cause real harm. If there is a genuine risk, see what you can do to minimise that risk and still go ahead – it can often be done. Be sensible and proportionate in your approach to managing risk and unlike the example here, don’t go ‘over the top’.

Does the decision make sense – is it proportionate to the level of risk?

A school would not allow a Cricket Club to use their own mechanical roller on the school’s grass wicket because someone might get hurt.

The fear was that while in use the mechanical roller could strike a child.

However, when used safely, the actual risk is very low. Indeed, rollers are used daily on cricket pitches all across the country without incident.

All you need is someone competent to operate the roller and sensible controls in place to prevent children and others from getting in the way.

The key thing is to keep a sense of proportion.

Stand up for common sense, and if someone says you can’t do something for health and safety reasons, challenge them to find out exactly why.

You can get help with challenging questionable decisions that restrict activities unnecessarily in the name of health and safety by contacting the Mythbuster Challenge panel.

Lists of previous sport and leisure myths and previous community and volunteering myths are available on the HSE website.

Common issues and what to do

Common issues to look at and consider may include the condition of sports equipment & playing surfaces plus safe use and access to premises used as a clubhouse and changing rooms.

For a list of common issues and what to do see:

planning and managing low-risk, small-scale sports and activities.


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