Dan Diehl, Paul O’Malley & Lou Ronsivalli.
A Primer on Medical Safety for UK Sports Clubs19 January 2018 / by BTME Group (author) / Telford
All sports clubs within the UK have a duty of care to those who play, work or visit the sports club. This can include:
Players for the particular sport
Parents or visitors
Away team staff, visitors and players
Your sports club must undertake risk assessments and have a clear health and safety procedure outlined for those playing and visiting. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 makes provisions for securing the health, safety and welfare of people at work, and you must have a procedure in place. You can find templates online if you are unsure of what yours should include.
If you are running a UK sports club, it’s essential to implement a risk assessment to check whether all activities and equipment are as safe as can be. This is to reduce the risk of any incident occurring at your premises.
A risk assessment should include:
The action to resolve any incidents
First aiders at the venue
Identify and unsafe equipment or conditions
Reassess to establish whether the unsafe conditions were resolved
If you do identify risks during your assessment, you must resolve these before players come to the sports club and use the venue and equipment. If this is not done before players arrive for a game, for example, this should be cancelled until the risks are resolved.
The National Governing Bodies (NGBs) manage and recognise over 100 sports, and outline how often your particular sport should implement a risk assessment procedure.
Club Safety Procedures
You can take care of all precautions, risk assessments and implement a well-thought out health and safety procedure, but accidents do happen. All clubs should have emergency procedures as part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
First Aid Provision
Every UK sports club should have first aid provisions in place. If a sports club has more than one team, it is advised you have more than one qualified first aider, with UKCC level 2 qualifications. It is the duty of care of sports club managers to ensure adequate first aid training is provided to staff, and arrange for cover for team matches and visits.
First Aid Kits
First aid kits are essential for all sports clubs. Your club must have a well-stocked first aid kit as part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. If your team is travelling for games, a first aid kit must be available off-site, accompanied by a qualified first aider.
A sports first aid kit should include:
Various types of dressing
Sharp and blunt scissors
Instant ice packs
Sterile gauze swabs
Wound wash solution
Deep freeze spray
Emergency foil blanket
Resuscitation face mask
It is essential that you report all accidents and incidents, and you should already have a form in place to fill out. The accident report should be completed as soon as possible. An accident or incident is anything that has led to injury, or an unsafe activity.
First Aid Away Team
As a sports club, it’s likely away teams will visit your venue for games. If this is the case, it’s your duty of care to ensure the away team and visitors are taken care of, if an accident should occur. Your team also has a responsibility to record any incidents, and you should be aware of their first aid provisions before they arrive.
Steps to Implementing an Emergency Plan
If you do not have a health and safety plan in place, you must act immediately. Once your emergency action plan is established, it’s your duty to distribute it to the relevant persons. Medtree are sharing nine steps to creating and implementing your plan:
- Ascertain who is responsible for the plan, who will implement and review the procedure
- Ensure your up-to-date on the government requirements of health and safety in a workplace
- Train those you would like to become qualified first aiders for your club
- Ensure you have first aid provisions and you keep a record of all first aid certificates, along with expiry dates of said certificates
- Familiarise and work in accordance with the sports club risk assessment procedure
- Provide detailed handouts for staff, players and all visitors, containing emergency information and the qualified first aiders
- All staff chosen as first aiders must be aware of their responsibilities
- Ensure all staff understand how to complete the accident and incident report forms
- Keep a well-stocked and regularly updated first aid kit at your premises, along with a first aid kit for away visits
Extras to include in your medical kit?
While a basic first aid kit is a government requirement for all sports clubs, you should also look into providing other medical equipment that can, in some cases, greatly reduce the risk of loss of life.
Defibrillators are an essential piece of medical kit for health and safety in sports. In 2012, Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch. Since that day, the Football Association (FA) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) have teamed up to place defibrillators in football clubs up and down the country. The FA and BHF have donated up to £400,000 to be used for two-thirds of the cost of a defibrillator. More than 640 defibrillators are now in UK football clubs, and are more than 900 defibrillators available for clubs within the UK.
The importance of a defibrillator is huge. The use of the medical apparatus doubles a person’s chance of life if they suffer from a cardiac arrest. The chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest (SAC) is only 10% without a defibrillator, but 70% with a defibrillator in the first five minutes of the attack. A number of young people currently suffer from undiagnosed heart problems and the right plan, and equipment, can help save lives. Providing clubs with equipment to do so is a vital aspect of health and safety within sports, and you can apply for defibrillators for your sports club at footballdefibs.org.
Sara Askew, Head of Survival at the British Heart Foundation: “When someone collapses with a cardiac arrest, every second is vital. Defibrillators are an important part of the chain of survival, along with calling the emergency services and starting CPR.
Performing CPR and using a defibrillator can help double a person’s chance of survival. That’s why we need this life saving equipment to be available and maintained so that it can be used in an emergency.”
Concussion and Head Injuries
Awareness of the consequences of concussion in contact sports, and how to treat head injuries, has improved in recent years. The Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA) has developed concussion guidelines along with medical professionals to ensure rules are in place to protect players. Only 10% of reported concussions
To identify concussion, you need to be aware of the following symptoms:
Unsteadiness on feet
Contact sports suffer the most from concussion and, if you believe one of your players is suffering from concussion - you must remove them from the game immediately. The amount of rugby players suffering from concussion has soared to a staggering 59%. A study concluded that the rates of concussion in Premiership Rugby in England has increased from 6.7 concussions per 1,000 players in the 2012-13 season, to 15.8 concussions per 1,000 players in the 2015-16 season. The number of concussions in rugby has risen every year from 2012.
FIFPro looked into the possibility of a connection between concussion in former athletes, and the risk of mental health problems later in life. They found that players who suffered concussion four or five times in their career were 1.5 times more likely to report symptoms of common mental disorders. These statistics suggest the damage multiple concussions can cause in players, and it’s essential that all precautions are in place to protect players from suffering head injuries.