Competent running of sports clubs and amateur sports centres come under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. These laws apply to the employers and the self-employed involved in running these centres. The employers must also use the Act in this situation to protect those not officially at work, i.e. volunteer staff, visiting teams and spectators. Everybody at the leisure centre and in connection with it, should not be at risk. Sports can mean anything from swimming clubs to hockey teams to gymnastics. Anyone who controls premises like sports grounds and work out areas must ensure that all equipment is in good working order. Management must ensure that no one is at risk, in both indoor and outdoor areas. Management at sports clubs have a duty of care to ensure they regularly check sports equipment and premises to ensure all is safe and in good working order.

However, health and safety law does not cover injuries incurred by players in competitive sports. The safety of participants in competitions and those partaking in training at these sports clubs may go beyond the set workplace health and safety rules. Sports governing bodies specifically regulate sports and leisure centre related environments. Every sport has a different governing body that defines how that particular sport is operated through its sports societies and clubs. National and international sports federations create common sets of rules and guidelines for competitions and sports related activities. A federation can be different from a national governing body due to government recognition requirements. There are also professional leagues and many other local and international sport bodies that have health and safety rules in place. The Sport and Recreation Alliance is the umbrella organisation in the UK, representing the different governing and representative bodies, and, has 320 member organisations. These member organisations run their sport or activity, promote participation and set the rules and conditions under which it takes place.

When planning and running low risk sports events and activities, the club/premises owners are required to consider the safety of all concerned. Areas that must be considered are the weather conditions, access roads and paths, seating areas, playing areas, parking, first aid provision and emergency procedures. For example, some leisure centres have swimming pools; these would need to be managed in a risk controlled environment because of the risk of drowning. Pool operators would have to display safety signs in clear view, have first aiders on site and respiratory equipment within easy reach. Simple sensible precautions may be enough for some aspects of an event or sport club centre. Other areas will involve meticulous risk assessment with control of those risks.



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