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Guidance for Safely Running a Sporting Event

21 June 2019

The recent news of Chris Froome’s horrific injuries following a crash at 40 miles per hour whilst examining a time-trial stage route in the Critérium de Dauphiné will have sent ripples through the cycling community. He suffered serious orthopaedic injuries including a fractured right femur, fractured elbow and fractured ribs. Surgical intervention was required and long term rehabilitative input will be vital.

His team mate Geraint Thomas from Team Ineos was also injured a couple of days later at the Tour De Suisse, but luckily escaped with a few minor abrasions.

The future for Chris Froome now looks uncertain and there is a long road of recovery ahead for him.

Duty of care by organisers of sporting events

Sporting events are organised frequently across the country. When severe injuries like this occur, sporting event organisers should be asking themselves whether there is more they can do to reduce the risk to the participants of the event.

The organisers of sporting events owe a duty of care to take all reasonable steps to ensure that those participating in the event and watching the event are reasonably safe. It must also be borne in mind that there is an even higher duty of care owed to people working at the event, whether voluntarily or on a paid basis due to the increased duties owed by employers to employees.

There is a wealth of guidance online produced by the Health and Safety Executive and also relevant sporting bodies.

One of the first decisions to make when running an event is to decide who will be responsible for health and safety within the organisation. This needs to be clearly understood by everyone involved in the planning.

It would be prudent to ensure that there is a health and safety policy in place and that it is followed. The policy should set out the general approach taken to health and safety and also define who is responsible for the health and safety. It should provide guidance of how the policy is to be executed.

The key tool for safety planning is the use of risk assessments and these should not be overlooked. The risk assessment needs to be ‘suitable and sufficient.’

When carrying out the risk assessment, consideration must be given to what might cause harm to people impacted by the event and how that risk can be minimised. Therefore, the impact the risks that have been identified will have on participants, spectators, employees, volunteers and contractors will all need to be considered.

Action should be taken to minimise the risks that have been identified in the risk assessment.

The risk assessment should be recorded and needs to be regularly updated if anything about the event changes.

By adopting a pre-emptive approach to the risks that may arise, you will be showing that you have not overlooked just how important the health and safety of all those involved is. This will hopefully reduce catastrophic injuries like those suffered by Chris Froome and prevent accidents happening during the course of sporting events.

By Anna Silcox

For further advice on the above topics, please call us on 01483 543222 or alternatively email enquiries@barlowrobbins.com

See our dedicated Sporting Accidents service page to see what we do and how our solicitors can help.