Sports And Recreation - Risk Management

​Ensure that employees and volunteers have adequate training before hosting sports and recreation activities. ​

​15 Tips for Managing Sports and Recreation Risks​​

As when you are hosting a special event, implementing proactive risk management strategies for sports and recreation events can reduce or mitigate liabilities. For instance, consider using the following strategies:

  1. Ensure the design of the sports and recreational facility is appropriate for the people who use it.
  2. Ensure equipment meets the standards set by the Canadian Standards Association. 
  3. Determine an appropriate supervisor-to-user ratio for different sports and recreation activities. The appropriate ratio will depend on the type of activity, the equipment being used, the age of the participants, etc.
  4. Screen patrons for health limitations that may make it unsafe for them to participate in your program.
  5. Use signs to warn patrons of any hazards. Signs should use symbols and French and English text where possible.
  6. Implement a screening and hiring policy to ensure that you employ only qualified people. You may wish to require a criminal background check for employees and volunteers working with the elderly or children. Ensure that employees and volunteers have adequate training in first aid, coaching and organization policies and procedures, and any other training that is appropriate to your organization.
  7. ​Adhere to national, provincial or other governing-body regulations and legislation concerning the conduct of operations.
  8. Ensure the facilities and equipment are regularly inspected for damage and repaired or replaced as necessary. There are professional consultants that you can hire to periodically inspect equipment.​​
    1. Develop an inspection schedule. For example, employees or volunteers may perform daily inspections and a qualified inspector may perform more formal monthly inspections. The frequency of inspections and the level of expertise required will vary across facilities.
    2. Design a sports and recreation inspection form that reflects the existing equipment and layout.
    3. Know the manufacturers’ requirements for service intervals and life expectancy of the equipment.
    4. Train inspectors and/or employees and volunteers in standards.
    5. Provide appropriate inspection and maintenance tools to employees and volunteers who are responsible for maintenance. For example, ensure that someone who inspects your sports fields has your organization’s Sports Field Daily Inspection Form.
    6. Develop procedures for documentation and filing. Keep records of the dates of inspections, who conducted each inspection, the findings, and the maintenance done.
    7. Develop follow-up plans (i.e., inspection of completed repairs, continuous training/review of employees, etc.).
  9. During inspection and maintenance, ensure that:
    1. Handrails, barriers and railings are sturdy enough to prevent falls
    2. Broken glass, garbage, sharp edges, bolts and other hazards that may be present are removed
    3. Paint is not cracking, peeling or flaking
    4. Damaged or defective equipment is repaired or removed
    5. Usage areas are constantly maintained – high-use areas often have materials that erode
    6. Equipment is checked for signs of wear and tear
    7. Any equipment or facility not meeting internal or external standards is shut down immediately
    8. First aid kits, fire extinguishers and other safety equipment are in place and in good condition
  1. Require staff or volunteers at your sports and recreation facility to pre-inspect the grounds for obvious hazards.
  2. Ensure users are wearing appropriate clothing and equipment. Staff should understand that they must intervene if someone is not wearing proper protective equipment.
  3. Post signs indicating the hours of operation, operating procedures, where problems or concerns should be reported and any other relevant information.
  4. Use waivers or informed consent forms. These are legal forms intended to protect your organization from liabilities either by requiring people to waive their rights to sue or by clearly informing them of the hazards and having them accept them willingly. Always consult a lawyer to develop legal forms.
  5. Use a sign-in log if waivers or consent forms cannot be used. At the top of the log, include information about potential hazards to which users may be exposed. A sign-in log can also help you keep track of:​​​​​
    1. The time and date the users enter and exit
    2. Names of users
    3. Emergency contact names and phone numbers
  6. Develop emergency and accident-response procedures and implement them as written policy. Provide all staff and volunteers with copies of and training in these procedures. Conduct drills to test these procedures.