Health & Safety On Your Sports Pitch

Getting it right for your users: how to plan health and safety at your sports pitch construction

If you’re planning a sports pitch construction at any level, from installing a synthetic sports surface to building a brand new tennis court, MUGA or football club, you couldn’t have chosen a better time. London 2012 was a massive national sporting fever, making the UK ripe for new facilities. You’ll soon be enjoying a multitude of users through your doors, keen to make the most of your 21st century sporting facilities. That’s good news for you – but to ensure a happy result all round it’s important that you take the time to consider health and safety issues to protect both your users and yourself.

Why is health and safety important in sports pitch construction?

Whilst not the most riveting subject in the world, health and safety is important from a legal and reputational point of view. If you plan to own a sports pitch construction in the form of a club, training venue or stadium then the law recognises your duties in two ways. The presence of staff or volunteers – for example at a MUGA or new tennis court – requires you under the Health and Safety at Work Act to be responsible for their welfare. The law also recognises a common law duty of care to users of your multi sports area, artificial pitch or any other sporting facility you intend to install.

Establishing proper health and safety procedures is good for business too, since it protects your reputation. In the unlikely event that something does go wrong it’s beneficial to show that you have taken all reasonable steps to protect players, spectators and staff at your sports pitch construction. Of course, the quality of modern day artificial turf pitches, synthetic sports surfaces and other sporting equipment has greatly reduced the risk of many injuries. It probably won’t happen, but if it does you’ll be glad that you took the time to get the right procedures in place to satisfy legal and insurance requirements.

How do I implement health and safety in my sports pitch construction?

Health and Safety legislation is not as inflexible as you might think. Your duty of care extends to taking steps that are reasonable and practical to protect others. That means that your policies should be proportionate to the level and use of your facility. It follows that safety procedures for a synthetic sports surface at a small local club do not need to be as stringent as, for example, welcoming 20,000 users at a full sized football pitch construction.

The key lies in identifying and assessing risks at every stage. During the construction phase you will need to perform risk assessments for workmen on site. Once your facility is open you need to consider your users. Fire safety, risk of accidents, crowd control and emergency exits are all issues you should consider. There may be specific risks associated with the nature of your sports pitch construction. For example, a swimming pool owner will need to establish safe storage of potentially hazardous pool cleaning chemicals. Whereas a full sized football pitch construction or stadium anticipating large crowds should consider issues such as parking control for visitors. You can find a good guide to performing a risk assessment with useful templates in the UK Sports Guide to Safety in Sport.

What other safety issues should I consider in sports pitch construction?

Over and above risk assessment, consider the users of your facility and their needs. If you are responsible for a new playground safety surface for children or a MUGA for young people, it’s  wise to have any staff and volunteers CRB checked. Make sure as well that sports fencing and entrances and exits are secure to protect children against potential intruders. Disability access is a common issue. Our guide to ensuring exemplary disability access in your facility will put you on the right track.

Finally, and importantly, it’s vital to make sure your insurance is up to date to protect your sports pitch construction, its users, and of course yourself. Consult our guide to getting insurance right for your sports pitch construction to get you started. Once you’ve got health and safety all wrapped up you can enjoy complete peace of mind, safe in the knowledge that your new tennis court,3G pitch, or any other sporting venue and its users are completely protected.