Risk management for public entities: Multi-purpose sports fields and sporting events

As the season brings warmer weather, community sporting events play a vital role in promoting physical activity and forming a cohesive sense of community. By adopting a standardized risk management plan for your multi-purpose sports fields, you can help identify and address risk exposures, thus enabling you to put in place the appropriate measures to keep the fields and any events held on them safe for everyone.

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As the season brings warmer weather, community sporting events play a vital role in promoting physical activity and forming a cohesive sense of community. By adopting a standardized risk management plan for your multi-purpose sports fields, you can help identify and address risk exposures, thus enabling you to put in place the appropriate measures to keep the fields and any events held on them safe for everyone.

The following guidance highlights key areas of consideration when developing and implementing a risk management plan for your multi-purpose sports fields and sporting events. It should not be taken as an exhaustive list and should be used in conjunction with your internal policies and procedures, as well as in compliance with local laws and regulations.

Field and equipment safety

Multi-purpose sports fields and facilities require a comprehensive maintenance program that outlines inspections for cleanliness and safety and how to dispatch any damages that would require repairs or replacement. This program should provide checklists of what needs to be inspected, explain how often inspections need to be done and how to log the findings. Place the program in an easily accessible location and install a centralized documentation repository to log all inspection and findings. To build a robust safety program, consider including the following elements:

inspection and findings. To build a robust safety program, consider including the following elements:

  • Establish an inspection policy, which should outline the required frequency of inspections and activities taken to repair, remove, and reinstate damaged or defective equipment.
  • Conduct regular inspection of all sports fields (for example, grass, synthetic grass, sand, gravel), facilities (such as changing rooms and restrooms), and equipment (for example, field lighting, audio speakers) to verify they are in satisfactory working condition:
    • Confirm handrails, barriers, railings are sturdy
    • Remove or fix any slip, trip, or fall hazards
    • Remove any garbage, broken glass, and other debris
    • Make sure paint is not cracking, peeling, or flaking
    • Maintain high-usage areas (for example, entrances, exits, restrooms, and spectator stands) regularly
    • Check that field lighting is projecting appropriate level of lumens/brightness
  • Identify any damages and immediately dispatch them to be repaired or replaced
  • Post signage advising patrons if equipment is unavailable for use and/or under repair
  • Inspect any repairs or replacements made to fields, facility, and equipment prior to use
  • Confirm fire extinguishers and other safety equipment are in-place and in good condition

First aid

Operators will need to supply first aid kits available for use by  staff, volunteers, and patrons. In addition, operators will need to conduct regular inspection of the first aid and safety equipment available at the facility, and if the multi-purpose sports field is staffed, confirming that the appropriate staff are trained in first aid response.

  • Locate all first aid kits in easily accessible areas in the terrain park
  • Regularly check that all first aid kits are stocked and in good condition
  • Track the maintenance of the first aid kits in the centralized repository
  • Develop a roster of staff required to hold active first-aid training certification, including knowing how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • Track the currency of all personnel’s certifications and require them to take recertification training and provide updated documentation in order to maintain employment at the facility

Event security

Multi-purpose sports fields and facilities should have a physical security plan in place when hosting events, especially if the event is anticipated to draw a large number of attendees and spectators. It should consider which passive and active measures to implement, as well as determine whether to utilize private security or local law enforcement. In addition, selected security measures can prove to be useful during the day-to-day use of multi-purpose sports fields and facilities when not in use for hosting events.

  • Passive security measures
    • Install video surveillance and post signage indicating that the premises is under surveillance
    • Post signage including contact information and location of event security
    • Clearly designate all security stations and checkpoints
    • Ensure that security staff are in highly visible uniforms
  • Active security measures
    • Position security checkpoints at entrances and exits
    • Install security stations in strategic locations, where there will be direct line of sight for the entire event venue
    • Arrange security patrols throughout the event
    • Implement a security communication system
    • Establish an incident response plan, with special considerations for these emergencies:
      • Medical
      • Evacuation
      • Fire
      • Active shooter

Food and beverage safety

Multi-purpose sports fields and facilities that serve food and beverages — especially alcohol — will need to contemplate the safe preparation, handling, and distribution of food and beverages to attendees. Key considerations in this area include appropriate preparation and distribution, while ensuring that staff and volunteers have the appropriate certifications to carry out their roles and responsibilities.

  • Preparation and handling
    • Provide staff and volunteers with access to hand washing stations
    • Require staff and volunteers perform proper hand hygiene prior to handling any food
    • Obtain the necessary food handling certifications
    • Store all food and beverages at a safe temperature and in appropriate containers
  • Distribution
    • If serving alcoholic beverages:
      • Have available a variety of non-alcoholic alternatives
      • Only provide attendees with one alcoholic beverage at a time
      • Avoid serving alcoholic beverages larger than the standard serving size (for example, tall boy drinks)
      • Avoid serving shooter liquors
      • Secure the appropriate liquor license
      • Verify staff and volunteers have obtained appropriate certifications prior to serving

Signage

When hosting an event at a multi-purpose sports field, having the appropriate signage throughout the facility helps keep attendees and participants informed of areas of interest, which include the following:

  • Entrances and exits
  • Emergency exits
  • Capacity limits
  • Concession areas
  • Restrooms
  • Change rooms
  • First aid stations
  • Security stations
  • Garbage and recycling disposal areas

In addition, having the following signage throughout the facility will provide guidance to patrons during the day-to-day use of multi-purpose sports fields and facilities when not in use for hosting events.

  • Restricted activity
    • No horseplay
  • Safe Use of the Multi-Purpose Sports Field
    • Unsupervised park — Patrons assume own risk
    • Features of the multi-purpose sports fields
    • Recommend use of protective equipment (for example, helmets)
    • Patron etiquette and conduct
  • First aid station
    • Identify first-aid locations
    • Remind patrons to call 9-1-1 for emergencies

Summary

The adoption of a wide-ranging risk management plan for your multi-purpose sports fields will help keep them safe for community use, as well as help you effectively mitigate the risks of harm and, where possible, transfer risks.

If you have questions, please contact your Marsh representative.