Planning for Safety: UK Medical Requirements for Ameteur Sports Clubs

As part of the essential duty of care at your amateur sports club, you must always consider health and safety. Medtree, a worldwide distributor of medical supplies and first aid kits, is detailing the UK medical requirements for your sports club.

As part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, all UK sports clubs have a duty of care to those who play, work or visit the sports club. This includes:

  • Players for the particular sport
  • Coaching staff
  • Volunteers
  • Parents or visitors
  • Contractors
  • Away team staff, visitors and players

For a detailed and clear health and safety procedure, you must undertake risk assessments of your club. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 makes provisions for securing the health, safety and welfare of people at work, and it is a requirement that you have a procedure in place. Templates are available online if you are unsure what to include in the risk assessment.

Risk Assessments

A risk assessment is a requirement to check all activities and equipment are up-to-date and as safe as can be. The risk assessment will, in turn, help reduce the risk of any incident occurring at your premises. However, if an accident does happen, you will have a process in place outlining the necessary steps.

Your sports club risk assessment should include:

  • The action to resolve any incidents
  • First aiders at the venue
  • Identify and unsafe equipment or conditions
  • Reassess to establish whether the unsafe conditions were resolved

Any risks identified during the risk assessment must be dealt with immediately, according to government requirements. Before any players or visitors attend your sports club, you should have remedied those risks. If you have not and a team arrives for a match, for example, that game must be cancelled until you have done so.

For further information, the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) manage and recognise over 100 sports, and outline how often your particular sport should implement a risk assessment procedure.

Club Safety Procedures

While you can take all of the care in the world in regards to a risk assessment and health and safety, but accidents will likely occur. As a sports club, you should have club safety procedures in place, detailed in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

First Aid Provision

First aid provisions must be in place at your sports club. If you have more than one team at your sports club, you should have more than one qualified first aider, with UKCC level 2 qualifications. It is your duty of care to ensure first aid provisions are readily available at the venue, and the staff have been properly first aid trained in the event of an incident.

First Aid Kits

You must have first aid kits easily available at your club. The first aid kits must be well-stocked and regularly checked for any medical apparatus or materials that may need restocking. If your team is travelling for an away game, for example, you must take an off-site first aid kit, accompanied by a qualified first aider.

A sports first aid kit should include:

  • Gloves
  • Various types of dressing
  • Eye pads
  • Sharp and blunt scissors
  • Instant ice packs
  • Sports tape
  • Triangular bandages
  • Sterile gauze swabs
  • Crepe bandages
  • Wound wash solution
  • Deep freeze spray
  • Emergency foil blanket
  • Safety pins
  • Resuscitation face mask

Accident Reporting

Accident reporting is a medical requirement for your sports club. You must report all incidents and accidents in an already existing form, completed as soon as possible. An accident can be anything that has led to injury, or unsafe activity.

First Aid Away Team

Duty of care at a sports club involved ensuring all away teams and visitors are taken care of. If an accident should occur, you must report the incident. First aid provisions must be clearly outlined, and staff made aware of their responsibilities, before the away team or visitors arrive.

Steps to Implementing an Emergency Plan

Medtree are sharing nine steps to creating an in-depth emergency plan. If you do not have an emergency procedure in place, you must act immediately. Once you have one, it’s your responsibility to distribute it to the relevant persons and trained staff.

  1. Ascertain who is responsible for the plan, who will implement and review the procedure
  2. Ensure you’re up-to-date on the government requirements of health and safety in a workplace
  3. Train those you would like to become qualified first aiders for your club
  4. Ensure you have first aid provisions and you keep a record of all first aid certificates, along with expiry dates of said certificates
  5. Familiarise and work in accordance with the sports club’s risk assessment procedure
  6. Provide detailed handouts for staff, players and all visitors, containing emergency information and the qualified first aiders
  7. All staff chosen as first aiders must be aware of their responsibilities
  8. Ensure all staff understand how to complete the accident and incident report forms
  9. Keep a well-stocked and regularly updated first aid kit at your premises, along with a first aid kit for away visits

Extras to include in your medical kit?

A first aid kit, containing all materials mentioned above, is a medical requirement for UK sports clubs: amateur or professional. However, we recommend looking into additional medical apparatus, such as defibrillators, that have been proven to reduce risk to life.

Defibrillators

Defibrillators are an essential piece of medical kit and have been known to greatly reduce the loss of life. In 2012, Fabrice Muamba’s shock cardiac arrest on the pitch shocked the sporting world and has prompted further investigation into providing defibs for sports clubs. The incident sparked a partnership between the Football Association (FA) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF). They have teamed up to place defibrillators in football clubs up and down the country. The FA and BHF have donated up to £400,000 to be used for two-thirds of the cost of a defibrillator. More than 640 defibrillators are now in UK football clubs, and are more than 900 defibrillators available for clubs within the UK.

A defibrillator is vital. The medical apparatus doubles a person’s chance of life if they suffer from a cardiac arrest. If a player suffers a sudden cardiac arrest (SAC), they are estimated to have a 10% chance of survival. However, with a defibrillator at the sports club, their chance of survival increases to a staggering 70%. A number of young people are thought to be suffering from undiagnosed heart problems, and a defibrillator can save many lives. Providing clubs with equipment to do so is a vital aspect of health and safety within sports, and you can apply for defibrillators for your sports club at footballdefibs.org.

Sara Askew, Head of Survival at the British Heart Foundation: “When someone collapses with a cardiac arrest, every second is vital. Defibrillators are an important part of the chain of survival, along with calling the emergency services and starting CPR.

Performing CPR and using a defibrillator can help double a person’s chance of survival. That’s why we need this life saving equipment to be available and maintained so that it can be used in an emergency.”

Concussion and Head Injuries

Concussion awareness and treatment has vastly improved over the years, but you still need to be aware of recognising the symptoms. The Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA) has developed concussion guidelines along with medical professionals to ensure rules are in place to protect players.

To identify concussion, you need to be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Unsteadiness on feet
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision

Concussion Statistics

Sports surveys have found that those who play contact sports suffer the most concussion. If you suspect one of your players is suffering from the symptoms of concussion, you must remove them immediately. For example, the amount of rugby players suffering from concussion has soared to a staggering 59%. Another study concluded that concussion rates in Premiership Rugby have massively increased, from 6.7 concussions per 1,000 players in the 2012-13 season, to 15.8 concussions per 1,000 players in the 2015-16 season. The number of concussions in rugby has risen every year from 2012.

These findings have spanned further investigation into concussion and their consequences. FIFPro attempted to find a connection between concussion in former athletes, and the later risks of mental health. Their results stated that players who suffered concussion more than four times in their career were 1.5 times more likely to suffer from mental disorders. These statistics highlight the need to put precautions in place to stop players suffering the lasting effects of concussion.