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Health and Safety Risk Assessment for Football Clubs

football in front of goalOn any given weekend you will now find many thousands of local grass root football clubs up and down the country, training and competing in matches. These will be for both men and women, boys and girls and for veterans.

But as numbers of players increase, there is also an increasing need for health and safety issues to be considered and for volunteers and committees to be aware of what they should be doing to keep players and spectators safe.

In this blog, we’ll look at the many different things to consider for those volunteers that are needing to carry out a risk assessment for a football game whether it’s played on a wet November Sunday or an exceedingly hot day in June.

Health and Safety Must Underpin Preparation

In order to ensure the wellbeing and safety of everyone from players and coaches through to spectators on match day are thought through, health and safety issues must be a critical part of planning and preparation.

Whilst the HSE states that volunteers who are running a club with no employees do not generally have to apply by the Health and Safety Law, there are exceptions such as if those volunteers have responsibility for a clubhouse, sports equipment or playing fields. In these cases, they would need to ensure the items are ‘safe for the persons using them so far as is reasonably practicable’. For more detail see the HSE website.

That said, there are plenty of practical tips and simple things club volunteers and committee members can do to improve the health and safety of match day.

Keeping Players Safe

Equipment and Kit – Make sure all players have the correct kit such as football boots and shin pads. Appropriate warm or layered clothing, hats or caps, or sun protection lotion depending on the temperature as well as appropriate energy foods whether that be gels, drinks or the good old cut up orange.

Fitness – Ensure all players are fit to play on the day and that any medication needs are known or is onsite in case of emergencies such as inhalers and that emergency phone numbers are easily available.

Families and Spectators Staying Safe on Match Day

If families or spectators are likely to be standing still on the sidelines for the match it will be important that they too are advised to think though what they might need, such as wellies and an umbrella if it’s muddy and wet, a flask of tea and appropriate clothing if it’s cold and sun lotion if it’s a beautiful sunny day – because many people underestimate how quickly the skin burns.

Health and Safety Considerations for the Clubhouse, the Pitch

The ClubhouseAs mentioned above health and safety laws do apply to those who have responsibility for a non-domestic premises like a clubhouse. The law expects you to take ‘reasonable measures’ to make sure the equipment and access is safe and in good condition as is ‘reasonably practicable’.

Things to consider are:

  • Clean and suitable changing rooms
  • Separate changing for different genders
  • Shower facilities
  • Food and drink, water dispensers or tap water being available
  • Toilet facilities – will someone be checking the provision of toilet roll especially for example at an all-day tournament

The PitchVolunteers will need to ensure that the pitch is in good condition, clear of animal mess or litter and broken glass. Match Officials must look at the weather conditions and decide if they feel if it safe to proceed especially after heavy rain or if it is expected.

Safety on the Football Site

There are many other elements of health and safety around the football club site that together can make a big difference to the overall safety of the match day.

First Aid – Make sure the appropriate first aid kit(s) is available and that those with first aid training can be easily contacted. Have you thought through where an ambulance could enter the site if needed and the roles and responsibilities for this scenario?

Officials and Signage – Having sufficient match officials, ensuring there is plenty of parking and marshals to direct cars as well as directional signage to ensure spectators know where to go for the match or to find other facilities.

Fire Prevention and SafetySignage stipulating no smoking areas / designated smoking area as well as the appropriate fire extinguishers or fire blankets.

Safeguarding of Children – Think through your procedure for dealing with lost children or unruly and unsupervised children.

Working with the Police – If its appropriate inform the police of your tournament or match if you suspect there may be any issues or seek guidance from them so that you have any back up should you need it.

Documenting your Risk Assessment Process

These are just some of the key areas to consider when doing a risk assessment before a football match but how do I document this I hear you ask?

We’ve written up an example Risk Assessment document to give you some guidance and it can be adapted to suit your club and risks.

Download the Example Football Match Risk Assessment

Insight into Health and Safety in a League Two Club

We spoke to Ground Safety Officer, Mark Smith at Forest Green Rovers FC to understand the importance and implications of health and safety for a league two club.

Every English Football League (EFL) match is subject to a license that is issued by the Sports Ground Safety Authority in conjunction with the Safety Advisory Group (SAG). The SAG is Chaired by the Gloucestershire County Council with the group made up of professionals from local government, representatives from the police, fire and ambulance service services as well as Club Officials.

The license granted for the staging of matches is underpinned by risk assessments and policies with the aim of keeping everyone attending the ground safe. To enforce this the Club are subject to regular matchday audits by the licensing authorities, some pre-planned and some spontaneous where all aspects of stadium safety will be examined and tested.

Everyone attending the ground is bound by a set of rules, the EFL Ground Regulations, a copy of which is posted at every entrance to the ground.

These simple rules are there to ensure that everyone can enjoy the match but also allow supporters to be aware of some specific football related legislation that applies to football grounds, particularly around the consumption of alcohol or the possession of pyrotechnic devises for example.

How Sureteam can Support your Football Club

A risk assessment helps club volunteers and paid Health and Safety Officers to ensure that as far as possible they have thought through every aspect of putting on a match and that they have done what they can to keep players and spectators safe.

For most grass roots clubs you will be able to do this yourself, but if you are employed by a club at higher level Sureteam can provide you with advice or support you with your risk assessment process.

Perhaps most helpfully, Sureteam can provide training courses to key groups of your volunteers or ground staff to ensure they have the latest knowledge. For example we run first aid training courses, online health and safety essentials training, fire safety training or training in risk assessments.

Don’t forget you can download our free example football assessment and if you have any queries about your team’s health and safety and would like Sureteam’s support give us a call on 01666 503686 or fill out our contact form.