How to Conduct a Risk Assessment for the Return to Sport
With sports facilities about to reopen, and organised sports groups permitted to go ahead from March the 29th, many owners, managers, supervisors, coaches and trainers in sports settings will need to consider what steps need to be taken in the return to sport.
The initial step for almost all sports organisations, as stated in the UK government guidance, is to conduct a risk assessment to ensure that all risks relevant to Covid-19 are accounted for, and that clear procedures are in place to mitigate these risks.
From solo sports to playing in teams, to contact sport, requirements for individual risk assessments are likely to vary. To find out the specific requirements for your risk assessment, consult the National Governing Body of your sport.
Tables of Contents
What is a Risk Assessment?
As the owner, manager or volunteer of a sports team, sports facility, or club you are responsible for the safety of those around you, and for taking steps to mitigate the risk of spreading Covid-19.
A risk assessment is an evaluation of the environment and situation to identify possible threats to safety, in this case, of infection and contamination. Once these threats have been identified you will need to find solutions to manage these risks and protect people as well as possible. This means that you are fully prepared before the activity commences.
Solutions to the risks you identify could vary from putting certain procedures in place to increasing the amount of infection control equipment available to your staff and participants, and developing a more thorough cleaning schedule with disinfectant products.
Why are Risk Assessments Important?
What is the purpose of a risk assessment? Organised sports activities require groups of people to be in close contact with one another, often sharing equipment and facilities like toilets. Is this a contact sport, such as American football, that requires participants to be in physical contact with one another?
All of these factors pose individual risks of infection. It is in our interest to protect those around us to slow the spread of Coronavirus, to shield vulnerable members of the public, and minimise the likelihood of another lockdown.
Who is Responsible for the Completion of Risk Assessments?
It is the responsibility of the employer, owner, manager or volunteers of a club, group or facility to conduct a risk assessment.
If your sports group uses a venue to conduct activities you should speak to the owner of this venue. They may already have their own risk assessment processes in place for certain things, but it is required of you to ensure the venue owner and staff are fully briefed on any processes you need to put in place following your risk assessment.
There might be actions that other members of your team need to carry out following your risk assessment. But, as the person in charge, you must make the necessary people fully aware of these.
How Many Steps Are There to a Risk Assessment?
There are 5 steps to risk assessment processes recommended by the Health and Safety Executive. This checklist is designed to keep you aware of all instances of risk, and to be vigilant in keeping your risk assessment as watertight as possible. Ensure you have covered all the necessary step to risk-assess your particular sport by consulting the guidance of your sport’s National Governing Body.
The five risk assessment steps are:
- Identify the hazards
- Identify who is at risk
- Evaluate the risks and find precautions
- Carry out the precautions and record results
- Review and tweak your risk assessment
How to do a Risk Assessment
1. Identify the Hazards: What Poses a Threat to Safety?
- Walkthrough processes you will be using during activity think of any instances of risk in each step
- Talk to staff and group members for their thoughts and suggestions based on their experience
- Check historical accident records and data sheets to find any past instances of risk
2. Identify Who is at Risk: Who Will be Affected by These Hazards?
- Think of all the people who are involved in your activities and how they could be affected, either directly or indirectly
- Imagine the scenarios you considered in step one. Play them out in your mind and think about who would be affected
- Consider group members, venue hosts and staff; members of families; support staff such as cleaners, caterers etc; assistants and club partners; anyone who is touched by your activity
3. Evaluate the Risks and Find Precautions: How Severe Are the Risks and How Likely? What Are the Best Solutions?
- In this section, you will be able to record your risks in priority order and find precautions that can be implemented to minimise them. Read on to find a template you can use to keep track of these
- Consider the likelihood and severity of each risk, listing those with the highest severity at the top
- When deciding your precautionary measures, think about the availability of these solutions, their cost, and who will carry them out
The Covid-19 hierarchy of control can help you to decide what safety measures are best for which risks.
4. Carry Out the Precautions and Record Results: Ensure Risks Are Minimised, Keep Track of Your Control Measures
- Be sure to record all instances in which precautions were actioned, what the results were, who carried out the precautions and when
5. Review and Tweak Your Risk Assessment: Update and Change Processes Where Necessary
- Most precautionary measures in sports activities will be met with social distancing and infection control. As more players, parents, and spectators become involved over time, ensure you are attentive to examining and adjusting these measures
- As you physically carry out the precautions set in step three it’s likely that other risks will come to light, or that you will find more efficient ways to mitigate these threats. Update your risk assessment with these whenever necessary
- Be vigilant to respond to changes in your circumstances. For example, if your group grows considerably, or if you move to a new environment, a new risk assessment will need to be conducted to update your current one
The COVID-19 Risk assessment template
Your risk assessment will need to take the form of a table so that you can fill in all the details of your findings and the precautions you are taking. The HSE recommends including the following as columns under which you can list each risk:
- What are the Hazards?
- Who is at risk?
- What precautions are currently in place?
- What further precautions will you take?
- Who will carry out the actions?
- When should the action be completed?
You should also include a column to tick off each task.
Download our template for sports risk assessment to get started right away. Consult your National Governing Body’s guidance on how to approach a risk assessment for your particular sport, and what needs to be considered, before you start.
Risk assessment examples
This HSE risk assessment template could help you to think of what infection-related risks your sports organisation could face.
Some Covid-19 related risks and precautions could be:
In order to control the spread of Covid-19 as more of our public sports facilities open, and as larger groups are permitted to gather, we must be diligent in keeping each other safe. Getting started on your risk assessment early can help you to be well prepared.
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