Anyone (including volunteers), with control of a facility (e.g. clubhouse, athletics track), or an event (e.g. road/fell/trail/XC race), has a duty to see that premises, equipment and activities are safe for all participants and all those involved (officials, spectators etc.)
A great first step for all clubs/organisers of athletic activities is to review the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Guidance on Health & Safety for Sport and Leisure activities.
The guidance is designed to act as a one-stop-shop for sports clubs and bodies and includes checklists and advice to help those running sports clubs to comply with health and safety law.
Safety in Athletics
Safety should be an integral part of all athletics disciplines at all levels, from recreational running through to the highest level of track and field.
In terms of legal requirements, there are two main considerations for clubs and event/activity providers:
1. “Duty of Care” is a common law duty that applies to all individuals and organisations. This law requires that all coaches, officials, volunteers and administrators have a “duty of care” for those over whom they have a responsibility.
2. Health and safety legislation such as Acts of Parliament and regulations set specific duties for employers in order to limit the risks to anyone coming into contact with their organisation. The main Act to be aware of is the Health and Safety at Work Act
Clubs/organisers with no employees (volunteers only)
Most health and safety law and regulation applies to employers only, and as such, it is not legally binding on clubs without employees.
That said, UKA recommends that volunteer club and event providers without employees achieve the same standards of health and safety as that required of employers. This demonstrates to volunteers and participants that they are valued and will enable clubs to satisfy their duty of care requirements.b
It is key to remember, the Health and Safety at Work Act only lays down statutory duties; a common law (i.e. non statutory) duty of care towards others applies to all those who visit, work, or are affected by your club’s activities.
Clubs/organisers with paid employees
Clubs/organisers with paid employees fall within the main scope of the Health and Safety at Work Act and are required to ensure safe systems of work and a safe working environment for their staff and others using the premises where the work takes place. Therefore, if a club/organiser employs any staff then the requirements of the Act apply to activities in and around their place of work.
Those involved in running athletics activities and events need to ensure that they manage the potential risks that they face and help others to develop a knowledge and awareness of basic safety requirements. The planning and implementation of any activities in any situation should take full account of the safety requirements to ensure the organisers and participants safety.
It is hoped that this section of the website will provide those involved in athletics with advice and information, which will allow them to analyse and adjust their current practices. It is impossible to cover every aspect or situation that will require professional judgement to be exercised. No one is expected to be perfect only that they should act in a manner that is “reasonable” in the light of commonly accepted and approved good practice within the sport of athletics.