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GCSE: Safety Aspects and Risk Assessment

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Why are risk assessments important?

  1. 1 These are commonplace and a legal requirement in every sports establishment. There should be policies in place that require the completion and updating of RAs.
  2. 2 To create a RA, firstly spend time IN the space/environment and look around. Think, what are the ‘hazards’; what are the things that COULD go wrong here and could possibly cause a problem or harm? Don’t overlook anything – think pessimistically – what could be even the slightest hazard to people in that space?
  3. 3 Then, think about what could be in place as a ‘control measure’ to reduce or remove the risk of the identified hazard. These should be written and explained and put into place.
  4. 4 It’s important to then generate a risk rating (out of 3) for the likelihood of the hazard occurring and the severity of the hazard. Multiply these by each other for the risk rating. Values over ¾ should then be looked at again as this indicates that ‘further action’ is required to reduce the risk. If the risk rating is higher (eg: 7), then the activity should NOT take place as it is considered too dangerous with the current risks and control measures.
  5. 5 If the risk assessments is not completed and signed by those leading the activities, then the individuals and organization could be considered ‘negligent’ if an accident occurs. RAs can be evidence that safety has been seriously considered and action taken to make the environment and activity a safe place for all present.

Sports injuries

  1. 1 Many students will have experienced some form of injury through their involvement of sport. This is a resource in itself. Discussion can reveal not only the cause and symptoms of the injury, but also the treatment of it.
  2. 2 It’s important to differentiate between acute and chronic injuries. Acute injuries are those that have occurred from a specific incident (eg, a sprained ankle or a fracture), whereas chronic injuries are a result of longer term activity or overuse (eg shin splints or tendonitis).
  3. 3 Exam questions or coursework tasks will often require you to write the cause of an injury, the symptoms it will show and how it can be treated. Make sure you include these elements to an answer.
  4. 4 Always remember to give examples of the injury and think about the sorts of sports or activities that this kind of injury might occur in (eg sprinters often pull their hamstrings, or tennis players often have tendonitis in the elbow – tennis elbow - from overusing these muscles / joits).
  5. 5 In some cases, the correct form of exercise can help avoid injuries (eg: strength training can increase joint stability and reduce the risks of dislocations and sprains).

Five safety aspects for a coach to consider

  1. 1 Personal Protective Equipment - When explaining how safety hazards can be reduced, remember to include the use of PPE by participants (and sometimes coaches). This is things such as gumshields, shin pads and body armour.
  2. 2 Qualifications – RAs should include the process of checking instructor or coach qualifications. Taking participants kayaking for eg, requires an appropriate level of instructor qualification from the National Governing Body (NGB). This MUST be checked.
  3. 3 Ethical factors – Ethics is simply explained as deciding what is right or wrong. Ethically, it would be wrong to knowing lead a session when there are uncontrolled dangers. It’s also ethically wrong to cause emotional harm to someone. If a participant is VERY frightened doing an activity, they should NOT be forced to do it.
  4. 4 Legal factors – If safety factors are NOT anticipated, the law may find you negligent and you will be accountable to the Health & Safety Executive and the law. This may result in dismissal from your job, fines or possibly a prison sentence.
  5. 5 Responsibilities – there are many contributing roles to maintaining safety : parents, coaches / teachers, participants. There are legal expectations too. Codes of Conduct should be in place (‘rules’ to clarify how things should be and how you should behave) and sports specifically have rules to maintain the safety of players and officials to employ them such as non-contact rules in netball and basketball. Assignments should not forget these factors.

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