Safety and Mitigating Risk

Risk is all around us. Working in the field of recreation we talk about risk constantly. In today’s world it seems to be talked about with consistency. While activities carry risk and it’ can’t be totally unavoidable, it can be mitigated.

If you’ve been in the athletic, fitness, or recreation world in any capacity you’ve likely heard the word “safety” thrown around with much frequency.  In no means do I think it should be taken lightly.  If you’ve spent any amount of time in gym you know that people seem to throw caution to wind and as a result some unfortunate things can happen.  In the field we talk about risk management and mitigating risk on a daily basis.  Before you develop a new program it’s likely that you’ve either thought about, or been asked to assess the risk of said adventure.  There’s a reason for this beyond wanting to make sure people are doing things safely so they don’t get hurt, hurt someone else, or damage a piece of equipment.  While most people think it’s just that, in reality it’s really based around legality.  The legal system drives so much of what we do, and as a result we have to adjust to new norms in order to protect ourselves.  As a business it’s very easy to lose everything you’ve work for because of something you did or did not do.  Fair or not fair it’s the way it is.  If you’re not thinking about safety you’re leaving yourself or your organization open to possible litigation.

We can’t always avoid accidents.  People are going to get hurt.  We can adjust rules, add equipment, open space, etc. but it’s not always avoidable.  To avoid problems it’s best to focus on staff and start there.  It’s pretty standard now to have a least one person on staff certified in CPR/First Aid.  The expectation for facilities is to have trained personnel in these components, but for them to also have an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator (AED) in the building and staff trained to use it.  Pair that with the numerous waivers that are required to do anything it’s surprising to me when I see organization not doing these things.  If you’re reading this and you don’t have policies in place or aren’t sure where to start please contact me.  I’ll help you get the right policies and procedures in place.  It’s too important not to have these things in place for any number of reasons.

Taking a step back and looking at risk management of a program.  When we look at floor hockey programs most people are primarily concerned about kids getting hit in the head.  One of the ways risk has been mitigated to avoid this issue was creating a stick that had a lot of flex in it.  This gave the look and feel of a hockey stick, but the excessive flex reduced the potential for the stick to rise up during follow through.  While this is one way to go about it the main issue I see with that it reduces the sport a bit.  By taking away functionality of the equipment it makes the sport less enjoyable in this manner, which is one reason why we don’t see floor hockey outside of schools.  Don’t confuse PE floor hockey with ball or street hockey.  The risk management there is that they require protective equipment to play which adds a whole different set of challenges when talking about risk management.

Floorball comparatively has lower risk management to floor hockey.  While the concern for high sticks is there the sticks are shorter and lighter.  This allows for more control in tight spaces.  A full swing and follow through with a floorball stick, for most, is shorter than a hockey stick.  Per the rules of the game players must keep sticks below the waist at all times this helps reduce the possibility of a head injury.  Players can be coached and taught to control their sticks, and because of the increase in performance leads to a more enjoyable experience for the participants.  While sticks will and do come up, in many cases the instance has less force because it in inadvertent, especially with beginner players. It’s at least worth noting that when we look at the risk and things done to mitigate risk without losing the essence of the sport Floorball is worth a look.



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