How Sports Clubs adapt to Icy conditions

Sports Events and Facilities can still take place in winter weather

As an insurance broker, we know full well that slip and trip accidents and related claims increase during the Autumn and Winter season. Reduced daylight, leaves on paths and icy conditions all contribute to increased risk of claims.

However, sports clubs should not need to reduce their planned events and available facilities, having a negative effect on their income. Instead they should implement effective actions to reduce the risk of slips and trips. At Club Insure we have listed a few key considerations which will help improve the safety of sports event in winter.

Tips to improve the safety of sports event in winter:

Improve lighting

We ask operators review their sports clubs and question: Is there is enough lighting around the workplace for workers to be able to see and avoid hazards that might be on the ground?

The best way to review safety is to ask your staff. Alternatively, shadow your employees for a couple of days and see the risks for yourself. Walk the main internal and external routes that they use throughout their working day. It is important to do this both inside and outside of the sports facility, including the car park – risks will change as the effect of light changes during the day. If you find hazards on the ground and you can’t see them, there is a problem – you will need to improve your risk management. This could be cleaning up areas, creating new procedures, and increasing artificial lighting.

Clear wet and decaying leaves

Fallen leaves that become wet or have started to decay will create slip risks. Firstly, they become slippery and are a dangerous risk. Secondly, they hide any hazard that may be on the path beneath them.

Responsible sports clubs need to put in place a procedure for removing leaves before events and at regular intervals throughout the week. This will certainly help reduce the likelihood of slips and trips. Sports clubs may want to consider removing trees and bushes on the premises – before this action is taken it will need to be discuss with professionals and your broker.

Address issues due to rain water

Rain will cause grass to become overly wet so people need to be discouraged from walking on the grass. It’s wise to dissuade people from taking shortcuts over grass or dirt which are likely to become slippery when wet. This can be done with signage and digital information. Consider converting existing shortcuts into proper paths if they are used all too frequently.

We understand that most slip accidents actually happen at the entrance to a building. Rainwater leaking or dropping in front of a well-used entrance will cause a serious issue and should be addressed. Fitting canopies of a good size over building entrances and in the right position can be a solution.

If a canopy is not a possibility, consider installing large, absorbent mats or even changing the entrance flooring to one which is non-slip. Slip resistant material is ideal and may need to be invested in for outdoor areas.

Reduce the risk of slips from ice, frost or snow

To reduce the likelihood of slips on ice, frost or snow, sports club operators need to assess the risks and put in place a succession of procedures to manage it.

Firstly, identify the outdoor areas used by pedestrians most likely to be affected by ice; building entrances, car parks, pedestrian walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade. Monitoring the temperature is key to prevention and procedures will need to be ready to go when the ambient temperature drops.

When freezing temperatures are forecast, take action. This could include organising defrosting water sources, clean up services, voluntary path clearing or moving snow. Remaining up to date by eyeing the Met Office or Highways England will help keep your team updated.

Put a procedure in place to organise the distribution of grit on areas prone to be slippery in frosty, icy conditions. Have equipment such as snow shovels in place, ready to be used to move snow and clear car parks. Consider covering walkways with rubber matting, or an arbour high enough for people to walk through, or use an insulating material on smaller areas overnight.

When ambient temperatures fall below a certain point, it may be wise to start putting out information, diverting pedestrians to less slippery walkways and barrier off existing ones that you fear are risk prone. Bear in mind, if warning cones are used, remember to remove them once the hazard has passed or they will eventually be ignored.

When to use gritting?

The most common method used to de-ice the ground is gritting. Gritting is cheap, easy to apply and quick to spread. Rock salt is the most frequently used type of gritting. It is the substance used on public roads by the highways authority, so it should be readily available..

The HSE provide advice on how to spread grit effectively: “Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below freezing. The best times are early in evening before the frost settles and/or early in the morning before employees arrive. Salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the floor. If you grit when it is raining heavily the salt will be washed away, causing a problem if the rain then turns to snow. Compacted snow, which turns to ice, is difficult to treat effectively with grit. Be aware that ‘dawn frost’ can occur on dry surfaces, when early morning dew forms and freezes on impact with the cold surface. It can be difficult to predict when or where this condition will occur.”

Contact your broker

For effective risk management solutions, contact Club Insure. We have risk management options and risk assessments available for you to use and implement at your facility or event. Our policyholder get plenty of information to help them improve safety at their club. Alternatively, call us and we will have an expert broker on hand to help you with your health and safety, procedures and finances. Our mission is to protect clubs, whatever the shape or size, and highlight their importance to the public’s welfare.