Safe sports practices continue to rise in popularity, and many sports facilities are being built, updated, or remodeled to meet the increased demand.
However, as high-profile events become more common, the risks of unsafe practices also increase. The unfortunate reality is that injuries related to unsafe practices have become so common that there is now a name for them: spectator safety hazards.
As a result of these risks, the National Center for Safety Performance (NCSP) issued a bulletin with guidelines on how to keep your sports facility safe for spectators. These guidelines can be implemented by anyone responsible for upkeep of your sports facility and are applicable even if you only plan on having spectators at one event per year.
Check Before You Begin
Before your next practice, game, or tournament, check that the facility is safe for spectators. It includes the areas used for practice and competition and the benches, bleachers, restrooms, and other areas used by spectators. The safest practice areas must be free of any hazards that may cause injury to the participants or spectators. These areas must be free of holes, rough edges, dangerous boards, nails, glass pieces, and other hazards.
Be Cautious When Entering The Facility
The first thing that spectators notice is how the facility looks. Make sure that the place where practice or competition occurs is as safe as possible. Avoid areas that may look unsafe, such as dark corners or unkempt areas. If it is not safe to enter an area of the facility, it is not safe for the participants or spectators.
Know The Rules For The Use Of Equipment
To keep your facility safe for spectators, you must also keep participants safe. Equipment is a major source of injuries, and even small equipment may be dangerous. Use the right equipment for the right sport, and be cautious when using or modifying it.
Thoroughly Inspect Equipment Before Use
If you decide to use modified equipment, thoroughly inspect it. Ensure all the holes are properly drilled, and there are no sharp edges. Before a practice or competition begins, ensure the equipment has been cleared of all debris or other objects. And, as with all other items in your facility, equipment must also meet safety requirements. Make sure that the equipment is appropriate for the sport. For example, a baseball or softball field may not be suitable for a football game. Similarly, something other than a volleyball court may be suitable for basketball.
Install Safer Spectator Areas
The next step in making your facility safer for spectators is to provide a safer area for them to watch from. The safest place for spectators is on the sidelines of the playing field and must have safety sports nets. E.g., if you have a baseball field, ensure you install baseball netting to protect the spectators from the balls flying at high speed. But, again, you must be careful when implementing this. If spectators are in spectator areas that are not safe, they may get hurt too. You can use bleachers and other upright seating to create a safe and comfortable area. But make sure that the bleachers are properly maintained.
Provide Adequate Rest Stops For Spectators
It’s important to make sure that there are rest areas nearby. Rest locations should be marked, preferably with signs that contain information on the hazards and rules of safe use. Rest stops should be kept clean and dry. They should be kept from open areas where passing traffic may damage or destroy them. If they are not properly maintained, they may be hazardous to participants and spectators. They should be cleared of areas where debris, glass, or other potential hazards may be found. They should also be free of any objects that may be a trip hazard for participants or spectators.
The practice field is the place where sports come to life. Players can refine their skills with practice, and coaches can evaluate their players. However, these activities can also be dangerous if done incorrectly. The safest practice field is one that is free of any potential hazards. To keep your practice field safe, follow these guidelines. Even if you only use the field occasionally or have a small number of spectators at each event, these guidelines can benefit you. The more practice fields you inspect and the more rest stops and other areas you make safe, the less risk there will be of injury.