Ensuring Safety Standards Are Met In Stadiums
Thu 13th Oct 2016 | Football Stadiums & Facilities
At any sporting event, safety should be paramount. Ensuring the safety of spectators as far as possible should be a basic minimum requirement for any football club.
These days, British football stadia are among the safest in the world. The disasters that occurred at Bradford City’s Valley Parade in 1986 and Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough in 1989 served as a tragic lesson about the need to improve safety at stadiums in the UK; thankfully, that lesson was acted upon.
Today, most British football stadia are all seated with no pitch perimeter fences. This means that dangerous overcrowding and crushes are avoided. Thorough modernisation and risk management, along with the ban on smoking, has likewise greatly reduced the risk of fire taking hold. Violence among spectators has also decreased massively since the dark days of the 1980s, and attending a football match is now rightly seen as a safe activity suitable for all the family.
Football clubs are legally required to minimise the risk of injury to spectators by meeting specified safety standards. If an accident occurs due to the club failing to meet these standards then the victim will be entitled to take legal action using the services of an injury claims lawyer. The resulting lawsuit could cost the club thousands of pounds, or even more.
It is of course hugely important that the club should not exceed its stated capacity. Large football crowds need to be carefully controlled and managed, and all staff should be thoroughly trained in how to avoid incident and also be aware of how to act if one should occur. Crowd control does not mean heavy-handed stewarding, which can be counterproductive. Entrances and exits should be kept clear and flashpoints where congestion can occur should be identified and monitored.
Sufficient security also needs to be on hand, and adequately trained, in order to nullify and contain violence, and anti-social or dangerous behaviour.
Keeping the venue in good repair is crucial to maintaining safety standards. Faulty seating, loose railings, cracked floors and so on can all lead to injury and ultimately the club would be considered liable if they had not adequately maintained their facilities. Constant upkeep is required in bathrooms and areas open to the elements to prevent slippery floors. Car parks should also be stewarded to prevent accidents.
A thorough risk management plan should be in place at the beginning of every season, and this needs to be regularly reviewed. This means identifying the risks, reducing them as far as possible, and having a thorough action plan for a number of eventualities.
These should cover relatively commonplace incidents such as a fight breaking out or dangerous congestion, but should also include planned responses to major events like a terrorist attack or an accident caused by outside elements like a plane crash or factory explosion.
Safety on and off the pitch is the first responsibility of all professional football clubs. Exercising due diligence and planning is the key to meeting the required standards. Failing to meet these standards leaves clubs open to legal action, and worse, the risk of serious injury or loss of life among fans there to enjoy a great sporting experience.
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