Club Development Resources
Managing Risk in Your Club
Community and recreational groups, such as sailing clubs, need to be aware of risk and potential injury or harm to people. Although there are some legislative requirements in this respect, having a risk awareness and risk management plan is best practise and common sense for all clubs.
In general, the main risks that clubs need to be aware of are risks associated with harm or injury to people and property. Under the law, clubs have a duty of care to:
(a) Their members
(d) Coaches, instructors, officials
(f) The general public
This duty of care extends from not just the club and its surrounds but also the operations of the club. For example, a sailing event on the water.
Best practise risk management involves developing a Risk Management Plan. A Risk Management Plan covers, amongst other things, the following:
(a) Identification of threats and risks; and,
(b) Mitigation and management of the risks.
Management of the risks typically involves a multi-faceted approach. These facets should include some or all of the following.
Under the NSW Civil Liabilities Act (2002) (CLA), if you provide a reasonable risk warning, you may not be liable for harm that befalls someone. However, this is not a “get out of gaol free card”. The warnings must be reasonable and must identify the general nature of the risks. In some cases, a warning may not protect you.
Positive Mitigation Action
Sounds fancy but this is nothing more than regular checks and maintenance of equipment and infrastructure. However, this is more than the retired gent who “looks after the ribs”. This must be, at least, a regular inspection against a documented check list. These checklists must be kept as evidence that the inspections were carried out. Sport Clubs have an additional requirement here. This includes making sure (in as much as this is reasonably possible) that the sporting fields are safe. From our perspective, ignoring the obvious inherent risks of water sports, this would include making sure that the race management team is aware of things like commercial shipping movements, and, either communicating same to the participants or setting courses appropriately.
Included here are thing like First Aid kits and trained people who know how to use them. Evacuation diagrams prominently displayed. CPR posters prominently displayed. Emergency numbers prominently displayed.
This includes a plan should something happen. Typically there is an “incident response team”, which might be no more than one or two people who know exactly what to do when something bad happens. The team “takes over” and manages the incident to conclusion. This might be something as simple as a minor injury to someone through to a major disaster. Regardless, the team must know what to do, who to call etc. When the incident is over, they must record the details.
Every club member needs to know that the club has a Risk Management Plan. The Plan should be readily available to all members, preferably on a website. In addition, all volunteers should undertake some sort of induction training. This does not need to be onerous. It can be another trained member walking through the club and the grounds with the new volunteer showing them where everything is.
This is basically the final backup plan. When all else fails and a problem arises, it will be the insurance company who helps you out. The most important action a club can take is to contact their insurance broker and invite them to a club meeting to discuss risk management and what the insurer requires.
Over the next few months YNSW will be providing assistance to clubs to help them develop Risk Management Plans. YA, YNSW and the other states are currently collaborating on a number of initiatives in this area.