Minimising Risk in Corporate Sporting Activities
Nobody wants to be a killjoy: who can blame employers for wanting to harness the Olympic spirit to get their workforce going? Most HR professionals will agree that it is important to have extra-curricular activities that give employees an opportunity to bond with each other over something other than a deadline. The key to organising any such events is to think about minimising risk early in the planning phase.
Before you embark on scheduling for your organisations own "mini-Olympics" in the lead-up to London 2012, you should address the following issues in the planning stages:
● Is the location that the event will be held in appropriate and safe? For example, are the surfaces appropriate for running/jumping, not too slippery etc? Where possible, it is preferable to hold sporting events at a purpose-built location operated by a third party with expertise in running the venue, for example a sporting park or indoor sports centre.
● Will there be adequately trained personnel available to assist on the day? For example, will there be experienced people able to give instruction as to how the activities should be safely performed? Will there be trained first-aid personnel present?
● Will the activities themselves be appropriate for non-professional athletes? Do the activities involve high-risks of injury for persons who do not regularly engage in sport? (NB: Coal-walking, fencing and Greco-Roman wrestling are high risk for any level of athlete!)
● Have you taken into account individual risk factors in vetting participants? For example, it may not be advisable to allow employees with known health problems to participate in certain events, or at least without medical clearance. Catering for individuals within teams (where such events are generally intended to be team-building) may also impact on the activities chosen.
Finally, we suggest that you pay your respects to the 'Olympic Spirit', best equated with the likes of Eric Moussambani and the statement that "The important thing is not to win, but to take part". Whilst not strictly legal advice, this philosophy is sure to foster less drama and more calm in any work-affiliated sporting pursuits.