Safety Practices of Sporting Clubs and Centres in the City of Hume
Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #95 - 1996
Author: C. Finch
Full report in .pdf format [115KB]
Sports injuries are a public health problem in Victoria. However, little information is available about community level sports injuries. The sports safety activities that community level sports organise, undertake or provide for is also not fully known. The aim of this report is to present the results of a survey of local clubs and sporting centres in the City of Hume conducted by the 'Play It Safe, Sport' project, before its sport safety promotional activities. This is the first survey of safety practices of sporting clubs and centres at the community level in Victoria. Sixty-four clubs and centres participated in the survey which involved face-to-face interviews with representatives from the participating clubs and sporting centres. A major finding is that whilst sports bodies perform certain activities typically associated with preventing sports injuries, they do not have formal policies or written objectives which recognise the safety of their participants as an important goal. A number of sports safety measures were reported to be undertaken by the surveyed clubs and centres including, use of protective equipment, accredited coaches, sports trainers, encouraging warm-ups, modified rules for juniors and checking of playing environmental hazards and facilities. The provision of first aid services (including personnel and equipment) varied across the sporting clubs and centres. The survey found that local clubs would benefit from the Hume City Council's Safe Living Program assistance in developing a simple sports safety program and in improving playing facilities and their surrounds. The major barriers towards improving sports safety were: a lack of funds, the media's attitude towards sports injuries and the role of local council. This survey has provided useful information for Hume City Council to guide its 'Play It Safe, Sport' program over the next 12 months. The findings clearly indicate the areas where more attention to sports safety needs to be undertaken by local sporting clubs and centres. The survey also provides some useful baseline data from which the success of the 'Play It Safe, Sport' program could be evaluated in the future.
Sports and recreational injuries are a significant public health problem in Victoria. However, there is little information available about the occurrence of sports injuries at the community level. Sports injuries have a significant impact on participants across the broad range of sports activities. Many sporting organisations (including local clubs and associations) and administrators are concerned with preventing injuries amongst their participants. However, the full range of injury prevention activities they organise, undertake or provide for is not fully known. This is particularly so for community level sport.
The aim of this report is to present the results from a survey of local clubs and sporting centres in the City of Hume. The City of Hume is a well-defined geographic area, representing both urban and semi-rural communities. The City of Hume's Safe Living Program is a multifaceted injury prevention program targeted specifically at the community level. The 'Play It Safe, Sport' project is under the umbrella of the Safe Living Program. The 'Play It Safe, Sport' project aims to change the culture of local sporting organisations to systematically work to reduce sports injuries.
In 1995/96, the 'Play It Safe, Sport' project undertook a survey of sporting clubs and centres in the City of Hume. This survey covered a wide range of sporting activities undertaken in the City of Hume and aimed to collect information about the current safety practices of sports clubs and associations in the City of Hume. The survey was conducted in late 1995 - early 1996, before the 'Play It Safe, Sport' project began its sport safety promotional activities.
Sixty-four clubs and centres participated in the survey and their responses to the survey questionnaire are presented in this report. The main target group for this survey was all clubs involved with the five sports most frequently associated with sports injury in the Victorian Injury Surveillance System database (Australian Rules Football, Cricket, Soccer, Netball and Basketball). Fifty clubs or centres in the City of Hume were involved with these five sports. Each of these fifty clubs or centres agreed to participate in the survey. In addition to this set of fifty clubs, some other clubs were approached on the basis of having high participation numbers. Fourteen such clubs participated in the survey and they covered sports such as tennis, bowls, horse riding, fishing, little athletic, rugby and gridiron. The survey involved face-to-face interviews with administrators or other personnel, as appropriate, from the participating clubs and sporting centres.
This report presents the findings of the first survey of the safety practices of sporting clubs and centres at the community level in Victoria. As such it characterises current practices and has identified areas for improvement. A major finding of this survey is that whilst sporting clubs and centres perform (or encourage their participants to perform) certain activities typically associated with preventing sports injuries, they do not have formal policies or written objectives which recognise the health and safety of their participants as an important goal. This suggests that sports safety may not get the priority attention that it should.
A range of protective equipment is used at the surveyed sporting clubs and centres. Potential barriers to protective equipment use were identified and clubs reported that it needed to be lighter, more attractive, of higher quality and cheaper. A number of other sports safety measures are also undertaken by the surveyed clubs and centres. More than half participated in the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme where the coaches receive specific training in injury prevention techniques. Warming up appears to be widely promoted at the surveyed clubs or centres, with many providing an area specifically for this. In contrast, warming-down activities do not seem to be so widely promoted. Modified rules for juniors are promoted by more than half of the clubs and centres.
Whilst adequate first aid services themselves do not prevent sports injuries, they are crucial for helping to reduce the severity of any injuries that do occur and for providing immediate attention to them. This survey found that the provision of first aid services (including personnel and equipment) seems to vary considerably across the sporting clubs and centres. Whilst some provided a first aid kit, it was not always the case that the clubs or centres ensured that someone with first aid training was available to provide first aid services if they were needed. Ensuring that each club or centre has a number of qualified sports trainers would be an obvious way to overcome this current deficiency.
Checking of playing environmental hazards and facilities appears to be a high priority for clubs and centres. Nevertheless, a majority of clubs or centres felt that there was scope for significant safety improvement in their playing surrounds and facilities. Many believed that the Hume City Council could play a key role in these improvements. The survey respondents also believed that they would benefit from the Hume City Council's Safe Living Program assistance in developing a simple sports safety program. This is something that the 'Play It Safe, Sport' project should address over its 12 month's duration.
A number of clubs and centres reported barriers towards improving safety. A lack of funds was the most commonly cited barrier. Hume City Council's Safe Living Program should be able to inform its local clubs and centres of ways in which they could attempt to seek funding for safety improvements. Another common barrier was the media's attitude towards sports injuries. The Hume City Council should therefore continue its presence in local media (eg newspapers, its newsletter, etc) and continue to actively promote safety in sport through its local networks.
The role of local Council, itself, in improving sports safety was raised by a number of clubs and centres. They felt that Council should provide better access to facilities within the area and act on unsafe playing conditions immediately. The comments provided by some of the sporting clubs and centres demonstrate that Hume City Council is already doing significant work towards improving sports safety.
This survey has provided useful information for Hume City Council to guide its 'Play It Safe, Sport' program. The findings clearly indicate the areas where more attention to sports safety needs to be undertaken by local sporting clubs and centres. It also indicates where the Safe Living Program's assistance could be most valuable. Over the 12 month period following this survey, the 'Play It Safe, Sport' project will be targeting sports safety in the City of Hume. This survey provides valuable baseline data against which the activities of this project can be measured at the end of the year's activities. The survey results also provide some useful baseline data from which the success of the 'Play It Safe, Sport' program could be evaluated in the future.
Sponsor: Safe Living Program, City of Hume