The policies and practices of sports governing bodies in relation to assessing the safety of sports grounds

J Sci Med Sport. 2009 Jan;12(1):171-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2007.12.004. Epub 2008 Mar 20.


Sport is an important context for physical activity and it is critical that safe environments are provided for such activity. Sports safety is influenced by the presence of sports ground environmental hazards such as ground hardness, poorly maintained playing fields, surface irregularities and the presence of debris/rubbish. To reduce injury risk, sports governing bodies need to ensure regular assessment of grounds safety and the removal of identified hazards. This study describes sports ground safety guidelines and recommendations of a sample of sports governing bodies and provides recommendations for how they could be improved. Semi-structured key informant interviews were conducted with nominees of state governing bodies for Australian football, cricket, soccer and hockey. The use of matchday checklists to identify ground hazards, as mandated by insurance companies was widely promoted across all levels of play. Sports governing bodies had more direct involvement in assessing grounds used for higher level of play, than grounds used for community or junior sport. There was a general presumption that identified hazards on community grounds would be corrected by local councils or clubs before anyone played on them, but this was rarely monitored. Sports governing bodies run the risk of being negligent in their duty of care to sports participants if they do not formally monitor the implementation of their ground safety polices and guidelines. There is also further scope for sports bodies to work closely with insurers to develop ground safety assessment guidelines specific to their sport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Australia
  • Consumer Organizations
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Public Policy
  • Risk Assessment
  • Safety Management / methods*
  • Safety Management / organization & administration
  • Sports*