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Soft Surfaces

Legal Responsibility Maintaining & Testing Surfacing

All Weather Pitch Occupiers and Owners have a legal responsibility to make sure the artificial surfacing is fit for purpose and safe. As a duty of care if these standards are not met lawsuits can be raised for any players who get injured. This applies to all types of flooring on sports pitches from sand filled astroturf, sand dressed synthetic turf, 3G artificial grass, macadam MUGAs to polymeric tennis courts. Aswell as the sports pitches playgrounds are also obliged to keep regularly maintenance in making sure the surface is not slippery, vandalised or damaged.

What Should You Do?

Sports or Playground Maintenance should be carried out on a proactive regime and making sure the surfaces are always safe and have performances met. This maintenance needs to be logged for proof should any lawsuits be raised against you because of a personal injury claim. Also alongside the maintenance logs being kept upto date you need to be having testing carried out annually. The test reports are easy to understand and establishes your dedication to safer artificial surfacing showing you are trying everything possible to protect your players, children and kids.

Why Should You Do This?

‘Have you had an accident in the last two years?’ – does this saying ring a bell with you because lawyers have started to find out that 90% of all weather pitches in the UK are not maintained properly and very few have their surfaces tested regularly. If you haven’t had your pitch tested in the past 12 months or a maintenance log then what will be your defence in court against the solicitors? Here are reasons why having proactive testing and maintenance is crucial:

  • Annual testing demonstrates a serious and proactive commitment to safety
  • Fields rarely become unsafe overnight, so testing once a year should provide adequate warning of emerging safety issues
  • Reduce foreseeable risks to players, kids and children
  • Annual testing generates a meaningful historical record – a record that can be important if warranty or liability issues arise
  • Tests annually to the surfacing will protect your organization from potentially debilitating lawsuits
  • Testing once a year isn’t a “budget buster”

How Can You Be Convicted?

Being convicted in law is pretty simple in the fact that as part of your case it will obviously ask what precautions have you taken to make sure the surfaces are safe and fit for purpose and here is a few examples showing how the injuries could be prevented if proactive in your approach:

  • Field Hardness is caused when maintenance isn’t carried out where the infill compacts. Energy is created when a player falls which is partly absorbed by the player and field surface. A harder compacted surface causes the player to absorb a greater force and therefore greater risk of broken bones and injury.
  • Trip hazards on the surfacing from joints, seams or damaged areas needs repairing because if failed upon testing can create the occupier to be held responsible for injuries and falls.
  • Slippery surfaces is very common through moss growth and regular cleaning, maintenance is needed to make sure the tests meet the correct skid resistance because should players slip and cause soft tissue damage again the occupier can be held responsible.

What are the Solutions?

The only solution you have is basically making sure as a duty of care you are taking all measures to make sure the surfacing is not unsafe. Maintenance and testing should be carried out and keeping logs of these is paramount to protect your company, educational sector or sports club from court cases.

If you would like further details on getting your surfacing tested please email sports@softsurfaces.co.uk and we will arrange to set up an independent testing company to carry out a report and from this report you can see what maintenance or works might need to be carried out if any. Should the test pass then your ongoing maintenance is working well and there is no need to change any of your contracts and this gives you a historical record which could be important for future references but should the test fail it will give you the opportunity to try and resolve the issues before an accident happens and leaves yourself liable.

 

Just remember ‘Where there’s a blame there’s a claim’ so make sure it’s not yourself that is to blame!

About the author

Director at Soft Surfaces Ltd which constructs artificial sports pitches and play areas throughout the UK. Sports enthusiast who plays football regularly and co-founder of @FatRank which helps others with SEO, PPC, WordPress and Specialist Web Marketing.

James Dooley – who has written posts on Sports and Safety Surfaces.



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