Position Statement in Respect of Our Responsibilities Under

Position Statement in Respect of Our Responsibilities Under


Position Statement in Respect of our Responsibilities under

Health & Safety Legislation including Associated Responsibilities.

The purpose of this document is to identify the club’s obligations and articulate our responses to those obligations.From scrutiny of the legislation the club believes that it needs to consider its responsibilities under the following;

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Manual Handling
  • Pitch and Equipment Maintenance
  • Safeguarding
  • Player Safety and Care
  • First Aid

Guidance from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

The information provided below comes from the HSE webpage “Amateur Sports Clubs, Guidance on Running a Safe Club”. (

To quote directly from this HSE webpage –

“Workplace health and safety law and how it applies to sports club organisers
Health and safety laws should not be a barrier to organising and running amateur sports activities that are an important part of community life.
Volunteers running sports clubs
Health and safety law does not generallyapply to volunteers running a club with no employees, unless the club has responsibility forpremises like a clubhouse or playing fields.

Anyone (including volunteers) with control of premises like a clubhouse or playing fields has a duty to see that the premises, access to them and plant ( e.g. sports equipment) and substances provided are safe for the persons using them so far as is reasonably practicable1. Often this is a shared duty between the premises owner, a management committee and users.

The extent of a club’s legal duty will depend on the level of control it has over the premises and the type of plant or substances provided. For example, if your club owns or manages the premises, then you would be expected to keep the premises and any sports equipment provided in good repair. If your club uses sports equipment then you would be expected to take reasonable steps to check it is safe to use e.g. check goal posts are secure before a game so they won’t collapse and injure a player.
The HSW Act and safety during the field of play
Health and safety law does not cover safety matters arising out of the sport or activity itself e.g. damaging a wrist during a boxing match or being injured following a bad tackle during football training. Note that a duty of care under the common (civil) law may apply.

Competitors/players taking part in competitions and/or training are generally subject to non-statutory rules set down by sports National Governing Bodies (NGBs). These rules will include topics like supervision (coaching staff to player ratios) and training, plus ‘in play’ emergency procedures and medical provision. Some of these rules and procedures may go beyond the requirements of workplace health and safety legislation. Most NGBs and networks are members of the Sport and Recreation Alliance [“ .”

1 Reasonably practicable: ‘This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble. However, you do not need to take action if it would be grossly disproportionate to the level of risk’

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Club Position - Cross referencing the clubs activities against the HSE documentation aboveleads us to the view that HSE legislation does not apply to PRFC because we do not have any employees nor do we have responsibility for any premises or playing fields. However in a desire to follow the spirit of the legislation PRFC does believe that it is appropriate to undertake a risk assessment for our Annual Beer Festival.

In respect of the Beer Festival the HSE directs us to a Cabinet Office “can do” guide “Community Events run by clubs who don’t have employees”. (
This document has 7 sections. Working through each one is a checklist of the legal and other issues that the organisation should go through, consider and address to have a safe and successful event. Having worked through this document we believe that we conform to all the elements and aspects covered within the 7 sections. We have generated a Risk Assessment in respect of the Annual Beer Festival.
Manual Handling
As PRFC does not own or control our own premises much in this area does not apply to the club. The only aspect of manual handling that is applicable is the safe movement of full beer kegs during the annual beer festival. This aspect is covered in the club’s risk assessment for the annual beer festival.

Pitch and Equipment Maintenance
Maintenance of the playing fields is the responsibility of Northumberland County Council via Active Northumberland. However there is a responsibility on the rugby club in relation to the maintenance of equipment such as tackle bags and post protectors. Whilst the club has no formal system for the examination of the condition of equipment or cyclic replacement scrutiny of our expenditure over the years evidences that damaged or worn out equipment is replaced in a timely manner.

Club Position -The club feels that our current approach is efficient and that there is no need to formalise this process.

An aspect that the rugby club does have responsibility for is whether a game or training session should be cancelled because of the state of the pitch. On the HSE website there is a section entitled “Mythbusters” where the HSE provides a mechanism to challenge advice or decisions, made in the name of health and safety that are believed to be disproportionate or inaccurate. Case 270 is a rugby club banned from playing at their own ground due to weather conditions. ( )

To quote directly from this HSE webpage –

A Rugby Club was recently banned from playing rugby at their own ground due to weather conditions, claiming it was muddy, could cause injury to players and health and safety rules.

Panel decision
Given that the rugby pitches in question had been subject to serious flooding, it was appropriate that a proper assessment should be undertaken before play resumed. The potential for flood water to have contaminated the ground is likely to have been a factor for consideration. Quoting bans and praying in aid non-specific health and safety rules in this type of case doesn’t help anyone – keen sportsmen and women deserve a proper explanation of what is preventing their matches from proceeding.”
From this it is clear that, in respect of the playability of pitches, the HSE does not expect a game to be cancelled “for Health and Safety” but that specific reasons are provided to support the decision. E.g. “the ground is waterlogged so scrummaging will be dangerous”, “the ground is frozen so players could be cut when landing on raised mud and the risk of players receiving a concussion injury is unacceptably high.”

Club Position - When making a decision that a game or training session can not take place because of the condition of the pitch we will always provide specific reasons for the decision.
PRFC has long established systems and procedures in respect of safeguarding that follow best practice. The club’s approach is documented in the document “Ponteland RFC Safeguarding Policy”, currently version 4, which is available to members via the club website. We have a Safeguarding Officer and an Assistant Safeguarding Officer who have both followed training for the role and subsequent update sessions.All coaches, helpers and the club’s Sports Therapists who regularly deliver or attend training sessions to U6 to U18 age groups undertake a Disclosure & Barring Service check. The club has a record of pursuing issues of a safeguarding nature that occur from time to time.
Club Position - The club feels that our current approach is effective and efficient and requires no additional documentation or systems.
Player Safety and Care
Player Safety and Care has no formal place under Health and Safety legislation however PRFC does have a responsibility in this area especially for youth, junior and mini players. PRFC has a number of established systems in place that evidence how the club meets its obligations in this area. The club ensures that all coaches are appropriately qualified for the age range that they coach. We ensure that there is an appropriate ratio of coaches to players. There are well established systems in place when planning and undertaking a tour which includes meeting Northumberland Rugby Union requirements. For the younger age groups we train indoors during January and February due to cold weather. Wind shelters have been purchased to keep younger age group teams warm whilst waiting to play at a tournament. The club has purchased tackle donuts to aid the safer introduction of players to tackling and the full contact game.
Club Position - The club feels that our current approach is effective, efficient with much being documented in the Club Development Plan and requires no additional documentation or systems.
First Aid
Ponteland RFC has a comprehensive approach to First Aid that states a qualified First Aider attend all training sessions and matches. The club’s approach to First Aid is documented in “First Aid Position Statement” which is accessibly to all club members via the club’s website. This document also provides a comprehensive approach to identifying and treating concussion including the RFU’s “stand-down guidance”. Our approach was only initiated from September 2015 so still needs embedding however it is being monitored by the Rugby Committee on a monthly basis.
Club Position - The club feels that our current approach is effective and efficient and requires no additional documentation or systems.

AdoptionThis document was discussed and adopted at the Club Committee Meeting held Tuesday 2nd February 2016.