What is health and safety?

Health and safety is about the hazards that exist in your usual club environment. Are there fire exits? Are there enough toilets and hand-washing facilities? Do you have a first aid kit and people trained in its use? What will you do in the event of an accident or civil defence emergency? Do you have contact numbers for your members’ next-of-kin to ensure they can be contacted in the case of an illness or injury?

However big or small, the club should have plans in place to deal with health and safety issues. How extensive these plans are will vary, depending on the size and structure of your club. But even if the club is small and uses a local community centre for its meetings, it’s still important that these issues are considered.

The club’s legal requirements change according to whether or not you employ paid staff. But, in short, club management and members should consider the following guidelines to ensure everyone remains healthy and safe while participating in club activities.

Developing a policy

Essentially, the club must comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2016. The Act aims to prevent harm to all people at work and to others who are in, or in the vicinity of, workplaces. This means that employers and others (you and the club) must maintain safe working environments and implement sound health and safety practices.

If the club does not employ anyone, but depends on a group of volunteers, it is still important that reasonable steps are taken to ensure the health and safety of members, participants and volunteers. WorkSafe may audit and assess your event, you are required to provide them the information they request if this happens. But they can’t enforce those recommendations unless you have paid employees.

An important way of ensuring your club is up to scratch with the Act is to develop a health and safety policy. This is your club’s statement on how it will ensure the health and safety of anyone involved in its activities. Appoint a health and safety coordinator to develop a policy for the club and ensure this is upheld. This includes hazard management, accident reporting, safety checklists, emergency procedures and accident reporting.

What to include in a health and safety policy

  • The purpose of the policy, for example, club members and officers need to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of everyone on the premises.
  • Procedures required to meet the policy - include a checklist or register for the coordinator to regularly use to check for hazards around the buildings/fields etc - checklist or register (DOC 34KB).
  • Ensure staff and volunteers know they must notify the coordinator of any hazards so action can be taken to minimise the risk of an injury occurring.
  • Outline ways to deal with hazards that can’t be managed immediately, for example, any hazards not dealt with straightaway must be noted and discussed at the next committee meeting.
  • Outline emergency evacuation procedures – what people should do in the event of an emergency such as a fire or earthquake (emergency procedures should be displayed prominently).
  • Outline an incident management procedure, for example, what to do in the event of an accident.