Sunday, June 13, 2010

Organising events with risks

There is a concern across companies and the wider community that health and safety is stopping people from doing things that are worthwhile because there may be a risk. A short article in Tips and Advice Health and Safety provides a useful summary of the issues.

The article points out that the tabloid press gives the impression that every type of outdoor event has been banned. However, the HSE and other safety bodies are trying to say this is not the case. The problem is that people are not sure what would happen if someone did get hurt and the organisers ended up in court.

A case was heard in the high court earlier in 2010 regarding the case of Robert Uren who was paralysed when he hit his head on the bottom of a pool whilst taking part in an "it's a knock-out" type of event organised for the RAF. In this case the judge concluded that the organisers were not at fault, recognising that the fun of the game included a degree of physical challenge. He said "a balance has to be struck between the level of risk involved and the benefits the activity confers on the participants."

The article suggests that participation in any potentially dangerous event should be voluntary and that they should be well informed of the hazards and that they need to take responsibility for deciding if they suitably fit and prepared to take part. Using experienced organisers is probably a good idea, but it is still important to make sure they have a good understanding of the risks and hold the appropriate insurance.

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