Vol. 1, 2018
Many of the gymnastic claims Markel receives result from the lack of proper supervision. Some experts will argue that a large percentage of athletic injuries result from a lapse in direct or indirect supervision. Supervision is more than just overseeing participants’ activities. As outlined by Successful Coaching, Third Edition, there are nine legal duties a coach is responsible for performing:
We also see many claims involving coaches who don’t match the student’s level of experience with the task or exercise. Although programs differ, the activities associated with supervising them are very similar.
Along with the responsibilities above there are additional areas of supervision a gymnastics environment requires. According to the Gymnastics Risk Management Safety Course Handbook, these areas of supervision include:
As you engage in supervisory activities, or assign supervisory tasks to someone else, it’s important to set a high standard of professionalism and accountability to make them effective. Don’t place inexperienced and unskilled supervisors in situations beyond their abilities. (In the event of a lawsuit, plaintiff’s counsel will closely scrutinize this aspect.) Match different teaching styles with different learning and training situations.
It is good practice to check all safety equipment before and after each use to ensure that it’s in proper working condition. Replace or repair it immediately if any problems are noted. Some other things to consider:
Kids grow quickly and at different rates, so it’s important for parents and coaches to monitor protective gear regularly. Depending on the activity, gear can include special gymnastics or athletic shoes; handgrips; sweat bands; wrist, ankle, or torso belts; and knee, elbow, and heel pads.
One way to get parents and kids interested in equipment safety is to host a sports clinic. Have a professional coaching group talk about the inherent risks of sports participation, proper technique, rules, safety equipment, nutrition, drug and alcohol abuse, sportsmanship, and having fun. If possible, have parent(s) participate. Ask parent(s) to sign a Certificate of Attendance -- this document is extremely helpful in the event of a claim or lawsuit.
Periodic checks with the Consumer Product Safety Commission will alert you to product recalls and provide additional safety tips. Check their web site at cpsc.gov or call their hotline at 800-638-2772.
In the event your club is faced with an accident that results in a claim being filed against your insurance, how well you document events is critical in helping a claims manager address liability issues.
In Herb Appenzeller’s book, Risk Management in Sport – Issues and Strategies, Second Edition, the following several key points address the sports facility risk management documentation process:
Come visit us at the Markel booth to talk to us about your gymnastics insurance needs and to register to win a $100 gift card to the USAG store.
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.