Risk Management Planning

Operating multi-site Camps

October 18, 2015

The need for consistency

Jeff C. Heiser
Senior Assistant Director, Recreation
UC Davis

Operating youth camps on campus comes with a number of risk management concerns. There are numerous considerations to address prior to bringing youth on campus including staff recruitment and training, emergency response procedures, facility management, and program quality and routines. These issues are multiplied if you are considering running youth camps at multiple sites across campus or at off-campus sites. While this would allow you to diversify your program offerings and serve more participants, you have the additional responsibility of ensuring that all program sites are up to the same standard of operation. To ensure that the quality of your program is of the highest level, conduct some initial research and assessment, regardless of the location of your program. Read more

Camp Programming and Risk Management

October 18, 2015

Having Fun is Being Safe

Zach Wood
School of Kinesiology
Louisiana State University

Matthew Boyer
Assistant Director, Sport & Camp Programs
LSU University Recreation (UREC)
Louisiana State University


Managing a camp is an intensive and highly nuanced experience that requires a great deal of careful planning and preparation. Ultimately, your goal is to keep campers engaged and safe for the duration of their time with you. With that in mind, everything you do in camp management has a risk management component. In this article, we will discuss some methods and strategies to assist in the preparation of your camp.
• Section One revolves around the development of a strong theoretical foundation for your camp, including the development of philosophy, mission, and values, and will also discuss methods for developing and training staff to best uphold these foundational elements.
• Section Two gives an overview of programming and activity development ideas and reviews the importance of schedule templates.
• Section Three discusses the necessity of external research and becoming comfortable with state, local, and university standards on childcare.
• Section Four illustrates principles of the shared responsibilities of risk management, including the crucial component of transparency and interaction with parents. Read more

Residual Risk

October 18, 2015

How much is too much?

Ian McGregor, Ph.D.
President, SportRisk

In Part I of this two-part series on Risk Profile the concepts of ‘Risk Matrix’ and ‘Risk Profile’ were introduced.

Using the Risk Matrix approach provides a ‘gut level’ assessment of the amount of risk attached to an activity (the qualitative approach), while the Risk Profile process provides a measurable numerical value of the actual risk level (the quantitative approach).

In many situations, the Risk Matrix’s red/amber/grey/green approach is sufficient, and can be particularly useful in assessing a new and immediate potential danger or crisis. For example, if an incident occurs during an Intramural game, it can be useful to have staff ask themselves ‘is this a potential red zone situation?’ If the answer is yes, then it is a call to immediate action.

However, from a risk management planning perspective, the Risk Profile approach has some distinct advantages in that it provides staff with a really good handle on just how ‘big’ the risk of an activity or facility is. While assigning P (probability) and S (severity) values to activities can be somewhat subjective, it is an observed fact that consensus among staff is surprisingly easy to achieve when developing risk profiles for different activities. Read more

Negligence Simplified

March 10, 2015

10. Standard of Care in Recreation

Determining the standard of care is industry specific.  So what does it look like in Recreation?

In keeping with the overall theme of this blog, ‘keep it simple’, I’ve distilled the issues down to the ‘5 Key Risk Areas’:

Supervision & Instruction
Facilities & Equipment
Emergency Response

In this blog we’ll explore ‘Supervision & Instruction’

As somewhat of a disclaimer – remember the title of the blog (Negligence Simplified)! Thus the focus here is on the KEY issues, and not all the issues!

Key Issues in Supervision & Instruction:
1. Quality of supervision
In short: Hire qualified supervisors/ instructors
2. Quantity of supervision
In short: Establish reasonable supervision ratios that are based on activity type, space size, activity risk level, age and number of participants.
3. Lesson plans and progressions
In short: If you are offering higher risk programs which involve instruction, instructors should follow lesson plans (or standard protocols) which document progressive instruction.

In the next blog, we’ll look at the Key Issues in Training.

To follow the blog from the start, go to www.sportrisk.com/blog/

Negligence Simplified

February 16, 2015

9. Standard of Care

Determining the ‘Standard of Care’ in a court of law is the trickiest part of the whole proceedings.

Essentially, what the court is trying to do is draw a line representing the standard. Once the line is drawn, the court will then determine if the defendant’s behavior is above the line (hence no negligence), or below the line (hence negligence).

What is the standard of care in the Recreation setting – and how is it determined?

The courts will generally focus on 3 key issues:

  1. Case Law
  2. Published Standards
  3. Industry Practices

Case Law
Lawyers on both side will research similar court cases and (if it advantageous for their client), argue that the case is essentially identical to a previous case.  If the judge agrees, then (s)he is required to follow the precedent set by the ruling. (Note that cases are generally too unique for this argument to gain traction).

Published Standards
The obvious place to start is to determine if there are published standards out there that relate to the situation in hand.  For example, in a pool drowning situation, the court would review relevant standards governing pool operations.

The difficulty is that there are not a lot of published standards out there to refer to (the pool being one of the exceptions).

So the courts will generally have to rely on:

Industry Practices
What are the current industry practices?  Hence for a Climbing Wall accident, what are the current practices for institutions operating climbing walls?  The focus needs to be narrowed further.  So for a post secondary institution operating a climbing wall with a student population of 20K, the courts will try to focus on post secondary institutions of the same size (and in the same state/province if possible).  While other climbing wall operations may also be reviewed (e.g. privately operated walls), the key comparison will be between like industries.  (A great example of this is supervision of pools:  the supervision standard is totally different for hotel pools relative to almost any other pool situation).

The courts will obviously need to look at the operating practices at a number of similar industries in order to determine where the line needs to be drawn i.e. what the current ‘standard’ is.

In the next blog in this series, we’ll look at what the ‘Standard of Care’ looks like for professionals working in the Sport, Recreation and Leisure fields.

To follow the blog from the start – go to www.sportrisk.com/blog

Negligence Simplified

February 10, 2015

8. Proximate Cause

The 4th and final step in determining if there has been negligence is to answer the question – was the defendant’s behaviour the proximate cause of the the plaintiff’s damage?   In other words, did the defendant’s actions (or inactions) directly lead to the damage or injury?

In many situations this might appear to be obvious.  For example, if someone drowns while a lifeguard is inattentive or absent, then the conclusion might be that the lifeguard’s behaviour directly led to the drowning i.e. there is proximate cause.

However, this may not be the whole story.  Another way of looking at it is to ask the question:  if the plaintiff had acted differently, would the outcome still have been the same?  For example, if the plaintiff had been cautioned earlier for running on the pool deck, then the defendant’s lawyers might argue that the plaintiff slipped and fell into the pool as a result of running on the deck. Hence the argument would be that the lifeguard’s behaviour was not the direct cause of the damage, rather the result of the plaintiff’s own actions.  We’ll revisit this possibility later under ‘contributory negligence’.

In the next blog, we’ll return to ‘Standard of Care’ since this is the key issue focused on by the courts.  What is the standard, and how is it determined?

To follow the blog from the start – go to www.sportrisk.com/blog

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