Archive for the ‘Day Camps’ Category

Zip Line Safety

Lowering the risk of aerial adventures

What was once a means to access forest canopies for ecological research is now a rapidly growing adventure experience offered in many forests, amusement parks and ski resorts across the country. Many forest zip line tours continue to encourage ecology awareness and appreciation, while others are primarily promoting them as an aerial adventure to thrill-seeking tourists.

An estimated 18 million people fly via zip lines each year making it one of the fastest growing commercial adventures, according to the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT). But along with the excitement and thrills comes the risk of serious injuries if safety precautions aren’t taken and equipment isn’t properly maintained.

A typical zip line course consists of cables traversing and crossing a route that slopes downward across a forest, canyon, body of water, valley, or ravine. Access to the zip line is usually via ground-level platforms, stairways, or ladders. Participants are protected from falls with harnesses, lanyards,and clips ,and are often required to wear helmets. Speed and braking are controlled either by a guide, gravity or the participant.

The risk of injury to zip line riders is high, which is why the ACCT and ASTM are currently developing Zip line risk managementcommercial zip line safety standards. Only Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia currently have zip line regulations.

A common injury suffered by zip liners is bone fractures, which are usually caused by participants falling from the access platform or slamming into the end station. However, much more severe injuries can and do occur. The best protection is in proper management by owners/operators:

  • Design and construction: The zip line supports should be set in concrete for optimal bracing. The cable arc’s lowest point should be high enough to prevent riders from crashing into the final post. Rollers guards should be installed to prevent hand injuries. The starting platform should be protected and customers tethered while on the platform.
  • Maintenance: Regular inspections should be conducted and documented. Daily inspections should made of all starting platforms, riding seats/handles and safety harnesses. Cable tension should be monitored and adjusted as needed.  Harness and brake padding should not show signs of wear and tear. Cables should be replaced per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Supervision: Participants should take a trainer-led safety course prior to take-off and be monitored by trained staff at all times. An employee should be present at both ends of the course. Zip line guides and operators should be fully trained to screen clients, fit and inspect equipment, inspect and maintain the course,and  rescue clients and evacuate the course. Zip line employees should  also be CPR certified and trained in first aid. Minimum age and size requirements should be posted and no one not meeting the posted limits should be permitted to ride.

If you have questions or would like information on insuring your zip line, call Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance at (800) 622-7370.

Source: Lothian Law, 27 May 2014


The Gamble of Being Underinsured

The risks can be catastrophic

Gambling diceBeing underinsured is just as big a mistake as being uninsured. It’s no secret that insurance is one of those necessary purchases that buyers resent. But it’s also no secret that purchasing the correct coverage has protected countless people and organizations from potentially catastrophic financial circumstances.

Sports organizations are often run by volunteers who aren’t aware of the potential risks to which their league and players are exposed. This often results in lack of coverage – for all the wrong reasons. Thinking ahead is your insurance agent’s job. He or she has seen it all and knows anything can happen to anyone at any time.

What’s behind the lack of insurance?

Many sports administrators mistakenly believe that they don’t need to buy Accident and General Liability insurance to cover their sports programs for various reasons. After more than 25 years in the sports insurance industry, I’ve heard every excuse in the world for such decisions. Here are the top four:

  •  “Our waiver/release forms will prevent lawsuits.” The use of a well-drafted waiver/release form is a great tool under some circumstances. However, it won’t prevent a lawsuit from being filed. Even if the waiver/release does result in the lawsuit eventually being dismissed, it may still cost $10,000 to $20,000 in legal defense fees to get to that point.
  •  “Volunteer immunity statutes will prevent lawsuits.” State and federal volunteer immunity statutes are a positive step in the right direction. However, they typically have too many loopholes and exceptions that limit their effectiveness. For example, most immunity statutes exempt protection in the event of grossly negligent behavior, willful or wanton conduct, or the reckless disregard for the safety of others. Most lawsuits make these allegations and the judge has to sort out if they have any merit. All this takes time, and the more time it takes to sort this out, the greater the legal fees. In addition, these statutes don’t protect paid staff and the sports organization as an entity itself.
  •  “Our employees/volunteers/administrators provide their own liability policies.” Many sports organizations will leave it up to the individual volunteers or administrators to protect themselves through Homeowner’s Liability, Personal Umbrella, or Coach Certification Liability policies. This can be a dangerous strategy for many reasons. Homeowner’s Liability and Personal Umbrella policies may include an exclusion for lawsuits arising out of activities of the insured person as a sports volunteer. Furthermore, they won’t protect against the non-bodily injury or non-property damage lawsuits that a Directors & Officers policy may protect against such as discrimination, wrongful termination, failure to follow own rules or bylaws, etc.

The insurance policies sports organizations need

Below is a list of the most important insurance policies that most community-based sports organizations such as teams, leagues, and municipal recreation departments should carry.

  • Accident insurance pays medical bills on behalf of injured participants.
  • General Liability responds to lawsuits arising from bodily injury, property damage, and personal/advertising injury.
  • Directors & Officers Liability (or Trustees Errors & Omissions for municipal recreation departments) responds to certain lawsuits not covered by General Liability, such as discrimination, wrongful suspension or termination, failure to follow your own rules/bylaws, and violation of rights of others under state, federal, or constitutional law.
  • Property/Equipment insurance covers buildings, contents and equipment against loss due to fire, vandalism, theft, etc.
  • Crime insurance covers employee or volunteer embezzlement of funds or theft of property; forgery or alteration of checks by outsiders, and theft of money and securities by outsiders.
  • Workers’ Compensation may be required by state law for organizations with three or more employees. It pays benefits to injured workers for on-the-job injuries including medical bills, lost wages, disability lump sums, disfigurement lump sums, and death benefits.
  • Business Auto insurance covers liability and physical damage to owned, non-owned, and hired autos.

There are other types of policies that some organizations may require. For much more detailed information on this topic, please see 7 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Sports Insurance.

For assistance in determining which policies your organization needs, to have your questions answered, or to receive a quote, please call us at (800) 622-7370.


A Reality Check for Youth Sports Administrators

Learn from the Paterno, Spanier, Curley and McQuery mistakes

This blog post isn’t specifically about the Penn State case and who was or wasn’t fired. Rather it’s a reality check for all involved with youth: no one is invincible. Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Mike McQuery did not commit the physical crimes against children that Jerry Sandusky did.  However, they were responsible and liable for their own actions when there is even a hint that someone is abusing a child.

The Penn State case is making national headlines because of its legendary coach and its football program, but it’s important to understand that such behavior occurs frequently in youth sports.  Most readers of this blog are involved in teams/leagues/youth programs in sYouth sports risk managementome capacity or another. Are you a coach, athletic director, team mom or a parent on the sidelines?  Whatever your position, today is the day to step back and realize where exactly you fit into the lives of the kids participating in your youth sports organization.  You are there to protect them at all costs.

Our previous blog post, Child Predators in Youth Sports, is a must read for anyone who is involved with children. It includes a link to a Sports Illustrated article written with the help of actual predators in youth programs detailing how they got away with their crimes. Did you know that, according to the article, studies have found that the average molester victimizes about 120 children before he is caught? That’s extremely disturbing! The blog post also offers useful risk management guidelines that your organization can implement today. And share this post with others so that we all can make a difference.

Follow this link for more articles on preventing sexual abuse and molestation.