Archive for the ‘Injury’ Category

Risks of Tents, Canopies and Umbrellas at Events

Collapsing and fly-away shelters can cause bodily injury and property damage

Tents, canopies and umbrellas are popular shelters and sun shades at sidewalk sales, farmers’ markets, craft fairs, cookouts and sporting events. Unfortunately, it’s all too common to see such equipment inadequately secured. The risk of injuries is great, and property damage can also result when these shelter frames buckle and collapse or they go flying in a gusty wind.

In July 2018, umbrellas sent flying by wind gusts impaled people at Maryland and New Jersey beaches. A number of our sports insurance clients experienced similar mishaps with canopies that blew into spectators and resulted in significant injuries.  

As a matter of fact, one of them recently shared what happened at their youth soccer event:

Opening ceremonies were taking place at the local YMCA on a clear and cloudless morning. Suddenly,  a tornado-like wind burst on the scene. An unstaked canopy went rolling in the air, the legs hitting both a small boy and a woman in their heads. The woman required major surgery on her crushed forehead and she sued the YMCA. The YMCA in turn sued our client because he supplied the canopy. The YMCA did not have secondary insurance covering injured players and participants. Following this tragic event, this soccer league took no more chances. It banned canopies and tents at their games and events, and only allowed hand-held umbrellas.

Best risk management practices for canopies, awnings, tents and umbrellas

Make sure that the people erecting and taking down canopies are not distracted. A poorly-secured canopy is as dangerous as an unsecured canopy.  

Canopy weights should be attached to canopies at all times. Weights should be secured in such a way as to not create a separate safety hazard:

  •      Anchoring weights should not cause a tripping hazard
  •      Ensure weights are attached securely and tethering lines clearly visible
  •      Weights should not have sharp edges that could cut people passing by
  •      Anchor the weights should be on the ground; never hang them overhead

Sufficient weight is at least 24 lbs. per leg. One canopy manufacturer recommends a minimum of 40 lbs. on each corner of a 10’x10’ tent; double that on a 10’x20’ tent. Umbrellas should be anchored by a 50 lb. weight.

Even properly-secured canopies can be precarious in inclement weather. Determine if weather dictates that canopies should be taken down during an event. If so, direct bystanders to stay clear in order to prevent injuries.

Proper canopy anchors

  • Fill 2.5 gallon buckets with cement and tie one to each canopy corner  with a rope or bungee. Do  not place the buckets on the feet of the canopy.
  • Purchase vertical sandbag weights specially designed to be strapped to the canopy legs. Make sure weights are a minimum 24 lbs. each.
  • Fill PVC pipes capped on one end with cement. Attach one to each canopy pole securely.

Improper canopy anchors

  • A gallon of water weighs 8 lbs. Therefore jugs of water are not heavy enough to anchor a canopy in a gust of wind.
  • Tents, canopies or umbrellas tethered to tables, coolers or vehicles make for tripping hazards and are not sufficiently weighed down.
  • Sandbags that don’t sit upright and can’t be securely tied to the tent or canopy should not be used.
  • Tent stakes are tripping hazards and typically do not provide enough anchor in strong wind gusts.
  • Cinder blocks are hard, easy to trip over, and are all too often the cause of broken toes and shins.


Obviously, it’s best not to erect an umbrella or canopy on windy days. However, if you must, choose one of high quality.  An umbrella made of cheap plastic and a flimsy aluminum frame will not hold up in high winds. Always anchor canopies and tents as directed above.  

Beach umbrellas should always be tilted into the wind and anchored securely.  See the video below for information use of umbrella anchors. You can also purchase sand weights that are made especially for anchoring umbrellas.

We offer other important risk management articles to help lower the risk of liability at markets, festivals and out door events. We also encourage you to call us at (800) 622-7370 if you have questions or to receive a quick quote.


Golf Carts as Transportation (Infographic)

| Injury

Sharing the road raises safety issues

Each year, about 13,000 golf cart-related accidents require emergency room visits, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, and that number rises year after year just as their popularity does. Nearly half of those accidents involve children under the age of 16, half of which are caused by a fall from a moving golf cart.

Apparently, many news reports of such accidents use the term ‘freak accident,’ according to Krisopher Seluga, a mechanical engineering and safety expert. “It’s not. It happens all the time,” he said.

The science behind the numbers

Studies conducted by Seluga using golf carts and child-size crash test dummies suggest that many ejections occur during left turns. Children, according to Seluga, are susceptible to falling because of their small size and lower center of gravity. Younger children aren’t strong enough to hold on to the railings that help adults, which actually acts as a fulcrum for them. It causes them to go up and over during a left turn, increasing the risk of a head-first landing.

Seluga suggests forbidding anyone whose feet don’t rest on the floorboard to ride unless they’re seat belted in.

On the flip side, the safety benefits of seat belt use in golf carts are disputed by Fred Somers, the secretary for the National Golf Cart Manufacturers Association. Somers argues that people need to be able to exit the cart quickly in the event of a rollover, which could result in passengers being crushed if there isn’t a crush-proof canopy installed. Seluga is not aware of any deaths caused by rollovers in which riders were wearing seat belts, but agrees expecting golfers to wear them on the golf course is unrealistic.

Golf cart regulations

The Low Speed Vehicle category was created by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in 1997 as more and more golf carts began being driven on the streets.  Vehicles capable of reaching 20 to 25 mph are required to have seat belts and other safety devices.  NHTSA includes golf cars and personal neighborhood vehicles in this category.

Golf carts used on the streets that go slower than 20 mph are the most popular because they’re more budget-friendly and aren’t regulated unless specific local or state governments have implemented laws or ordinances.

In my opinion

The majority of golf cart accidents that we see in the sports context involve injuries from a golf cart striking a pedestrian.  We have also seen claims arising from accidents involving youth operators transporting spectators from parking areas to ball fields.  The infographic below focuses on golf carts being driven on the golf course. However, the principles are the same when operating a golf cart in any environment –  John Sadler

Golf Cart Safety by Metrolina Carts.

Preventing Paintball Injuries with Risk Management Strategies

| Injury

Critics attack and the industry responds

Paintball continues to be a wildly popular game played by millions of people of all ages in the U.S.  Nevertheless, it’s subject to considerable controversy by critics who believe paintball involves a particularly high risk of serious injuries.

The game involves guns that use compressed carbon dioxide to propel small paint-filled pellets that burst upon contact with an object. The paintball pellets can travel at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour – that’s nearly 300 feet per second.  There are an average of 56 air and paintball gun-related emergency room visits every day nationwide. Children under age 17 make up approximately 60% of those visits. Males are five times more likely to suffer paintball injuries requiring a trip to the ER.

Paintball Injuries

The most serious injuries include eye injuries, ear injuries, and even death. Paintball’s most common minor injuries include cuts, welts, and bruising. Sprained and twisted ankles also occur, and there are reports of players suffering breathing difficulties after being shot in the throat.

Eye injuries make up an estimated 85% of all paintball injuries, many of which can lead to permanent visual impairment, even vision loss. Nearly half of these reported Paintball injuryeye injuries occur in children. Reported paintball-related eye injuries include hemorrhages, corneal scratches, detached retinas, cataracts, and commotio retina (bruising and swelling of the retina).  ANSI-approved safety goggles should be worn at all times on the playing field and shooting range.

Ear injuries are one of the most common paintball injuries. Being shot on or near the ear from close range can lead to cauliflower ear, a ruptured ear drum, tinnitus, permanent or partial hearing loss, and even concussion.

Paintball-related deaths are rare, but can occur. The CPSC issued a paintball gun safety warning in 2004 following reports of two deaths associated with carbon dioxide canisters detaching from paintball guns. In separate incidents the canister flew off and hit a participant and a bystander.

Preventing Paintball Injuries

Basic risk management steps paintball facility owners can take to prevent participant and bystander injuries include:

·       Participants should be at least 14 years old

·       Participants  should undergo pregame safety orientation that includes safety rules, equipment use, and course layout

·       Qualified referees

·       Operator to supplied ANSI-approved safety goggles and other protective equipment

·       Player-supplied eye goggles undergo testing prior to play

·       Use of proper footwear, such as hiking boots or athletic shoes

·       Posting of signage to mark required boundary areas and eye goggle and safety zones

·       Strict enforcement of all safety requirements such as wearing of eye goggles

It’s advisable that all paintball facility operators carry General Liability Insurance with an each-occurrence limit of at least $1 million. Contact us online or call us at 800-622-7370 for a quote.

Source: David Goguen. “Paintball Injury Lawsuits.”

Study: Benefits of Multi-sport Participation and Specialization Delay

| Injury

It’s not just about preventing overuse injuries, it’s also what 88% of college athletes do

Participation in youth sports is at an all-time high in this country, with kids starting almost as soon as they can walk. Children of all ages are in on the action, from T-ball and soccer leagues for kids barely out of the toddler stage to college and Olympic level athletes. Most do it for fun and social interaction, some have high hopes for scholarships or professional careers.

One thing most of these youth athletes have in common is parents herding them to practices and games, cheering them on, and supporting their aspirations. However, sometimes caring parents, intentionally or not, put unnecessary pressure on their children to excel.

Overuse and specialization

One area where this type of pressure is seen is in specializing in one sport. Parents seeking sports scholarships often encourage their children to participate year-round in recreational, travel and school teams of a single sport. Besides the potential for overuse injuries and fatigue, children are at risk for burnout. Kids have their limits and too much of the same thing may push them to quit playing altogether.

A study conducted by UCLA drives home these points . Of 296 NCAA Division I male and female athletes, 88% averaged participation in two to three sports as children and 70% didn’t specialize until after the age of 12. This research suggests that the odds of athletes achieving elite levels through specialization are poor. The exception would be in gymnastics where athletes reach elite levels at a young age.

The general rule of thumb is that children shouldn’t consider specializing until age 15 or 16. However, it’s always best to encourage kids to play different sports and even take a season off. It’s also healthy to balance sports with other activities, such as music, and involvement in scouting or other youth groups.

It’s a girl thing

Girls are participating in more sports at higher levels of competition than ever before. Therefore, it’s important for parents, coaches and players to realize that the anatomical difference between males and females leaves them more vulnerable to certain injuries.

Female athletes are more prone to ACL injuries than male athletes. This is in large part due to the increasing number of  girls playing soccer, a sport that sees more ACL injuries than most. However, the strength of the ACL can be affected by estrogen levels that fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. High injury rates among girls can also be attributed to the fact that they have wider pelvises and weaker hamstrings. This can put added stress on the ACL, according to New York orthopedic surgeon Armin M. Tehrany.

Keeping the lines of communication open

It’s important for athletes to be honest with their parents and trainers about how they feel about playing and any pain they’re experiencing. It’s equally important for parents and trainers to listen and act accordingly. If the child resists going to practice, maybe he or she needs a break. Many athletes fear being taken out of the game if they complain of injuries. Ignoring or playing through pain only increases the risk for further injury and even surgery. Being aware of and practicing sport-specific injury prevention is critical.

Source: Matthew Engel. “Top orthopedic surgeon urges parents not to push young athletes too hard,” 20 July 2017.

Risks of Sports Specialization Among Youth Athletes

Focus on a single sport can lead to overuse injuries

Kids are starting to participate in recreational sports leagues and camps at increasingly younger ages in recent years. T-ball teams, soccer leagues, swim clubs, skating rinks, cheer squads, tumbling schools and even dance studios are filled with little people, some as young 3 and 4 years of age.  And many are choosing to participate in a single activity year round from an early age.

Sports specialization (focusing on a single sport) in youth sports can, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), result in early burnout, emotional stress and overuse injuries. However, the risks can be mitigated by following recommendations by AAP.

Weighing the decision to specialize

Research shows that the physical development of children is better among those who play a variety of sports prior to puberty. Encouraging kids to experience a overuse injuries in youth sportswide range of sports activities also means they’ll be much less likely to lose interest or quit altogether. Studies show that children who specialized in a single sport from a young age tend to have more short-lived athletic careers.  The AAP recommends that children put off specializing in a sport until about age 15 or 16.

It’s important to determine why you or your child thinks he or she should specialize. More often than not, college scholarships are a motivator.  Be realistic about such opportunities: on average, 8% percent of high school athletes succeed in making a college team, but only 1% of those make it on an athletic scholarship.

Specialization and overuse injuries

Specialization can lead to overuse injuries, which can be muscle, bone, tendon or ligament damage resulting from repetitive stress and lack of healing time. One of the most common overuse injuries among athletes is shin splints.

Alarmingly, overuse accounts for half of all sports medicine injuries among children and teens. Children and teens are more susceptible to overuse injuries than adults because their still underdeveloped bones don’t recover as well from stress.

Preventing overuse injuries

So, if the decision has been made to specialize, there are steps that can be taken to lower the risk of overuse injuries.

Be Prepared:  It’s critical that all athletes maintain their fitness level both in and off season. General and sport-specific conditioning during the preseason are also extremely important. An evaluation by a physician prior to participation is the most essential step in determining whether a child can safely play his or her chosen sport. This should be done four to six weeks prior to practice and play to allow for time to address any potential obstacles to participation.

Train Smart: Weekly training times, distances, and repetitions should only be increased by 10% each week. For example, a 15-mile per week run should only be increased to 16.5 miles the following week, 18 miles the week after that and so on. Sport-specific trainingOveruse injuries in youth sports should vary. For instance, runners incorporate a diversity of running surfaces by running on the road, on a treadmill, on grass and in a pool. Likewise, training should include a variety of workouts, such as treadmills/ellipticals, weight lifting, and swimming.

Rest Smart: Training every day is a sure path to emotional and physical stress. Athletes should allow time for recovery by taking at least one day off every week from training, practice and  play. It’s just as important to take four to eight weeks off during the year from a specific sport.  A good rule of thumb is one month off for every six months of training and play.

Avoid Burnout: Overtraining can alter an athlete’s physical, hormonal and mental performance. Remember that a child should enjoy participating and the training should be age appropriate. They shouldn’t look at it as a job or a test. Be aware of changes in the athlete’s eating and sleeping habits. In particular, be alert for changes in or cessation of a girl’s menstrual period. Don’t hesitate to consult a physician if such changes are observed.

  • Trisha Korioth, “Too much, too soon: Overtraining can lead to injury, burnout.” 29 Aug, 2016.
  • “Preventing Overuse Injuries.” 21 Nov. 2015.

Youth Athletes and Concussion Recovery

Too many parents following outdated medical advice

Starve a cold, feed a fever. Swimming within 30 minutes of eating causes cramps. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. Tilt the head back to stop a nosebleed. All outdated but once heavily relied upon advice from the medical community. Sadly, these and similarly unsubstantiated notions continue to circulate. And apparently so are incorrect ideas about concussion recovery.

Despite ongoing media attention and education efforts surrounding concussions, research shows that many parents still rely on outdated advice when monitoring their concussed children. Where once the impact of concussions was downplayed, apparently now parents are going to the opposite extreme and impeding recovery.

A national survey conducted by UCLA Health asked 569 parents how they would care for a child with concussion symptoms that persisted a week following the head injury. More than 75% said they would wake their child to check on them throughout the night and 84% said they would not permit the child to participate in any physical activity. About 65% said they prohibit use of electronic devices.

Making a healthy recovery

Frequent disruption or lack of sleep can affect memory, moods and energy levels, which are exactly what doctors use to measure concussion recovery. Once the child has been examined by a medical professional and determined to be at no further risk, sleep will help the brain recover more quickly, according to Christopher Giza, a UCLA paediatric neurologist.

And while contact sports are to be avoided until the child is fully recovered and cleared by a medical professional, mild exercise and aerobic activities such as walking and bike riding promote the healing process and overall good health.

As for electronic devices, it’s a good idea to keep kids off them during the early days of the injury. But easing them into their normal social, intellectual and physical activity is what’s best.

Most concussion patients make a full recovery, though dizziness and headaches can persist for weeks. Parents should always heed the advice of the physician monitoring the child and remember that rest and pain relievers for headaches are the best treatments in most cases.

Source: “Parents following outdated concussion tips,” 08 Sept. 2016.

Most Common Fatal Risks Faced By Outdoor Participants

Surprising causes behind the most common incidents

More than 305 million people visit U.S. national parks each year. The National Park Service reports an average of 160 visitor deaths annually. Those are pretty good statistics, but they could be lower. And the types of injuries and fatalities reported in these parks can happen to anyone in the great outdoors, whether hiking, camping or participating in outdoor sports.

The best way to avoid injuries in these settings is to plan and prepare well. Choose activities that match the experience and skills of everyone involved, Gather information about weather and the environment prior to setting out and ask about specific hazards in the area upon arrival at your destination.  And, of course, always follow the posted rules and regulations. Use of the buddy system can also go a long way in lowering the risk for injury or death: two sets of eyes and ears are better than one.

Below are six of the most common causes of injuries and death in the great outdoors:

  1. Drowning is the most common cause of death in national parks. Sadly, drowning while swimming incidents have increased every year, from 32 in 2007 to 59 in 2013. Boaters, kayakers and rafters also account for many drownings, while fewer than 10 resulted from rip currents.
  2. Vehicular accidents in national parks, surprisingly, account for the second most frequent cause of death in national parks. The National Park Service reported 143 fatalities between 2007and 2013, despite the lack of heavily trafficked roads. Reckless drivers exist everywhere. Six of the accidents involved bicyclists, seven involved pedestrians and 42 of those who died were on motorcycles.
  3. Severe weather conditions such as gusting winds and flash floods cause the fewest fatalities – only eight from 2007 to 2013. However, other environmental factors played a role in deaths. Exposure to cold or heat, avalanches, and rockslides are examples such causes of fatal incidents in the wilderness. Advance preparation and knowledge of existing hazards can prevent being caught in dangerous conditions.
  4. Slips/falls by hikers resulted in 169 deaths in national parks between 2007 and 2013. People falling over cliffs, from trees and rocks, over waterfalls and down slippery slopes are all too common incidents that can result in serious injury and death. Likewise, slipping in streams or on trails covered in wet leaves and brush are the cause of many injuries.
  5. Wildlife sightings are a big draw for visitors to parks and other outdoor areas. Unfortunately, the animals aren’t usually quite as enamored with their human visitors. The most common cause of death by wild animal is attack by grizzly bear. Other animals that commonly present a risk are mountain goats, boars and snakes.
  6. Poisoning by carbon monoxide, drugs, alcohol and toxic plants are very rare, but do occasionally occur.

Source: “How many people actually die in national parks?” 21 Oct. 2016

Celebrity Trainer Client Suffers Injury and Files Lawsuit

When the trainer or facility is liable

Sore muscles and the occasional pulled ligament at the gym aren’t uncommon and are to be expected. Warming up before exercising and using the equipment correctly are the best ways to prevent injuries. One responsibility of the gym’s staff members and trainers is to assist clients in the proper use of the equipment.

Improper use of equipment and improper supervision can lead to serious trouble for both staff and clients.

A costly fall

A New York woman filed suit against her trainer after she was injured during a training session. According to the suit, Nicole Dickstein, 37, was seriously injured after falling off a balance ball. Dickstein alleges that the ball moved suddenly while she was standing on the side of the ball on one leg holding weights and with no support.

Dickstein’s $250 private training session with celebrity trainer Rich Barretta resulted in a torn hamstring. The injury required extensive surgery that included the insertion of hardware. The suit did not specify the damages Dickstein in seeking. The surgery alone had to run in the many thousands of dollars.

Injuries such as these not only rack up huge medical bills, but can incur the injured person lost wages, emotional trauma, hardship at home, and even derail life events such as weddings and vacations. If the trainer or the gym owner/operator is found liable for the injury, one or both can suffer huge financial losses, not only in compensation to the injured, but in attorney fees, court costs and more.

Protection for health clubs and trainers

We highly recommend that all personal trainers and fitness club owner/operators Treadmills as Health Club Risksread “Risks that Could Put Your Fitness Center Out of Business” and “Injuries at Gyms and Homes.”  

Sadler offers Fitness Instructor Insurance specifically designed to meet the unique needs of personal trainers of all types, including aerobics, yoga, and pilates.. We also offer several Health Club Insurance programs, one of which will meet your facility’s needs. You can get a fast quote by clicking the links above or calling 800-62-07370.

Source: Julia Marsh. “Mom sues celebrity trainer after suffering torn hamstring.” 05 Aug. 2016.

Heat Illness: A Potential Bounce House Risk

Is it too early to jump to conclusions?

We’ve all heard tragic stories of kids and pets left unattended in vehicles in hot weather. Some parents and pet owners have simply been distracted for a few moments and suffered the greatest of losses.

One parent, a researcher at the University of Georgia, wondered if bounce houses might pose a similar risk for children. Marshall Shepherd is a professor of geography and atmospheric sciences who saw his own child bouncing in one on a hot day and decided to test his theory. The results of his study, “Do Inflatable Bounce Houses Pose Heat-related Hazards to Children?” was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Children are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion and other heat illnesses, according to Shepherd’s co-author Andrew Grundstein, also of UGA. Children need to be monitored closely when participating in sports and other physical activities in hot, humid weather. It’s possible they could become overheated in the greenhouse-like environment of a bounce house.

Indicators of potential heat illness can include dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and skin that is moist and flushed.

How hot is hot?

The study’s experiments were conducted on a bounce house on the UGA campus in typical summer weather conditions for Athens, Georgia. Measurements over a five-hour timespan showed that the the bounce house air temperatures were consistently greater than the ambient temperatures. On a 92°F day, the temperature in the inflatable was nearly four degrees higher. When outdoor temperatures exceeded 100° F, the temperatures in the bounce house were almost seven degrees higher.

The heat index, where relative humidity is factored into the actual air temperature to determine how hot it actually feels, was also taken into consideration in the study. The difference in the heat index inside the inflatable was considerably greater than that of the air temperatures. The bounce house’s average heat index reached nearly 104°F, or more than seven degrees than outside, while difference at the peak temperature of 117°F was more eight degrees.

The risk to sports organizations

Some sports organizations bring in bounce houses as fundraisers. General Liability policies for sports organizations often have an exclusion for inflatables due to the risks of injury involved. Recent media accounts have cited examples of serious injuries occurring when improperly anchored inflatables have been lifted high into the air during wind gusts. Inflatable or bounce house operators should always provide proof of General Liability insurance with an each occurrence limit of at least $1 million and name the sports organization as an additional insured.

Source: “Researchers Say Bounce Houses Raise Heat Safety Concern,” 10 Aug. 2016.

Skateboarding Injuries

| Injury

Why one city will be paying the price

Issues of liability at a skate park that isn’t even built yet are causing an uproar in the city of Niagara Falls. Apparently the agreement drawn up by former professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and park designer Aaron Spohn relieves them of any liability. The city’s mayor and community development director accepted a $10,000 grant from Hawk, who included a no-liability clause in the agreement.

And that could cost the city’s taxpayers years and years of litigation fees and settlements defending inevitable injury claims.

Skateboarding is classified as an “extreme sport,” a class that reported over 4 million injuries between 2000 and 2011, according to the New York Times. A 2014 study conducted by Western Michigan University School of Medicine shows that nearly one in every 10 of those involved the head (87%) or neck (17%).  Annually, an estimated 1500 hospitalizations and 50,000 emergency room visits by young skateboarders occur nationwide.

Falling from various heights and while moving at great speeds commonly results in injuries affecting the spine, limbs, and hips. Fractures of the wrist and ankle are the most frequently reported. Concussions also rank very high among skating injuries, according to David Shafron, a Phoenix neurosurgeon.

More skaters were injured while skating on ramps and in skate arenas or parks, according to a 2001 study, while fewer than 10 percent of injuries occurred while skating on roads.  Many skaters lack the training and skills to duplicate the stunts they see professional skaters pull off. Many amateurs also fail to wear safety helmets and padding, which increases the risk of broken bones, concussions, and even life-altering disabilities.

Risk management is the key to lowering the risks for injuries in any sport. We invite you to read our many free articles on injury prevention and risk management. We also offer Skate Park General Liability and Accident insurance. For more information, please call us at (800) 622-7370.

Source: Mike Hudson, “Skateboard Gurus Hawk, Spohn Absolved of Liability for Injuries at New Park Here,” 25 Aug. 2015