Archive for the ‘Risk Management’ Category

Latest on Youth Concussions from American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics just released an update on Sport-Related Concussions in Children and Adolescents. This 24-page report highlights the major developments in new concussion knowledge and treatment since the first report, which was published in 2010.

To follow are the points that I find to be of particular interest. Some the conclusions and actionable recommendations may be contrary to what is being disseminated by various bloggers and vendors of products related to concussions. But always remember that true science can be a very slow process and future studies may ultimately prove contrary results. If these topics are of interest, you should read the entire article for more information.

Concussions: Mechanical vs Chemical/Cellular Injury

There is no universally-accepted definition of a concussion and there are a wide range of symptoms which require individual management.

After a biomechanical injury to the brain due to either direct impact or whiplash effect, a cascade of chemical changes occur resulting in injury on a cellular level. Some of the medical terms for these are potassium efflux from neurons, increase in extracellular glutamate, upregulation of sodium-potassium ion pumps, depletion of intracellular injury reserves, and increased use of adenosine triphosphate and hyperglycolysis. All of these biochemical reactions result in decreased blood flow and increased energy demand which leads to an energy crisis.

In other words, concussions are a lot more complicated than just a bump to the head, making future research and studies necessary.

Rest After Concussions

After a concussion, an immediate reduction in physical and mental activity can be beneficial to recovery. However, prolonged restrictions of physical activities and delayed return to school can have negative effects on recovery and symptoms. A graduated return-to-play protocol should be followed under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Reporting of Concussions Over the Past Decade

Studies indicate that the reporting of youth concussions has increased dramatically over the last decade with increases ranging from 57% to 200%. This is likely caused by the increased overall awareness of coaches, participants, and parents due to media exposure and education initiatives.

Concussions in Girls vs Boys

Female athletes are more likely to report symptoms to an authority figure than male athletes, despite Concussions in Girls soccerboth having the same knowledge.

Studies indicate that concussion rates from highest to lowest for boys are as follows: American tackle football, lacrosse, ice hockey, and wrestling. For girls: soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and basketball.

Girls have higher concussion rates than boys in soccer and basketball.

The reasons that girls seem to be more susceptible are not entirely clear, but it has been suggested that it is due to weaker neck musculature and estrogen.

In school sports, for boys and girls combined, the following have the highest concussion rates: middle school tackle football, girls soccer, cheerleading, and girls basketball.

A study of youth tackle football for ages 8 to 12 indicates that the concussion rates are higher than in high school athletes and that 11 to 12 year olds have a nearly 2.5 increased risk as compared to 8 to 10 year olds.

Concussion incidence is higher in competition than in practice for males and females across nearly all sports.

Most Frequent Signs and Symptoms

Headache 86% to 96%
Dizziness 65% to 75%
Difficulty Concentrating 48% to 61%
Confusion 40% to 46%

Problems to Watch Out For in Post-concussion Diagnostic Tests

The most frequent sideline test used by athletic trainers is the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) and is available in following forms: Child SCAT 5 (ages 5 to 12) and SCAT 5 (ages 13+). These tests, which only take about 10 minutes to perform, are being constantly updated. They consist of observable signs of concussion, symptoms assessment, memory questions, neurological assessment, and balance assessment.

Symptoms can mimic pre-existing problems such as migraine, headache disorders, learning disorders, ADHD, mental health conditions, and sleep disorders. As a result, the examiner should be informed of any such condition.

Some sideline diagnostic assessment tools and checklists are not appropriate for children ages 5 to 12. Younger athletes perform worse on questions such as naming months or numbers in reverse. Concussions in youth sportsVariations are available for younger children such as the Child SCAT 5..

Tests that measure visual deficits, such as the King-Devick Test, show promise but not enough evidence from studies yet to recommend their inclusion in the SCAT.

While healthcare professionals find sideline assessment tests to be helpful, they are not to be used in isolation in diagnosing a concussion. Not enough studies exist at this time to recommend widespread use in children. Also, the value of sideline tests is minimized without a baseline test for comparison. See HitCheck for an example of an affordable sideline assessment app.

Are CAT Scans and MRIs Necessary? Which One Is Superior?

CAT scans and MRIs are critical when a severe intracranial injury or structural lesion (skull fracture or hemorrhage) is suspected, but they are not effective in diagnosing a concussion. Despite this, the use of neuroimaging increased 36% between 2006 and 2011.

Recent literature indicates that it is highly unlikely that significant intracranial hemorrhaging occurs after six hours without a deterioration in the level of consciousness. As a result, prescribing a CT without any deterioration of consciousness after six hours is unlikely to be helpful.

When neuroimaging is necessary, CT’s are more cost effective and can usually be arranged more quickly. However, children’s exposure to radiation may increase the risk of certain cancers over the long term. After the emergency period is over, MRIs are superior to CTs in detection of cerebral contusion, petechial hemorrhage, and white-matter injury.

Baseline Neurocognitive Testing

Studies conducted independently by developers of paper and online testing platforms have questioned the reliability of baseline tests from year to year. It is important for the reviewer who compares baseline to post- injury tests to understand modifiers that could alter results, such as depression, lack of sleep, failure to take ADHD medication, and athletes with musculoskeletal injuries.

The best environment for baseline and post-injury testing is a quiet, distraction-free environment, which can be very difficult to achieve for most schools and organizations.

Concerns about athlete “sandbagging” and intentionally under-performing on baseline tests are exaggerated as this can be detected.

Neurocognitive tests should not be used as the sole determining factor in return-to-play decisions.

Retirement After Multiple Concussions

The decision to retire an athlete after multiple concussions should not be tied to any specific number of concussions.

An athlete who has suffered multiple concussions should be referred to a specialist with expertise in this area for guidance.

Prevention of Concussions: What Can Be Proven By Studies

  • Mouth guards: After an initial 1954 study suggesting a connection between mouth guards and reduction of concussions, several larger studies refuted this assertion. Evidence of an advantage of custom mouth guards over non-custom remains inconclusive.
  • Helmets: Helmets were designed to reduce severe injuries such as skull fractures, subdural Football helmets and concussionshematomas, and brainstem contusion or hemorrhage. The goal of reduction of concussions has not proven to be productive. Several studies show no difference between several brands and models of helmets, both new and refurbished, in terms of severity of symptoms, frequency, and recovery time. Helmet improvements are not likely to ever be the solution to the concussion problem.
  • Aftermarket Helmet Attachments: No study has ever shown that aftermarket helmet attachments such as pads, shock absorbers, and sensors prevent or reduce the severity of concussions. The use of sensors to clinically diagnose or assess concussions cannot be supported at this time and do not have a role in decision making. See our article “Add-on Helmet Products.”
  • Other Headgear: Soccer headgear has not proven beneficial in the reduction of head-to-head or head-to-ball impact. Such headgear may actually increase the incidence of injury by encouraging more aggressive play.
  • Education: Education and awareness of concussions has proven effective in diagnosing, treating, and making return-to-play decisions. This finding is consistent with Sadler Sports Insurance injury data on concussion rates in youth baseball and football prior to 2012 and after 2012.
  • Biomarkers: Biomarkers have been investigated in playing a role in concussion evaluation. These include predisposition factors, delayed recovery, and increased catastrophic risk. These investigations are preliminary and none have advanced to use in a clinical setting.
  • Supplements: Numerous supplements have been investigated as to playing a role in preventing or in speeding up the recovery time from concussions. There are currently no studies in humans to support a benefit from supplements.
  • Neck Strengthening: Strengthening the cervical muscles and activating those muscles prior to impact has been found to reduce forces from head impact. Poor neck strength has been shown to correlate with the incidence of concussions. One study showed that each additional pound of neck strength resulted in a 5% reduction in concussions.
  • Rule Changes: Rule changes and enforcement of rules by officials may help to reduce the likelihood of concussions. Recent initiatives in youth sports look promising. These include elimination of checking in ice hockey and heading soccer in younger age groups, and reducing contact in football practice.

I hope you enjoyed my summary of this very informative article. At Sadler Sport Insurance, we have an excellent risk management library on the topic of concussion and brain injury risk management that you should check out.


 

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.

Umbrellas

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.


Sources:

Overhydration in Sports Can Have Deadly Consequences

Players must adequately hydrate, but overdoing it can be life threatening

College and high school football teams across the country are currently conditioning and practicing for the upcoming football season. And they’re doing it in the hottest weeks of the summer.

In 2017, University of Texas coach, Tom Herman,  assessed the hydration level of players, and their dedication to the team, based on the color of their urine. The color color-coded chart he developed labeled players with deep-yellow urine “selfish teammates.” Orange to brown-colored urine signified players as “bad guys.”

While I don’t advocate such shaming, the color chart is useful as a risk managementtool. We refer to the importance of hydration and a urine color chart referred to in our article “Guide To Preventing Heat Stroke Death In Youth Tackle Football.”

But apparently fanatical adherence by some has led to the dangerous practice of overhydration. This is also known as exercise-associated hyponatremia. While it’s important that players be mindful of staying hydrated, “hydration shaming” has filtered into high school sports.

Since 2014, two high school football players died during August football practice from overhydration. One died after drinking two gallons of water and two gallons of Gatorade following practice. Ironically, there is no documentation of any football player dying from dehydration. However, since 2014, seven succumbed fatally to heatstroke.

A delicate balance

Overhydration results from drinking too much water or sports drinks, which dilutes the level of salt in the blood. The body fills with more fluids than it can expel through perspiration or urination.  The result is a swelling of all the cells in the body.

Sadly, the symptoms of hyponatremia are similar to those of dehydration. Overhydration can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and lead to coma and seizures. In addition to extreme thirst, dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness and confusion.

Scientists know that the body self-regulates its water balance. All land mammals require water and have a thirst trigger hardwired into the brain that protects the balance between water and salt. When the trigger is ignored, dehydration occurs. Oversaturation of our thirst results in hyponatremia.

Proper hydration

Players must drink regularly throughout all physical activities, no matter the temperature. An athlete shouldn’t only rely on his or her sense of thirst to sufficiently maintain proper hydration.

  • Athletes should have a variety of fluids freely available and be free to drink whenever they feel thirsty.
  • Encourage athletes to drink 16 ozs. of fluid two hours before physical activity and to drink before, during and after practices and games.

The weather, the sport being played and the size of the athlete all determine how much one needs to drink. Tom Herman’s hydration chart (without the commentary) or similar,  is a good basic tool for assessing your athlete’s level of hydration.


Source: Tamara Hew-Butler. “Young athletes should stay hydrated, but too much water can be deadly.” cnn.com. 7 August 2018.

Sports / Event Insurance for Terrorism, Active Shooter, and Civil Unrest

Las Vegas incident could be tipping point for revamped insurance and risk management

Ever-increasing threats involving terrorism, active shooters, civil unrest and other malicious acts bring to light the need for new, more comprehensive insurance coverage forms. They also prove the need for pre-event and post-event risk management.

As a result of the Las Vegas incident, gone are the days when sports / event administrators can just hope for the best. Sports and recreation events with large numbers of participants / spectators in public settings are ripe targets for malicious actors. As a result, these organizations must start to purchase appropriate insurance and follow risk management best practices when addressing these threats.

The rise in incidents

Active shooter is the most recent peril to gain widespread media attention. This is due to its increasing frequency, ease of planning / execution, and difficulty in prevention. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) definition of an active shooter is “…an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in Terrorism insurancemost cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.”

According to the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center, active shooter events increased from 5.2 per year from 2000 to 2008 to 15.8 events per year from 2009-2012. The figure rose to an average of 20 incidents per year in 2014 and 2015, according to the FBI. Most of these events occurred on business, school, and government properties. However, the Las Vegas incident introduced sports and recreation venues as high-profile target areas.

Mass violence and civil unrest perils represent the potential for many types of losses to sports and recreation organizations

  • Liability for failure to have a risk management plan, failure to respond, inadequate on-site security, inadequate on-site medical personnel, fencing too high to escape, etc. resulting in bodily injury to participants, spectators, employees, independent contractors, vendors, and other members of the public. The potential for damages are astronomical due to the large number of people at risk.
  • Property damage to premises and clean-up expenses. Property damage may result from bullet holes, bomb blasts, fire, vandalism, and contamination. Clean up may include removal of bodies, blood, debris, and contaminants.
  • Public relations expenses and post-event counseling expenses due to emotional and psychological duress.
  • Loss of income from the event and future events, both at the same location and all locations.
  • Loss of reputation resulting in lost future revenues.

Meet the mass violence and disruption perils

Standard terrorism: Traditional terrorist attacks are large scale and highly coordinated. They typically target global corporations, buildings, transportation systems, and other infrastructure with bomb blasts. A new type of ISIS-inspired terrorism emerged in recent years with smaller, lone-wolf type attacks. These include the use of trucks to run through crowds and small arms and knife attacks. Terrorists attempt to intimidate, coerce, or harm a civilian population or government.

Chemical, biological, radioactive terrorism: Terrorists can cause catastrophic loss of life, property damage, and financial loss from chemical, biological, and dirty bomb terrorism. Even the mere threat of these types of terrorism incidents can cause massive losses due to closures, evacuations, and postponements while the threat is being investigated.

Cyber terrorism: Terrorists may employ cyber attacks on a government’s infrastructure, industrial controls, banking system, hospitals, etc., resulting in property damage and business interruption.

Active shooter: Active shooters are typically single assailants who attack large groups in confined spaces. They have no connection to their victims and are not motivated by terrorist causes.

Civil unrest: A disruption in the social order involving a group of people engaging in protests, riots, and strikes, which may result in violence, property damage, and loss of revenue.

Impairment of access: Acts or mere threats of violence can prevent employees or customers from accessing work sites, resulting in financial loss. Impairment may result from terrorism, civil unrest, strike, or government cordon at either the employer’s location, adjacent locations, or within a certain mile radius.

What insurance coverages are required to protect against mass violence and disruptions?

The types of common insurance policies that can come into play after a mass violence or disruption incident are Workers’ Compensation, General Liability, Excess Liability, Property (direct damage and loss of business income), Cyber Risk, Event Cancellation, and Active Shooter insurance.

Workers’ Compensation and Employer’s Liability

Workers’ Compensation responds to job-related injuries to employees or uninsured subcontractors. It covers medical bills, lost wages, and lump-sum awards for disabilities, disfigurements and death benefits. Uninjured employees who witness a malicious act event may qualify for benefits due to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Workers’ Compensation is typically the exclusive remedy for an injured worker.  But some scenarios may arise where employers can be sued directly for failure to respond to specific threat warnings prior to an event. There is no terrorism exclusion under a Workers’ Comp policy.

General Liability

The standard General Liability policy form carried by most sports and recreation organizations will likely respond to most claims alleging failure of the organization to prevent or adequately respond to an incident resulting in Property damagebodily injury or property damage. Note that the policy’s each-occurrence and/or aggregate limit may not be adequate to pay the types of extreme damages that may result when multiple individuals are killed or seriously injured.

General Liability policies may contain an exclusion for certified acts of terrorism as defined by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) unless the buyback has been selected with the additional premium paid. Opting for the buyback, which is relatively inexpensive, is strongly recommended. To be a certified act of terrorism under TRIA, all property & casualty insurance losses must exceed $5 million and an effort made to coerce a civilian population of the U.S. or influence the conduct of the U.S. government.

Excess Liability / Umbrella 

Excess Liability insurance extends the liability limits of the underlying General Liability policy in increments of $1 million, depending on the policy limits purchased. The same coverage considerations that apply to General Liability also apply to Excess Liability. Excess Liability policies may contain the TRIA exclusion for certified acts of terrorism. In addition, some carriers may apply an additional exclusion for non-certified acts of terrorism. This could eliminate coverage for smaller scale terrorist events and active shooter situations. Sports organizations should strongly consider opting for the buyback from certified acts of terrorism under TRIA. They should also consider negotiating with their carrier to remove any exclusion for non-certified acts of terrorism.

Property and Business Interruption

Property insurance policies may pay for Interruption of Businessdirect damage to buildings and contents from a covered malicious act attack. They may also cover indirect damage, which includes loss of business income and extra expense.

Coverage for business interruption is only triggered if there is a direct physical damage loss under the policy. Organizations should also consider a business income buyback for losses stemming from actions by a civil authority to prevent or limit access. This commonly occurs after a malicious act as the location will be considered a crime scene. Business interruption insurance is a complicated coverage. As a result, if a loss occurs, organizations should hire an expert to assist with the filing of a claim to maximize recovery.

Certified acts of terrorism under TRIA can be covered if the buyback is selected and the additional premium paid. However, even with TRIA, the standard war exclusion will not be removed and additional exclusions may exist for nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological (NBCR), depending on the state.

Cyber Risk

Cyber extortionists can shut down computer systems with denial-of-Ransomware attackservice attacks and other cyber-extortion schemes. Terrorists can hack into systems causing direct damage to equipment, software programs, and data. Cyber Risk policies can pay for the following direct damages to the policyholder: extortion or ransom costs; restoration costs of lost data, information, and programming; and business interruption and extra expense resulting from failure of computer systems.

Cyber Risk policies can also pay for liability costs resulting from hacking, breach of confidential data and related credit monitoring costs.  

Event Cancellation Insurance and Enhancements

Due to the limitations of standard property & casualty insurance policies, we advise sports organizations hosting events purchase Event Cancellation insurance with appropriate coverage enhancements.

Traditional Event Cancellation policies may cover loss of business income due to adverse weather; venue unavailability from perils such as fire, collapse, gas leaks, and flood; wildfires, earthquakes; loss or power or communications; communicable disease; non-appearance of key speaker or entertainer; and national mourning.

Additional endorsements may be available to cover loss of business income due to terrorism; sabotage; active shooter, chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear (CBNR) terrorism; war, civil war, and political subversion; strikes, riots, and civil commotion; political intimidating; and national mourning. Some carriers may extend coverage to mere threat of many of these perils.

Active Shooter Insurance

New specialty forms have emerged for stand-alone Active Shooter Insurance. If this coverage can’t be endorsed onto an Event Cancellation Policy for loss of revenues, sports / event administrators should consider an Active Shooter policy. Also, Active Active Shooter InsuranceShooter policies offer a liability limit. The most common coverages and benefits are as follows:

  • Primary Liability with limits ranging from $500,000 to $25,000,000 to cover allegations of negligence from harm caused by attacks using deadly weapons. Even if existing General Liability and Excess Liability policies respond to these allegations, such limits may not be high enough to cover potential damages in an active shooter situation. As a result, a high-limit Active Shooter policy may be a more cost effective way to increase protection.
  • Pre-event services, such as security vulnerability assessment, preparedness seminars, and training modules.
  • Post-event services, including crisis management, advising on emergency communications, emergency call center, and counseling.

Pre-event risk management training for active shooter

Pre-event risk management for active shooter situations is becoming commonplace in educational, business, and governmental settings. Training staff on how to exit, resist, or fight can buy time for law enforcement to arrive.

One respected source of training is the ALICE Training Institute, which focuses its online training module on the following:

Alert: Recognizing danger, first notification to those at risk and law enforcement

Lockdown: Secure in place if unable to evacuate or prepare to evacuate or counter

Inform: Notify law enforcement or others at risk in real time if possible

Counter: Interrupt intruder plans and objectives

Evacuate: Move from danger when safe to do so

ALICE provides client-specific training with a plan geared towards particular locations. In the context of sports and event incidents, the two preferred techniques are usually alert and evacuation.

How to get a quote for Event Cancellation and Active Shooter

For more information on Event Cancellation and Active Shooter insurance and risk management please complete our Contact Us form or call 800-622-7370 and ask for our sports department.

 

Deterring Child Predators in Youth Sports

Protecting kids is a group effort

Do parents who send their children to ball practice ever think that they might be handing them over to a sexual predator?  That’s probably the last thing that crosses their mind.  They assume that they can trust the coaches, volunteers and league administrators who come in contact with their children..

The predatSad soccer playeror’s thought process

League administrators are responsible to do all in their power to protect these children.  It is unfortunate that not everyone is aware of the dangers that sexual predators pose or are how this battle to protect our children can be fought.  The September 1999, Sports Illustrated article “Every Parent’s Nightmare”  is still relevant.  It’s an in-depth, in-your-face report about abuse in youth sports. The article takes readers inside the heads of  the average sexual predator. It delves deep into the thought process of predators who found their victims on ballfields. Those highlighted in the story made a combined effort to let readers know HOW they got to the children and signs for which parents and other adults need to be on the lookout.

Although there is no foolproof method to prevent sexual abuse and molestation, we can work together as a team to put safeguards in place.  In collaboration with attorneys, insurance underwriters and national risk managers, we have developed information to provide our youth sports league administrators, coaches and volunteers with the necessary tools for putting a risk management program in place.  The risk management section of our website provides a Child Abuse and Molestation Protection Program, Child Abuse and Molestation Handout for Parents, and specific information on conducting criminal background checks.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like any further information.

Personal Trainers and Dietary Supplements

Fitness instructors must work within the limits of their certification

All personal trainers and fitness instructors want to see their clients get results from the training that they provide, but it’s important they know their own limits.  Personal trainers are often asked for advice about dietary supplements, while others even take on the additional role of selling them.

I caution personal trainers about giving such advice on any level because, believe it or not, they can be swept up as a defendant in a product liability suit.

The dietary supplement industry has been the focus of an FDA criminal investigation for widespread deceptive marketing tactics and hidden ingredients in some products. In 2015,  charges were filed against 117 manufacturers and distributers of products falsely marketed as dietary supplements.

Another big issue with dietary supplements is how many contain undeclared substances – as many as 25% of those on the market. Not all those undeclared substances are necessarily harmful, but surely the manufacturers have an obligation to inform consumers as to what they’re ingesting.

The root of the problem

In 1994, Congress defined  dietary supplement as “a product taken by mouth that contains a dietary ingredient intended to supplement the diet.” This resulted in supplements fitting into the regulatory category of foods, not drugs.  That being said, the regulations for supplements are much more lax than those  for prescription medications. This leaves an opening for supplement manufacturers and distributers to infiltrate the market with impure and mislabeled dietary supplements.

What this means for you

If a client to whom you offered advice about or sold a dietary supplement has an adverse reaction due to an undeclared substance, you could be sued along with the manufacturer, distributor, and retailer in a product liability lawsuit.

A case that made it to the New York State Supreme Court detailed in the New York Times article “Health Club and Trainer are Sued in a Death” shows what can happen when a trainer goes too far in advising clients on dietary supplements.

It’s best to steer clear of offering nutritional and dietary advice. Stay in your lane as a certified fitness instructor,

Sports Risk Management for Senior Participants

Preventing injuries and accidents with senior athletes

The baby boomers have gone gray. The youngest of them are in their mid-50s, sprinting toward their senior citizen discounts and fumbling for their reading glasses.

But the generation that ushered in aerobics classes, jogging, and in-home treadmills to popular culture aren’t slowing down. Gyms, rec centers, and fitness classes are filled with people in their 60s and 70s.

If you’re a personal trainer, health/rec center owner/operator, or sporting event planner, you need to be cognizant of the particular health and safety concerns when working with seniors.

First things first

You can expect that most seniors have significant health-related histories that range Fitness Trainer insurancefrom failing vision to cardiac disease and anything inbetween. It’s important that you obtain a current and detailed medical history from all seniors, which should include current medications, allergies, implanted devices and past surgeries.

Orthopedic issues

One of the first things to degrade as we age is our sense of balance, which means an increased risk of falls. Minimize these risks by making monitoring trip hazards such as curled mat edges, rugs that slip, wet area and split-level step ups.

Time and use have left their mark on the joints, bones and muscles of seniors. Arthritis and osteoporosis are common ailments  among seniors. The results can be loss of cartilage, lack of joint-lubricating fluids, and diminished strength of tendons and ligaments. Such issues leave seniors more susceptible to falls, stress fractures.

Age also has a way of affecting our reflexes, so seniors typically react more slowly. It’s important to recognize that senior athletes may be in good physical shape to participate in their activity of choice, but their reaction time may be less toned, which can result in accidents.

Cardiac and pulmonary issues

Heart and lung-related medical issues are often not immediately apparent, which makes them that much more dangerous. This is a perfect example of why having a medical history on file is important.  Seniors with such histories should be required to provide clearance from their medical provider before participating in vigorous or moderate to high aerobic activities.

Heart disease can result in a decreased supply of oxygen to the muscles, which can cause shortness of breath, chest pain and even a heart attack.  A defibrillator should be available at your facility or sporting event and staff trained in its use.Sports risk management

Seniors with a history of smoking, asthma and chronic lung disease should be monitored for signs of stressful breathing. Extremely hot and humid conditions can also impact breathing, as can pollen when participating in outdoor activities.

Eyes and ears

Eyesight is among the first senses to be affected with age. Suggest to those who wear glasses that they bring an extra pair just in case they break theirs. Better yet, suggest they invest in sports lenses or a sturdy headband to prevent glasses from falling off. Consider taking the proactive step of keeping a glasses repair kit on hand. Adequate lighting, especially in corridors and restrooms, is essential.

While many seniors live with varying degrees of hearing loss, most do nothing about it. Consequently, they miss much verbal information, which can cause confusion and accidents. It helps to have as much information as possible available in print documents. Clear signage is also important in facilities and venues.

The outdoors

As stated earlier, heat and humidity are significant concerns for senior citizens. They’re also more susceptible to dehydration. Make sure seniors athletes always have access to seating, shade, and plenty of water when it’s hot to avoid any level of heat illness. Encourage them to wear hats and sunglasses when possible and to apply sunscreen.

Rain means puddles and slippery surfaces, and we already know seniors are prone to falling. Monitor the paths and playing areas for accumulated water and slippery areas, as well as holes and debris such as trash and limbs and leaves.

The bottom line

No need to fear working with senior athletes. Most have been active for many years and are aware of their limitations. But being prepared for the unexpected is your best bet in dodging liability in the event of an injury.


Source: Marc I. Leavey. “Planning a Sports Event?” Sports Destination Management. March/April 2017.

Managing Risk in Parking Lots During Sports Events

Aim for an injury-free zone

Sporting events are controlled competition among rivals, and that gets people excited. For as long as people have been running races, throwing balls, and riding horses, crowds have gathered to cheer on the competitors.

When emotions run high, that excitement can continue after the competition is over, and not always with good results.  All too often, the parking lots associated with sporting events can become an arena for fights, assaults and other dangerous behavior. Parking lots are where more than 7 percent of violent attacks at sporting and other large crowd events take place, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Anything can happen

Tailgating and fierce rivalries can lead to confrontations, intentional or not. Whenever alcohol is present, so is the potential for a something to go wrong. For example, a fan suffered a broken leg following a college football game when a drunk patron knocked her down as she walked to her vehicle. She sued the school because no securitSporting event parking lot liabilityy or parking lots attendants were present when the incident took place. Taking the fact that the school sold alcohol at the event and therefore knew the potential for intoxication and the risks involved to attendees, the court ruled in the student’s favor.

The facility’s responsibility

Facility owners/managers should take proactive steps to reduce the potential for bodily injury and property damage in parking lots that can result from tailgating, accidents, fights, assaults, vandalism, etc. Anytime a large crowd includes excited, upset, and possibly intoxicated people, tempers can flare. Add to the mix rain, heat, and/or a long wait to get out of the parking lot, and trouble can easily erupt.

Below are risk management strategies to reduce parking lot risks.

  1.  Document everything. It’s easier to defend your facility if it has written training manuals, documented safety checks, a log of issues/resolutions and video or still images of recorded incidents.
  2. Maintain appropriate lighting, checking bulbs annually.
  3. Remove shrubs and keep large trashcans and other large objects from obstructing a full view of the parking lot.
  4. Have sufficient parking lot staff to visually monitor and conduct periodic walking checks of all areas.
  5. Train parking lot staff to address violations, establish a presence by interacting with fans, and intervene immediately when disturbances take place.
  6. Install high-resolution security cameras.
  7. Meet prior to the event with security officials, law enforcement and facility management to discuss potential issues and debrief following the event.
  8. Ensure that parking lot staff members are all on the same page about who has authority, the chain of command, and proper communication channels and procedures.
  9. Inform fans of safety procedures using signs, the public address system, and fliers.

A facility won’t be liable for unanticipated third-party criminal acts. But if an incident does take place, the facility has a duty to take precautions against future occurrences.  Not doing so can mean significant liability.


Source: Gil Fried. “How Safe are Parking Facilities Near Sporting Events?”rel=nofollowFrom Gym to Jury. Vol. 26. No. 4.

Outdoor Risks: Tips For Surviving Wildlife Encounters

When enjoying outdoor sports and recreation activities, such as hiking, rock climbing, camping and hunting, most people know to follow the basic safety precautions: let someone know where you’ll be, carry enough water, pack first-aid supplies – you know the drill. But all too often outdoor lovers forget they’re invading the territory of creatures that aren’t anticipating or wanting human visitors. And while spotting wildlife can be an enjoyable experience, encountering animals that feel threatened or are protecting their young can be quite dangerous

Below are tips on how to respond if you encounter some of the more common and potentially ferocious animals.

  • Bears typically avoid humans, but if they perceive a danger to their young they can attack immediately. It’s never advisable to scream or run if an attack appears imminent. It’s best to speak in a monotone and slowly back away without making any sudden moves. If that fails, your best option is to drop face down into the fetal position and keep your throat, neck and face covered. Bears usually go right for the jugular or torso to expose vital organs, so keeping those areas covered is your only defense.
  • Wolves nearly always travel in packs made up of an alpha male and several omega males, the latter being the ones you’ll be most likely to come up against. Never run from a wolf or pack of wolves – chasing is an instinct of all canines. Wolves are easily intimidated by a show of dominance, so stand your ground and wave your arms or a long object, such as a stick or rifle, to make yourself appear as large as possible. Yelling and throwing objects while doing this will probably scare them off.

However, if directly attacked by a wolf, the best thing to do is wrestle it into a headlock, putting it in a chokehold. Once the wolf realizes you’re the alpha dog, it will likely give up the fight and run off along with the omega wolves. You’ll more than likely suffer some injuries, but many people have survived using this technique.

  • Coyotes also travel in packs led by an alpha member. Coyotes are quite a bit smaller than wolves, but don’t let that give you false sense of security.

Coyote attacksAs with wolves, intimidation is your best weapon against a pack of coyotes. Rather than run, stand your ground, making yourself appear as large as possible while yelling and making motions of aggression.  Attack by the alpha male is a rare occurrence, but fighting him into a chokehold will prove you’re dominant and the whole pack will likely run off.

  • Bird attacks are rare, and they don’t occur as depicted in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. However, flocks of crows, ducks and geese can attack, and individual swans and geese can also exhibit aggressive behavior when provoked or threatened.

The best defense is to use an article of clothing to protect your face and eyes and find shelter. Most birds instinctively fly away, but can attack and cause significant damage. Birds will attack in flight from all different directions, which leaves you no option but to get yourself to shelter immediately.

Larger birds, such as geese and swans, can be quite intimidating when threatened, and their bites can cause injuries. As tempting as it might be, do not turn and run and don’t yell or be aggressive. Instead, stay facing the bird and slowly back away, even if it follows you. These birds are territorial and will usually relax once you no longer pose a threat to the area.

  • Raccoons can be very vicious when provoked or their territory is invaded. A rabid raccoon will also likely be aggressive. If attacked by one or more raccoons, never turn your back. Back off while facing them so they won’t chase you. Yelling and making loud noises will intimidate them, but always maintain eye contact. Racoons are cunning and will take the slightest opportunity to attack.  If you are bitten or jumped on, it’s important to stay on your feet to minimize the attack and prevent bites to the face and neck.

Source: Alden Morris. “Defending Against Wild Packs of Animals,” www.survivallife.com

Ensuring Security at Special Events

Tips for planning and executing event security

The security staff you see at sporting events, festivals, concerts and other special events didn’t just show up 30 minutes before the gates opened. The event hosts did a lot of planning long before the event to ensure the safety and security of the participants and guests. If you’re organization is planning a special event that requires security, here are some tips when hiring a security firm that can help make your special event run as smoothly as possible.

You get what you pay for

Your budget is obviously an important component in planning your event. However, different types of events require different levels of training and skills from the security team. Some security firms specialize in high-end security that includes highly trained, retired law enforcement and/or military personnel. Other companies may hire individuals with little training but who may appear threatening due to their size  (think nightclub bouncer). And there’s everything in between.

Sporting events can give rise to heated confrontations among spectators, sometimes resulting in physical fights. Alcoholic beverages being served can also give rise to rowdy behavior. In such cases, you want individuals trained to diffuse the situation and maintain peace, not escalate things. It’s also important that your security staff know when it’s time to call in local law enforcement before things get out of control.

It’s critical that no matter what level of security firm you hire that it be licensed, bonded and insured. In the event of a security incident, you want to transfer the risk of damage or injury to the security firm. If you don’t, your organization and anyone involved in the planning can be held liable if allegations are made of inadequate security or personal injury by one of the security staff.

It’s all in the planning

You can’t expect your security team to arrive at the event 30 minutes before your event begins and get a brief rundown of what’s expected of them. Security for any size event takes pre-planning, typically months or even a year in advance.

At your first planning meeting, the security company should review with you details about who will be attending (i.e. participant and spectator demographics), hours of operation and expected busiest times, alcohol permits, vendors, parking arrangements and much more. These details determine the number of security staff required for the job and strategic placement of staff throughout the event  

Special Events InsuranceIt’s important that your security firm is familiar with your local law enforcement agency, your venue, and the surrounding area of your event. It’s important to note that you may, depending on the type of event, be required to submit a security plan to your town or city in order to obtain a permit. Festivals/concerts in public parks and road races are examples of events that may require permits. Large events like these often need traffic control. Your security team may need to meet in advance with law enforcement to go over how public parking and traffic flow will be handled during the event.

Outdoor events always need a contingency plan in case of bad weather. Your Plan B should be discussed in detail with the security firm long before it goes into action.

Don’t forget to inform the security firm of any specific concerns you may have during the planning meeting. These could be issues such as terrorism, gang activity, or heated competitions between rival sports teams.

Financial planning

This isn’t about your budget, but about keeping your funds secure. If you’re charging an entry fee or selling food, beverages and souvenirs, that money is at risk for being stolen. At your planning meeting ask if security staff can periodically collect funds from concessions or gatekeepers for safekeeping in a designated area under lock and key. Sadly, the chances of a guest stealing the money are much lower than those of your own staff and volunteers pocketing easily accessible cash.

Dealing with accidents and questions

Injuries and illness can occur anywhere to anyone. Sporting events in particular are high risk for injuries. Some security firms supply EMTs so be sure to ask. Location of the medical tent and plans for ambulance access should be discussed at your planning meeting as well.

It’s a good idea to set up a guest services area and have event staff and volunteers all wearing matching shirts, preferably with “Event Staff” printed on the back. Your security team should be aware ahead of the event of who is on staff and where guests can be pointed to in order to get assistance.

After the crowd goes home

It’s recommended, and usually welcomed by your security firm, that you have a post-event meeting to review what worked well and what didn’t, and discuss any problems that may have occurred that nobody thought about in advance. Your security company wants your business and you don’t want to have to shop around for another company for your next event. A review of this type goes a long way in building a strong working relationship.


Source: Jeff Croissette. “Effective Planning for Event Security.” www.sportsdestinations.com. 26 Sept. 2016.