The need for risk assessment in social sporting activities

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The Claimant, Mr Blair Ford, was at the time of the accident a teacher at Wimington Enterprise College. He was one of 5 staff who took 40 pupils on a residential adventure activity course which was operated by the Defendant, CRS Adventures.

At the conclusion of the course CRS had arranged a fun evening event they called the Mini Olympics.  The activities were of a type to be expected at a school fete and included a three legged race, a sack race, a tug of war and welly wanging.  Mr Blair Ford's accident occurred during the welly wanging.

It was his case that he was asked by the staff of CRS to throw the welly adopting a method which was unsafe. He pleaded that CRS owed him a duty to exercise reasonable skill and care in the conduct of their activities and that they had failed to do so by failing to carry out any adequate assessment of risks. Had they done so, the method of throw would have been changed.

Blair Ford had thrown the welly by bending over and throwing it backwards between his legs. In doing so his body rotated forward and his head hit the ground. He rolled over onto his back and he could not move. As a result he was rendered a permanent tetraplegic.

It was the Defendants' case that this was a tragic but freak accident for which no blame could be attached. They submitted that the accident had been risk assessed in a reasonable way and that this particular activity was subject to a dynamic risk assessment. They said that the accident was a chance event that could not have been foreseen.

Mr Justice Globe found in favour of the Defendants. He accepted that a dynamic risk assessment was appropriate in the circumstances and no formal risk assessment was required and that the accident was tragic but not foreseeable.

Ruth Johnson

Solicitor - Personal Injury team

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