Risk management and safety

An association should assess any risks associated with its activities and take steps to reduce and manage these risks.  This chapter outlines the process for managing risks, options for insurance and the responsibilities to provide safe and healthy environments for employees, volunteers and sporting participants.

Key Points

  • All associations should identify and take steps to reduce exposure to risk.
  • There are various types of insurance cover that an association may require.
  • Some insurance is compulsory for associations (eg workers' compensation for employees).
  • There are a range of specific obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Regulations (the OSH Laws).
  • Sporting and recreation clubs must take reasonable steps to protect participants, coaches, referees and spectators from foreseeable harm.

Exclusions

Exclusions in insurance policies are those events, occurrences or types of damage or loss not covered by a policy.  Exclusions can vary from one insurance policy to another. An incorporated association should pay special attention to any exclusions when considering the type and extent of cover. 

Some examples of common exclusions are:

  • workers' compensation and professional indemnity cover may not extend to volunteers;
  • the loss of cash kept on premises may not be covered;
  • items valued over a certain amount may not be covered; and
  • the use of private cars for work purposes may not be covered under the owner's private car insurance.

Risk management

 ‘Risk management’ is a formal and structured process of identifying and managing risk.  It involves assessing and then actively managing an organisation’s potential exposure to loss, damage or litigation. Effective practical strategies for reducing risk, such as safety protocols and security devices, can work together with insurance to reduce risk exposure. 

Basic risk management steps

  1. Identify each risk with a thorough analysis of the association's operations, activities and business. 
  2. The association needs to decide how to manage risks by determining the likelihood of a risk occurring against the potential consequences.  For example, an association may choose to remove the risk by not continuing with a particular activity, or determine that existing control is satisfactory as the impact would be very minor and it is extremely unlikely to occur.
  3. Treat risks by considering any existing risk control measures (eg insurance, security alarm, warning signs), deciding whether the existing measures are adequate and considering any additional measures that may be required.
  4. Monitor and review the process on a regular basis.  It is important to regularly review if there has been any change in the association's risk position and, if necessary, repeat and review the process set out above.

Reasons for obtaining insurance

Becoming incorporated does not mean an association is automatically protected from exposure to risk. There are various reasons to obtain insurance:

  • compulsory insurance requirements imposed by law (e.g. worker compensation);
  • the association may have property or other assets that should also be insured;
  • the association organises or participates in activities that require suitable insurance (e.g. sporting activities) or
  • members, executives, staff and volunteers may need to be insured against certain risks or personal liability that may arise as a result of their role in the association.

Types of insurance

The following are common types of insurance that may be relevant to associations.

  • Professional indemnity - covers claims in respect of a breach of duty.
  • Portable/ valuable items - covers loss of specified items.
  • Theft - to cover theft of contents, cash and stock.
  • Events insurance - covers an event against loss (e.g. cancellation due to bad weather).
  • Workers' compensation - covers employees for work related injuries.
  • Public liability insurance - covers claims by third parties; e.g. negligence
  • Directors’ and officers’ liability- covers the directors and officers against legal liability.
  • Volunteer insurance - covers volunteers for personal injury and public liability.
  • Building insurance - covers against events such as fire, storm and vandalism.

Compulsory insurance

Some insurance cover is compulsory under applicable laws. For example, it is compulsory for an incorporated association that employs staff to have workers' compensation insurance. An association should consult a qualified adviser (such as an insurance broker or lawyer) to determine its compulsory insurance obligations.

Deciding on insurance

An association should consider the cost of any non-compulsory insurance against the risks covered by that insurance in the context of the activities carried out by the association. The committee may wish to engage a qualified broker to assist it to identify suitable insurance cover.  A review of the association’s activities and risks should be conducted on a regular basis to assess whether its existing insurance program provides appropriate cover.

Exclusions

Exclusions in insurance policies are those events, occurrences or types of damage or loss not covered by a policy. For example:

  • workers' compensation and professional indemnity cover may not extend to volunteers;
  • the loss of cash kept on premises may not be covered;
  • items valued over a certain amount may not be covered; and
  • the use of private cars for work purposes may not be covered under the owner's private car insurance.

Exclusions can vary between policies and an association should pay special attention to any exclusions when considering the type and extent of cover. 

Hints when considering insurance and risks

  • Obtain professional advice and assistance from a qualified insurance broker.
  • Investigate group insurance schemes, which may reduce premium costs.
  • Regularly check insurance cover and policies to ensure that you are not under‑insured or over-insured.
  • Consolidate policies where possible – packaged insurance may be more cost effective than individual cover.
  • Undertake regular risk management to identify, assess and manage risks.
  • Ensure that all office bearers, committee members, management and staff are aware of their legal responsibilities.
  • Ensure that relevant policies and procedures concerning risks (e.g. professional standards and health and safety) are developed, implemented and maintained.

Occupational safety and health

Associations generally owe an obligation to provide and maintain a safe, healthy working environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and its associated Regulations (collectively referred to as the OSH Laws) sets out the requirements for providing a safe and healthy work environment. It is important for associations to take note of the rights and duties in the OSH Laws, and comply with the relevant provisions concerning safety requirements.

Duties of employers

In addition to a general duty to provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment, under the OSH Laws, employers must so far as is practicable:

  • provide and maintain workplaces, equipment and systems of work so that employees are not exposed to hazards;
  • provide necessary information, instruction, training and supervision so employees can perform their work safely;
  • consult and cooperate with safety and health representatives and other employees on occupational safety and health matters;
  • provide employees with adequate personal protective clothing and safety equipment, where required; and
  • immediately notify the WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner if an employee at a workplace suffers an injury that results in death, or an injury such as a fractured skull, spine or bones, some amputations and any injury that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, is likely to prevent the employee from being able to work within ten days of when the injury occurred).  Information about this process is available from the Worksafe website.

Under the OSH Laws, associations may also have obligations to people who are not employees such as volunteers and visitors.

Rights and duties of employees and contractors (self-employed people)

Employees and contractors have a responsibility under the OSH Laws to take reasonable care to ensure their own safety and health at work, and to avoid adversely affecting the safety and health of others. Employees must:

  • cooperate with their employer to ensure that the workplace is safe and healthy;
  • comply with safety and health procedures and guidelines provided by their employer;
  • use any personal protective equipment provided by the employer as instructed; and
  • report hazards and injuries to their employer.

Employees also have rights under the OSH Laws including:

  • the ability to request safety and health representatives at the workplace. (Refer to the guidance note, Formal Consultative Processes at the Workplace);
  • the right to receive adequate information, instruction, training and supervision so as to be able to work safely;
  • the right to be consulted about safety and health at the workplace; and
  • the right to refuse to undertake work if they have reasonable grounds to believe that doing so involves a risk of imminent and serious injury or harm to health.

WorkSafe

The WorkSafe division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety administers the OSH Laws and can provide further information. WorkSafe can investigate breaches under the OSH Laws. Inspectors have broad powers to visit and inspect workplaces and it is an offence to interfere in the performance of an inspector's functions.

Worksafe

Telephone 1300 307 877 

24 hour serious incident and fatality reporting line: 1800 678 198

Website www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/worksafe

Reporting accidents

All accidents and near misses should be reported in writing to the employer (the association) as soon as possible. The report should set out all the relevant details of the accident.

The WorkSafe Commissioner must be notified of all work related injuries that result in a death or fracture of the skull, spine, pelvis, certain bones in the arm or the leg, some types of amputations, the loss of sight in an eye or an injury that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, is likely to prevent the employee from being able to work within ten days of when the injury occurred. Further information is available from the WorkSafe website.

Workers' compensation

In Western Australia, all workers must be covered by a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy. The definition of a ‘worker’ is broad and extends to any ‘contract of service’ or ‘contract for service’ between a worker and employer. If an association is unsure whether its staff are classified as ‘workers’ or ‘volunteers,’ it should contact its insurer or insurance broker to confirm the organisation has the right coverage.

WorkCover WA is the government agency responsible for overseeing and regulating the workers’ compensation and injury management scheme in WA. For more information visit the WorkCover WA website or telephone 1300 570 937.

Safety in sport

Many sports and recreational activities have inherent risks and dangers.  It is inevitable that injuries amongst participants will occur.  Negligence can lead to participants, officials, or the association being held liable (responsible) for conduct that causes harm to another person.  

Participants

Participants are generally taken to have voluntarily accepted the risks inherent in a particular sport.  This includes the risk of injury that might arise from minor or expected breaches of the playing rules; however participants are expected to behave reasonably.  If the person's behaviour falls below the standard required, the person may be said to be negligent.  

Coaches and referees

Coaches and referees owe a duty of care to participants in sports activities.  They are expected to do what a reasonably competent coach or referee would do in that position including providing reasonable supervision and ensuring that participants are properly instructed in the rules of the activity and safety requirements.  

Spectators

Spectators and bystanders are also exposed to risks at sporting events.  Spectators and bystanders could be injured in a variety of ways such as by stray balls, racing cars leaving the track and crashing into the spectator area, faulty equipment, grandstands collapsing and unruly behaviour.

A sports association, officials and participants have a duty to take reasonable care not to injure or cause injury to spectators or bystanders. A sporting association may be held liable for injuries to spectators if they failed to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable risks.  

Effect of the Civil Liability Act 2002

In Western Australia, the Civil Liability Act 2002 (CLA) limits liability for injury resulting from recreational activities.  A person is not liable for harm occurring as a result of an inherent risk, such as something that cannot be avoided by exercising reasonable care and skill. 

If a risk is obvious, there is no duty to warn a person of the obvious risk.  For example boxers can expect to get punched. However, a person will not avoid liability if the injured person had specifically asked for advice about the risks.

Insurance and waivers

Sporting groups can obtain insurance specifically designed to cover sports injuries, liabilities and events. Participants, members and officials should be informed of the nature and extent of the insurance cover and participants should be advised to have their own health cover.

It is not uncommon for sporting associations to require members to sign a waiver that indemnifies the association and its officials from liability.  Waivers have limited value and in the case of children, parents may not sign away children's rights against negligent acts.    

Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries - Sport and Recreation

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries - Sport and Recreation has a useful website that provides information about managing sport and recreation clubs.

Postal address: PO Box 8349 Perth Business Centre WA 6849
Telephone: (08) 9492 9700
Email: www.dsr.wa.gov.au/contact
Website: www.dsr.wa.gov.au