The best defence against spectator injury

commercial flooring resin the-best-defence-against-spectator-injuryDegafloor, a flooring specialist with significant expertise in the sports industry, is urging safety officers at sports grounds to review their stadia flooring after a spate of slips, trips and falls that have resulted in costly litigation against clubs.

Resin flooring supplier Degafloor and their installation partner, The National Flooring Company Ltd, have combined their expertise to create an unbeatable package for the sports industry after identifying and resolving flooring problems for a number of top sports clubs.

Recent research has shown that around 50% of all reported accidents at sports grounds are caused by slips, trips and falls, many of which can be directly attributed to unsuitable flooring. These shocking statistics also suggest that as many as 95% of major slips result in broken bones, creating a major headache for all operators of sporting venues.

Volume of footfall and wet weather conditions have long been known to contribute to slippery flooring within stadiums – particularly in older stands with concrete walkways – and in an increasingly litigious society, clubs are becoming more and more aware of the potential risks and are turning to companies such as National Flooring and Degafloor to provide an efficient, cost-effective and durable solution.

Despite the obvious risks, there is still a distinct lack of advice about suitable flooring solutions designed to minimise risk to spectators. But Peterborough-based National Flooring and Degafloor are advising safety officers at all sports venues – both indoor and outdoor – to talk to them now before it’s too late.

Over the past ten years many sports venues throughout Europe have either improved or created plans to improve their facilities and spectator safety. The drive to improve facilities is particularly marked in the redevelopment of football grounds in the 1990s following the publication of the Taylor report, yet flooring on terracing, steps and public concourses is still a grave concern, with a number of incidents reported each year.

Even in the modern era of all-seater sports stadia, the high volume of spectator traffic continues to cause the deterioration of public walkways, resulting in slippery surfaces. Whilst the problem of persistent standing has also led to a number of slip related incidents.

The Taylor Report (1990) and modern ground regulations identify short term standing – when spectators are entering or leaving the ground, or movements during spectator excitement – as “high risk” and particularly likely to cause spectators to slip, trip and injure themselves.

Whilst realistically, these risks will never be wholly eliminated, both National Flooring and Degafloor believe that stadia management should implement whatever physical measures they can to reduce the risks to an acceptable level. And that may involve the installation of specially created slip resistant flooring solutions such as Degafloor FB.

Meanwhile another problem has been the recent rise in the number of spectators standing in radial gangways. Evidence suggests that these supporters are most at risk of falling or slipping as other spectators push their way through either to get to the seating areas or the public concourses. This problem has been particularly prevalent on older, worn concrete steps.

Over the last three years, Top football clubs Celtic, Bolton Wanderers, Leeds United and Leicester City have all acted to improve safety by appointing National Flooring to install the Degafloor FB system.

All of these clubs had found their previous flooring unsuitable due to the slippery nature of old and worn surfaces, so National Flooring was called in to provide advice and to install a bespoke solution. The Degafloor FB solution chosen provides the grip, durability and visibility required to meet the latest building regulations and safety legislation, whilst even team colours have been incorporated into the finished floor surface!

At Parkhead, home of Scottish champions Celtic FC, problems had occurred after contractors applied a floor paint to steps making them slippery. National Flooring removed the paint and applied Degafloor FB in a bid to solve the problem. And since the initial application throughout almost one third of Parkhead three years ago not one case of an accident has been encountered in the treated areas.

Coca-Cola Championship club Leicester City has also made use of National Flooring’s vast expertise after the south stand concourse flooring at the Walkers Stadium, which had previously been finished in power floated concrete, had become slippery. On match days and especially in the wet, the volume of supporter footfall was creating concerns over potential accident and injury. To resolve these concerns, National Flooring specified and installed the Degafloor FB resin flooring system so supporters entering the turnstiles would be able to access the seating areas safely .

National Flooring’s commercial director James Wright said: “Sports arenas cannot afford to take any risks when it comes to spectator safety so we are delighted to be working with so many major clubs to help them improve safety at their stadia. The feedback has been really positive from spectators and management alike whilst the safety record speaks for itself. We are looking forward to working with many more in the future.”

James reports that whilst it has so far mainly been football clubs who have had the capacity to review their flooring requirements, other sporting venues have begun to show interest in improving floor finishes with spectator safety being the main driver.

That is in part due to the Safer Sports Grounds Programme (SSG), a lottery funded scheme available for the provision of ground safety improvements for spectators at rugby union, rugby league and cricket grounds. This includes works to improve spectator safety, the provision of better access to the stadium and safer terracing.

James concluded: “The problem of slip, trip and fall related incidents at sports grounds is by no means unique to football. We are now beginning to talk to a number of rugby clubs, cricket grounds and other top facilities with a view to them upgrading their existing flooring solutions.

“Legislation is constantly changing and it’s only a matter of time before the improvement of public walkways, concourses and terraces becomes law. Despite that, our advice is to act now to avoid potential expensive lawsuits.”