Tag Archives: regulations

Would OSHA “Punt” on Inspecting an NFL Team?

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt of a piece written by Travis W. Vance, of Fisher & Phillips LLP, from the November issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter)

The tragedy this August that claimed the life of one worker and injured another during construction of the new $1.1B Minnesota Vikings football stadium reminded us that serious accidents can happen at any site no matter the size or cost. As an avid football fan and OSHA lawyer, and with football season just getting started, it also got me thinking about workplace safety issues occurring at professional football stadiums on Sunday afternoons.

Could (and would) OSHA actually inspect the “workplace” of a professional football team? 1

This question is intriguing for a variety of reasons. It involves sports, which is always fun. And it addresses safety, which is important. The answer is more complicated than you might imagine.

Obviously, there are no OSHA regulations specifically addressing the on-field hazards of professional football. Believe it or not, the OSH Act does not include a subpart entitled “professional sports.”

If OSHA cited an NFL team for on-field safety hazards taking place during a game, it would have to resort to the general duty clause, which mandates generically that employers provide a workplace free of recognized hazards. Because there is no standard on point, OSHA has a heightened burden of proof. In addition to identifying a hazard, it must also provide a feasible abatement when citing under this clause.

A general duty clause citation issued to an NFL team for an on-field safety hazard would read something like this:

Section 5(a)(1). General Duty Clause.

The Atlanta Falcons football team failed to provide its employees a workplace free from recognized hazards. On or about October 4, 2015, its quarterback suffered a concussion after being tackled during a game against the Carolina Panthers. This hazard could have been prevented by the following feasible abatements:

  1. Replace the current helmets worn by its players with those that include additional padding or other protective measures; or
  2. Institute new blocking systems to train its offensive linemen to better protect the quarterback.

Proposed Penalty: $7,000

Abatement Date: October 31, 2015

Sure, this is how OSHA “could” cite a pro sports team. But would an OSHA inspector actually visit mini-camp?

Probably not. OSHA’s September 12, 2008 standard interpretation letter strongly suggests that OSHA would punt on the issue. Pun intended.

In its 2008 interpretation, OSHA claimed (to read the rest of the article, subscribe to the reporter here: https://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

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GHSAA Limits Contact in Football in Nod to Concussion Prevention

The Georgia High School Athletic Association’s executive committee has unanimously approved rules that will limit full contact on the football field to 45 minutes per day and 135 minutes per week in the spring and preseason.

The limits are even more restrictive during during the regular season and post-season, where teams may only participate in full contact for 30 minutes per day and 90 minutes per week. In addition, they cannot have full contact over three consecutive days.

Each school must also keep a detailed daily practice plan. GHSAA members that violate the rules will be fined the first time, and banned from postseason play if it happens again.

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Safety ‘at the Heart’ of Football Quebec’s Action Plan

In an effort to “continually ensure the safe practise of sport,” Football Quebec has announced the creation of a working group on safety in football, as well as modifications to its safety regulations rulebook.

These new actions are in line with a myriad of new safety measures adopted over the last year. Those included the adoption of new game rules at the start of the 2014 season, new training standards for coaches related to safe tackling and head injuries and the creation of a full-time position focused on sport safety and development.

Five Experts To Examine the Major Issues in Quebec Football

This permanent and independent working group focused on football safety will study various possibilities in terms of sport safety practises and will make recommendations to the Federation’s Board of Directors.

Working Group participants have expertise in various areas of Quebec and Canadian football, and also bring to the table their own individual experience and knowledge:

–         Tim Fleiszer, former professional player in the Canadian National Football League, player agent, and Director of the Canadian Branch of the Sport Legacy Institute – an international research group recognized for its scientific contributions to concussion research in sport.

–         Patrick Gendron, Chief Athletic Therapist of the Université de Montréal Carabins and member of the Conseil de médecine du sport du Québec (CMSQ).

–         Étienne Boulay, former professional player in the Canadian National Football League.

–         Roland Grand’Maison, Lawyer specialized in sport, former Director of Collegiate Programs with Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ).

–         Bernard Daigneault, former referee and Provincial Assignments Supervisor, Administrator,Quebec Provincial Football Officials Association (QPFOA).

Modifications To Safety Regulations

The newly formed working group has already had its first meeting to study current Federation safety regulations rulebook, and issued preliminary proposals to the Board of Directors as of March 11, 2015. The following modifications were ratified:

1)      Currently in Quebec, a First Aid Attendant has to be present during games and contact-training. The Board of Directors has adopted a new measure specifying that during games, each team must have its own First Aid Attendant, and that this individual can’t be part of the coaching staff of either team.

2)     As of immediately, all teams must be equipped with a recognized return-to-play protocol for athletes following concussions. The Federation also recommends the protocol approved by the Corporation des thérapeutes du sport du Québec (CTSQ).

3)     As of August 15, 2016, during all games and contact training, all football teams in Quebec must have in attendance an individual having successfully taken (or having equivalent skills approved by the Federation) the newly developed “Football First-Aid” (Secourisme Football) certification – developed in partnership with the Red Cross, the Corporation des thérapeutes du sport du Québec, and the Conseil de médecine du sport du Québec (CMSQ).

This specialized training comprises elements related to: first-aid specific to the sport of football; current identification standards for concussions and return-to-play protocol; football equipment removal in order to facilitate ambulance / medical assistance.

Football Quebec has also established a Football First-Aid (Secourisme Football) program training schedule that is currently available for viewing and registration on the Federation’s website at www.footballquebec.com.

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