[Press and Publications] Moving the Goalposts [health and safety]



December 2000

No 221

A University of Leicester sports expert has warned of the dangers posed by portable football goalposts through a new set of national health and safety guidelines.

Colin Hide, Sports and Recreation Manager at the University of Leicester is also a member of the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management Sports Service Panel and has, through this capacity, prepared a factsheet on the subject. It has also been endorsed by the F.A.

Colin said: “Most modern sports facilities are multi-use and provide accommodation to allow a variety of games to be played within one space. Such facilities necessarily require game goals to be portable. Consequently there are thousands of portable goals in use in the U.K. that are erected and dismantled several times a day. The ease with which goals can be erected and dismantled are important considerations when purchasing these items.

“There are, however important safety considerations connected with their specification and use. Not least is the requirement for them to be securely anchored whilst in use and when being stored.

“Tragically, in the last 13 years 9 youngsters have been killed by portable soccer goals falling on them throughout the UK”.

Colin said that it is not only soccer that uses free standing goals. Similar goals can be purchased for Hockey, Basketball, Netball, Tennis, Rugby and Volleyball.

“Whilst most of the incidents have been connected with the use of soccer goals, the need to secure all types of free standing goals should be remembered,” he said.

Colin said dangers were heightened by the fact kick-about games often occur near goal-mouths and youngsters will often use unsuitable goals, such as home made structures, which do not have in-built safety features - and have been the cause of the majority of the fatal and serious accidents.

Colin said: “Use, abuse and misuse of goals must be discouraged - but in reality, everyone has probably swung on a crossbar as a child thus the need for them to be securely anchored is self-evident.”

Both the Football Association and Health & Safety Executive have issued directives advising operators that all free standing goals should be anchored at all times. There is now a British Standard for the full-sized, fixed and socketed soccer goal.

Colin calls for:

  • Regular maintenance on goals to ensure that they are fit for their purpose;
  • A risk assessment of their use and storage and a review of this assessment on a regular basis;
  • Purchasing goals from a reputable supplier. (It is interesting to note that most of the fatalities have been caused by home-made or altered goals toppling over.)
  • Only purchasing goals that conform to a British Standard (if applicable);
  • Good signage in and around the facility indicating goals must be secured before games commence;
  • Inclusion on booking forms, league rules and confirmation letters a requirement for users to check that games goals are secured before play commences;
  • Staff training upon the correct method of erection, dismantling and storage of these items;
  • Training users to secure goals themselves and the correct method of storage once games have been completed;
  • Staff “switch on” when game goals are moved to different areas for use.
  • Further information pertinent to this issue may be obtained from:

  • Health & Safety Executive, Web Site: www.hse.gov.uk
  • HSE Books, Web Site: www.hsebooks.co.uk
  • The Football Association, Web Site: www.the-fa.org
  • Note to newsdesk: For more information, please contact Colin Hide on (0116) 271 9144, Mobile 0973 504345.


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    Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
    Last updated: 10 January 2001 16:45
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