Critical Incident Management in Sport

Critical Incident Management in Sport         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Chris Hume and Christine May, Senior Research Consultants, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia 
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Catherine Ordway, Professor of Practice (Sport Management), La Trobe University (January 2017)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 4 October 2017
Please refer to the Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer page for
more information concerning this content.

Community Sport Coaching
Sport Australia


Critical incidents in sporting situations are typically unpredictable events with the potential to cause major injuries, loss of life, or other catastrophic consequences for athletes, sports personnel, and/or their organisations.

The effective management of such occurrences should form part of an organisation's broader risk management strategy which is an integral part of good management practice.  

Key Messages 


Risk is an element that all sporting organisations, no matter how big or small, must understand.


Unpredictable events can occur in the sporting environment. However, not all incidents are critical, nor are all critical incidents of the same severity.


Sporting organisations must understand the nature of risk and take appropriate steps to manage it within their respective domains.

Critical incident management in sport cannot be fully understood without first understanding the broader issue of risk management. 'Risk management' is defined in the Australian/New Zealand International Standard, Risk management – principles and guidelines [AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 (PDF PDF document - 178 KB)], as "coordinated activities to direct and control an organisation with regard to risk".

Risk is often expressed in terms of a combination of the consequences of an event (including changes in circumstances) and the associated likelihood of occurrence.

The Australian Sport Commission’s Sports Governance Principles clearly outline the requirement for sport organisation boards to take responsibility for risk management practices:

Principle 3.4: That the board should have in place an effective risk management strategy and process. This will require the board to take actions to identify key risks facing the organisation and ensure that risk management strategies are developed and actioned. The risk management system should comply with the Australian/New Zealand Risk Management Standard AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009. 

Management of risk within sport is no different to managing risk for any other sector. The principles and processes described in the Risk Management Standard AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 apply and can be used to develop a risk management framework for sports organisations. The challenge is understanding the potential risks that need to be addressed. 

Typically, when risk management is referred to in corporate or government sectors, the focus is on categories of risk for the individual organisation. Common organisational risk categories include: finance; reputation; health & safety; governance; business processes and systems; legal; and culture. In this context there are a wide variety of risk management materials and resources available which are equally relevant to sporting organisations.

Within the sport context however, there are some additional common risk contexts that need to be considered, these include: 

Sport Integrity

Integrity in sport is largely associated with the concepts of fair play; respect for the game; sportsmanship; positive values of personal  responsibility; inclusive practice; and honesty in adhering to rules. Sport integrity also includes topics such as: drugs in sportchild protectionethical sponsorship and advertising, sexuality and gender perspectives, and match-fixing and illegal sports betting

Hosting Events and Major Events

Whether hosting a local sports tournament or a major international event, risk management is an important part of event planning.  

International & Inter-State Event Participation

It is common for athletes, officials, and support staff to travel to participate in events. International events in particular have vastly different risk profiles compared to participating in local events. Sporting organisations should develop a Critical Incident Plan prior to embarking on international & inter-state events.

Sport and Terrorism 

The terrorist attack during the 1972 Munich Olympic Games signalled that sport could be a target for violent political or social extremism. Since that time a number of sporting events around the world have been targeted by terrorists and this has led to a greatly heightened focus on risk management and security planning.

For more information please refer to the Clearinghouse Sport and Terrorism topic.  

Once the organisation has identified potential areas of risk, through experience, research, and/or brainstorming, the next step is to create a risk register. The register includes the details of each identified risk; the potential impact for the organisation if it occurred; the likelihood of it occurring; a quick rating based on the impact and likelihood (is the risk extreme, major, medium or minor?); potential mitigation/control strategies; and how the risk will be monitored or reviewed. 

Example Risk Registers 

  • Sport NZ provides a comprehensive Risk Check List as part of their Enterprise Risk Management Resource which is a useful starting point for assessing potential organisational risks.  
  • Our Community provides general information on risk management for not-for-profit organisations and example checklists for different organisation types. 
  • Bright Hub Project Management provides some helpful information and a free Excel template. 

Completing a risk register is not only good practice for organisations but it also identifies potential critical incidents.

Critical incidents are events or situations that create a significant risk of substantial or serious harm to physical or mental health, safety, or well-being. Responding effectively when a critical incident occurs requires detailed advance planning. If an item in your risk register has been identified as 'extreme' it is likely to require a critical incident planning process to be completed.

Media coverage of critical incidents is often intense and the immediate and subsequent handling of the emergency can have major medical, psychological, and legal flow-on effects. While risk management and safety planning can identify and mitigate many hazards a well-designed Critical Incident Management Strategy and Plan are essential.

Effective emergency management relies on advance planning to achieve coordinated actions and designated responsibilities. Sport administrators, team managers, coaches, athletes, spectators, medical support staff, facility and event managers, as well as police and the media may all be involved in the response to a single critical incident. Critical incident planning involves:

  • Establishing clear roles for all personnel who will be part of the plan. Consider aspects such as the availability of equipment and currency of certifications.
  • Developing documented procedures, such as flow charts and check lists, that are readily available.
  • Effectively communicating the plan. Schedule practice sessions and create tools such as wallet cards or a mobile phone app so that all individuals involved understand and know the details of the plan.
  • Using templates to structure documented records of the incident for medical and legal purposes.
  • Planning for the post-emergency period. 
  • Reviewing the process following the immediate emergency.

Prevention Preparedness Response Recovery Framework (PPRR)

A common framework for managing emergencies or critical incidents is the 'Prevention Preparedness Response Recovery' or PPRR Framework. An example PPRR Framework from Hamish McLean's chapter, 'Crisis and issues management', in Jane Johnston and Mark Sheehan (eds.), Public Relations: Theory and Practice, 4th edition (2014) is shown below.


  • Issues Management - identifying, monitoring and resolving issues within the internal and external environment before they develop into a crisis.
  • Risk Communication - reducing harm from hazard with a focus on how people perceive the risks.


  • Crisis management planning - preparing for the worst-case scenario with agreed roles, procedures, and responsibilities.
  • Crisis management team - developing a cohesive management team to deal with crisis across the organisation.
  • Testing the team and crisis plan to expose vulnerabilities.


  • Communication principles - rapidly disseminating factual information to internal and external stakeholders across multiple platforms.
  • Leadership - visible leadership built on empathy, trust and collaboration to maintain stakeholder support.           


  • Learning - taking stock of what has happened and learning from the experience.
  • Rebuilding to a stronger position, including improved relationships with stakeholders and communication practices.

[Source: McLean, Hamish, 'Crisis and issues management', in Jane Johnston and Mark Sheehan (eds.), Public Relations: Theory and Practice, 4th edition.; Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin (2014), p.316-317].

As with risk management, critical incident management is more than just having a documented plan. It needs to be embedded into the processes and culture of the organisation, constantly reviewed, and improved.

Crises or critical incidents can be classed into four types: 

  1. Sudden - events that happen with little or no warning, such as athletes being seriously injured or killed, explosions, fires, natural disasters, or accidents.
  2. Emerging - when issues are poorly managed and develop into crises over time.
  3. Reputational - events that threaten the reputation of an organisation or sport.
  4. Bizarre or Unusual - events that come from unexpected circumstances and can often be dismissed or ignored by organisations.
[source: McLean, Hamish , 'Crisis and issues management', in Jane Johnston and Mark Sheehan (eds.), Public Relations: Theory and Practice, 4th edition.; Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, (2014)]

Not all incidents are critical, nor are all critical incidents of the same severity. Therefore, it is important that people within an organisation understand how issues and incidents are to be reported; who determines if they are critical; and what the response of the organisation should be. Having this understood, in place, and documented prior to an incident occurring, is the ideal position for an organisation. Two techniques to achieve this are having an issues management process and establishing incident categories or triggers.

Issues Management Process 

Organisations should have a standard process of registering and recording issues and incidents that occur from both a risk and critical incident perspective. It can be as basic as a dedicated email address and a process to ensure incidents are included in the risk register, including any mitigation actions taken. Capturing issues as they occur allows steps to be taken to minimise risks to the organisation and ensure a timely and appropriate response/action is taken. It also allows for the categorisation of those issues, which may be used for reporting purposes at a later point in time. Issue management is part of the wider context of an organisation’s risk management.

Once an issue or incident is logged, someone needs to be responsible for evaluating the issue and determining if it is critical or not, and what action to take. Importantly it needs to be remembered this could be at any time and any where. Critical incident categories or triggers allow the responsible incident manager to quickly determine if an incident is critical or not and what predefined steps need to be undertaken for the particular incident, including any process used to determine if a Critical Incident Management Team needs to be established or not. 

Incident Categories/Triggers 

A common approach is to pre-define categories or triggers that would classify an issue or risk as critical. These should be customised to the sport and to the organisation.

Below is an example set of Incident Categories or Triggers broken into three categories;

Category 1 - Death; serious injury; victim of a serious crime (rape, assault); act of terrorism/kidnapping; security incident requiring evacuation; natural disaster; financial impact potentially affecting solvency.

Category 2 - Significant injury requiring hospitalisation; significant injury that may end an athlete's career; witness to Category 1 incident; serious security incident; serious financial impact above 'x $ amount'; legal issue with serious risk to reputation; and serious member protection issues.

 Category 3 - Significant injury that may end an athlete's tournament; alleged positive drugs test; alleged perpetrator of crime; legal or other issue with significant risk to reputation; significant financial impact above 'x $ amount'; serious process or systems failure; and significant member protection issue.

[Source: Guide to Critical Incident Management, New South Wales Institute of Sport (2011)]

It is important that any set of incident categories or triggers are customised to suit the sport and activities of the organisations involved.

Sport has a wide variety of stakeholders, including athletes, officials, administrators, fans, event organisers, sponsors, donors, government, sport organisations, broadcasters, media, betting companies, venues, emergency services, and ticketing companies.

It is useful during the critical incident management planning process to undertake a Stakeholder Impact Analysis (SIA). An SIA identifies which stakeholders need to be communicated with first, their positions on this issue, the communication methods to be used, and the potential impact on the organisation.

Communication, both internal and external, is a key part of managing any critical incident or crisis. This is especially true in today’s connected world with social media and the ability to distribute news and information globally almost instantaneously.

McLean (2014) notes that “crisis communication aims to reduce uncertainty, maintain the support of stakeholders, protect the organisation’s reputation and work towards rebuilding the organisation to a stronger position than it was in before the crisis.” (p.333)             

A critical component in crisis communication is the timing of the organisation's response. It is suggested that within the first hour of an incident occurring the Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) should:

  • Verify information and details of the crisis.
  • Release an initial holding statement. Include what accurate information is available. Do not use “no comment” as this will create an information vacuum to be filled by other sources.
  • In the holding statement indicate a a time-frame for the next update.
  • Ensure key messages for priority stakeholders are developed and communicated.

Having a prepared list of priority stakeholders,  with a corresponding stakeholder impact analysis (SIA), and a template holding statement can significantly assist in responding quickly and effectively to a crisis.

[source: McLean, Hamish , 'Crisis and issues management', in Jane Johnston and Mark Sheehan (eds.), Public Relations: Theory and Practice, 4th edition.; Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, (2014)] 

An important consideration when planning for or facing a critical incident is the role that social media will likely play, both positively and negatively. Recent disaster events, in Australia and internationally, have demonstrated the importance of social media, not only in delivering vital information to the community during emergency events, but also in strengthening relationships between emergency services and communities. There is also an increasing awareness of the benefits of crowd sourcing information to gain critical intelligence on emergencies and natural disasters.

  • Social Media's Role in Crisis Management (PDF PDF document - 1.6 MB), Vivian Marinelli, Athletic Business, (December 2015). It is difficult these days to find someone not on some form of social media—especially during sports and entertainment events. The 2014 World Cup final holds the record for the most tweets per second with 9,667. The game took more than three hours to complete, accumulating more than 100 million tweets. 
  • The Use of Social Media in Crisis Communication, in The Changing Face of Strategic Crisis Management, OECD Reviews of Risk Management Policies, OECD Publishing, Paris (2015). Highlights how social media can support crisis communication. It identifies the challenges that arise from the use of social media and ways of dealing with these challenges. A framework for monitoring the development of social media practices amongst countries for crisis communication is proposed. This includes a three-step process that spans passive to dynamic use of social media. This chapter provides governments with a self-assessment tool that will enable them to monitor and track progress in the effective use of social media by emergency services or crisis managers.
  • The Good, Bad, and In-Between of Social Media In Crisis Situations, Lauren Zoltick, ISL, (October 2014). For better or for worse, social media has dramatically impacted the way we communicate and keep in touch with each other and the world at large. Also for better or for worse, it has given us the means to communicate more—and often more effectively—in crisis situations.
  • The Use of Social Media in Risk and Crisis Communication, Wendling, C., J. Radisch and S. Jacobzone, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 24, OECD Publishing, (2013). This report highlights the changing landscape of risk and crisis communications and in particular how social media can be a beneficial tool, but also create challenges for crisis managers. It explores different practices of risk and crisis communications experts related to the use of social media and proposes a framework for monitoring the development of practices among countries in the use of social media for risk and crisis communications. The three step process spans passive to dynamic use of social media, and provides a self-assessment tool to monitor and track progress in the uptake of effective use of social media by emergency services or crisis managers. 
  • The role of social media in crisis preparedness, response and recovery (PDF PDF document - 530 KB). Jason Christopher Chan, Vanguard, (2011?). The paper proposes a framework to enhance government use of social media for crisis management that encompasses the need for a mandate, differentiated guidelines and three key capabilities to be developed

For more information see the Clearinghouse Social Media & Sport topic. 

A key part of the Critical Incident Management process is creating and identifying a Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) or Crisis Management Team (CMT). This team has an important role not just during the response to the critical incident, but also during the preparation and recovery phases of a critical incident.

  • Developing Resiliency in an Emergency Response Team, Vivian Marinelli, Athletics Business, (1 November 2016). The Emergency Response Team (ERT) spends most of the time on the sidelines and is only activated if and when something goes wrong. Although always ready to respond to any type of crisis, the reality is that for the majority of the time, ERT personnel are responding to minor incidents. Yet when a disaster does occur, team members need to bring their A-game and respond with the least negative impact on themselves and the organisation. Easier said than done! 

In a typical corporate environment a CIMT would consist of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the head of each department. In a sport context CIMT members might also include people from outside the organisation, for example a NSO might include a sport psychologist from a State Institute/Academy of Sport or from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) on their CIMT.

A typical CIMT for a sport organisation should include the following roles and subject matter experts:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO); Medical Specialist; Psychologist; Media & Communications; Operations & Logistics; and Legal.

In designing a CIMT, it is important the roles and responsibilities are defined and documented in advance during the preparation stage. It is good practice to ensure you have a CIMT that can handle any critical incident. 

A Critical Incident Management Plan can overcome the intensifiers of a critical incident:

  1. Lack of time.
  2. Lack of factual information.
  3. Lack of resources.
  4. Intense media scrutiny and social media commentary.

A typical Critical Incident Management Plan includes the following;

  • Executive summary. An overview of the plan including the need for crisis awareness and effective response. It should be signed by the CEO demonstrating knowledge, support, and approval at the highest level.
  • Crisis and plan definitions. Define important terms in the document and specifically what constitutes a crisis for the organisation. Provide a list of examples of possible crises based on brainstorming done by the CIMT. 
  • Document control. The plan may include confidential or privileged information (such as phone numbers) and should only be made available to the individuals who need to access it (such as the CIMT team and anyone else involved in planning and risk management). Also ensure that the revision date and/or version number is clearly indicated so everyone knows they are using the current version.
  • Currency and testing. Ensure future revision dates and who is responsible for updating the plan are clearly stated. Include when and how the team and plan will be tested.
  • Notification. Ensure there are clear communication guidelines to indicate who activates the plan, how to notify team members of a crisis, and how team members will contact each other.
  • Stakeholder mapping. Based on the SIA identify and group key stakeholders into categories. Include name and contact information. Allocate specific team members responsibility for contacting stakeholders. Include when and how to do so. 
  • Crisis management team members. Include names, titles, responsibilities and contact details of all team members.
  • Crisis Management Hub. Although traditionally thought of as a physical room/resource where team members can meet and collaborate it is possible, with the growth of working remotely and interstate and overseas competitions, that not all CIMT members will be in the same physical location. The Crisis Management Hub therefore may be a physical and/or virtual space for the team to share thoughts/resources. Include location and alternative location, access information and list of necessary resources.
  • Communication principles, channels and collateral information. The agreed communication principles and objectives should identify who can authorise the release of information and the media spokesperson. Additionally it should contain draft media and stakeholder 'holding' statements; media interview guide; and resources and contact lists for traditional and social media (i.e. key influencers). Additional contact/access information including ICT support; corporate website and social media channel access details (e.g. Twitter, Facebook); and media monitoring methods/services. If there is a central media centre include the location. 
  • Other contact resources. Include contact details for emergency services, local authorities, competition organisers and list useful website addresses.
  • Crisis recovery. How the organisation is going to move forward once the immediate crisis is over. Consider reputation management, reviewing what worked/didn't work and specify crisis team member's specific roles in the process. 

[Source: McLean, Hamish (2014), 'Crisis and issues management', in Jane Johnston and Mark Sheehan (eds.), Public Relations: Theory and Practice, 4th edition.; Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin]. 

  • Critical incident management (PDF PDF document - 68 KB), Ruth Anderson, Sports Coach, vol. 29, no.1, (2006). Guidelines to planning a well-prepared response for the management and recovery from a critical incident. Covers developing a plan, preparing for travel, roles of the critical incident management team, recovery from a critical incident. Includes a critical incident checklist covering pre-travel arrangements, handling the critical incident and post-incident tasks.
  • The emergency action plan, Sports Medicine Australia. Officiating Australia vol. 3 no. 1, (July 2003). Lists all the items which should be included in a sound, well-understood emergency plan which outlines the roles and responsibilities in an emergency situation. 
  • Medical emergency planning guide, Sports Medicine Australia (2015). This resource takes clubs through a simple planning exercise to develop a straightforward, effective medical emergency action sheet. The action sheet, checklist, and template can be customised for individual sporting clubs.

When major events occur that threaten lives or public safety, such as the bomb explosion at the site of the 2013 Boston Marathon, the sporting venue becomes a crime scene. Law enforcement personnel will take control of the scene and generally follow a four stage approach. Throughout this process the primary concern is to provide medical treatment and evacuation of injured persons; ensure the safety of persons at the site; gather evidence that may facilitate future criminal prosecution; and secure the site so that it does not become contaminated until after forensic tests are conducted and evidence collected.

  1. First Stage Response. The immediate response is to care for injured persons and evacuate them from the scene. The law enforcement personnel at the scene must assess the situation, identify emergency services required, and deploy resources. Simultaneously those in control of the scene will look for safety concerns and secure evidence. The paramount concern during the first stage response is for the safety of all concerned, both persons affected by the event and those providing assistance.
  2. Preliminary Scene Investigation Stage. An ‘incident commander’ will take charge of the scene and control any press briefings and coordinate investigators and emergency service personnel. A chain of custody for material evidence is established and procedures are put in place to control the movement of persons in/out of the established parameter. Investigators will conduct a second safety audit of the scene and identify additional resources required. A list of victims and witnesses is collated and individual accounts of the incident are documented.
  3. Scene Documentation Stage. As the law enforcement personnel gain control of the scene they will begin to document everything they and persons on the scene have seen or heard. The investigators will begin to compile a report of the incident. At the same time, other investigators are taking photos of the scene and gathering physical evidence. Investigators will also interview persons at the scene, focusing on the timeline of events. The objective is to link evidence to potential suspects, protect the integrity of any physical evidence, and minimise contamination of evidence.
  4. Reopening of the Scene. Once the lead investigator has determined that the investigation is complete, the scene may be reopened to other health and safety agencies who will assess the safety at the scene (i.e. potential chemical hazards, structural safety of buildings, etc.) and in stages, begin to repair or reopen the site.

[Source: How the Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation Will Be Conducted, McNeal G, Forbes, (15 April 2013)].

  • Campaign to stop soccer players dying by having defibrillators at all football fields in NSW, Jane Hansen, The Daily Telegraph, (June 2016). It's an appalling statistic that strikes at the heart of the otherwise idyllic Sydney suburban sporting life — the sudden death of soccer players has become disturbingly common.  Last year there were five deaths on football fields in Sydney, and there have been three this year, with the season only two months in.
  • Footballer suffers heart attack on field in Fawkner, Chloe Booker, The Age, (May 2015). A young suburban footballer, who died from a cardiac arrest during a match in Melbourne's north, is being remembered as a "wonderful kid loved by all".
  • After Action Report for the Response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Massachusetts, (December 2014). The After Action Report for the Response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings reflects the findings of an after action review of response and recovery activities of public safety, public health, and medical personnel related to the April 15 bombings; the care and support of those impacted by the events in the following days; and the search and apprehension of the bombing suspects. The after action review was coordinated by a multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional project management team consisting of key organizations involved in response activities, with the support of a private sector, third-party vendor.
  • Spectator Risks at Sporting Events, J Winslow, A Goldstein,The Internet Journal of Law, Healthcare and Ethics, Volume 4 Number 2 (2006). Spectator injuries take place at sporting events as a result of incidents in the playing arena. Venues assume little responsibility to ensure spectator safety based on the legal doctrine of “assumption of risk”. This paper reviews the literature to define the risk to spectators at baseball and hockey venues.

More information is available in the following Clearinghouse topics: Heat Illness in Sport and ExerciseSports Concussion and Head TraumaSudden Cardiac Death in Sport

On 25 November 2014, cricketer Phillip Hughes was hit in the neck by a bouncer (ball), during a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground, causing a vertebral artery dissection that led to a subarachnoid haemorrhage. The Australian team doctor, Peter Brukner, noted that only 100 such cases had ever been reported, with "only one case reported as a result of a cricket ball". Hughes was taken to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, where he underwent surgery, was placed into an induced coma, and was in intensive care in a critical condition. He died on 27 November, having never regained consciousness. 

Cricket Australia Independent Review (May 2016)

  • Independent Review into the Death of Phillip Joel Hughes (PDF  PDF document - 1.9 MB), David Curtain QC, (May 2016).
  • Ambulance delay had 'no impact' on Hughes death, Andrew Ramsay,, (10 May 2016). Mandatory helmets for batsmen, keepers and close fielders key recommendation of independent review into Phillip Hughes death Cricket Australia's independent review of the death of former Test opener Phillip Hughes has recommended that all first-class cricketers be compelled to wear a protective helmet that meets stringent British safety standards at all times when facing fast or medium-pace bowling in matches and at training. The review, undertaken by President of the Australian Bar Association and former Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council David Curtain QC, also recommends that helmets become mandatory for fielders positioned close to the batter (except slips fielders). 

Conducted by Melbourne-based barrister Mr David Curtain QC—a former Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council and President of the Australian Bar Association—the review made a number of recommendations, some of which had already been implemented by Cricket Australia during the 2015-16 season.

Mr Curtain concluded that:

  • The treatment Phillip Hughes received after being struck in the neck by a ball was appropriate.
  • The now mandated British Standard helmet would have offered no protection where he was struck.
  • There is limited scientific evidence that current neck guards will prevent a similar tragedy and they must be properly evaluated before they are mandated. Evaluations will be ongoing.

Additional recommendations were that:  

  • A defibrillator must be available at all Cricket Australia sanctioned competitions in the unlikely event a player suffers from a heart condition.
  • Under Cricket Australia’s current concussion and head injury policy team medical staff will continue to have sole discretion as to whether any player at national, state or elite pathway level, who has been struck in the head, can continue in the game.
  • To support medical staff further, Cricket Australia has suggested a concussion substitute be permissible for domestic cricket. ICC approval of the introduction of substitutes is required in order for four day matches to retain their first class status.
  • Approval is also currently being sought from Cricket Australia’s Playing Conditions Advisory Committee to allow a concussions substitute in all other domestic male and female elite competitions.
  • Cricket Australia is also currently working with various parties to identify design, performance and evaluation criteria for helmet neck guards.
  • Helmets that meet the most recent British Standard and provide the highest level of protection were mandated last season for elite players and will now be compulsory when facing medium and fast bowling in Cricket Australia sanctioned matches and at training.
  • Helmets must also be worn by wicket-keepers standing up to the stumps and fielders within seven metres of the batter on strike, with the exception of any fielding position behind square of the wicket on the off side.

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland thanked Mr Curtain for his thorough review and endorsed its recommendations. “The global cricket community was deeply saddened by the tragic death of Phillip Hughes and the great loss his family suffered,” Mr Sutherland said. “We received Mr Curtain’s review last season and since that time we have been considering his recommendations and discussing with relevant bodies as to how we best make changes necessary to prevent an accident of this nature happening again. “While there will always be a small risk we believe that the measures we have already taken and will enact following this review will reduce that risk even further.” [Ambulance delay had 'no impact' on Hughes death, Andrew Ramsay,, (10 May 2016).]

Cricket Australia also promised to cooperate fully with the NSW Coroner's inquest into Phillip Hughes’ death, which was completed in November 2016.

“We have had ongoing open dialogue with the New South Wales Crown Solicitor and have indicated that we will be as cooperative as possible with any coronial inquest,” Mr Sutherland said.

“Never again do we want to see a tragedy of that nature happen on a cricket field and we have shared the findings of this review with the coroner,” concluded Mr Sutherland.

NSW Coroner's Inquiry (November 2016) 

The recommendations of the inquest included:

  • Cricket Australia (CA) is to review dangerous and unfair bowling laws to weed out any inconsistencies in the interpretation of the rules.
  • CA is to identify a helmet neck protector that all batsmen must wear in first class matches.
  • Cricket NSW is to review its policy governing daily medical briefings to ensure key staff are aware of its purpose.
  • Umpire training is to be reviewed so they can ensure medical assistance is summoned quickly and effectively.

Additional References

Risk Management Institution of Australasia (RMIA) 

Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD)

  • Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) is Australia's preeminent organisation for directors, dedicated to making a difference in the quality of governance and directorship. AICD focus on risk management from a Director’s perspective and cover risk management as a topic in a number of their courses. They also publish numerous articles on risk management available via the AICD Director Resource Centre.

Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission)

Play by the Rules


  • The Risk Management Resources have been developed to assist entities to manage risk effectively. It includes better practice guidance, case studies and access to risk management tools and consultancy services. 
  • Better Practice Guide - Risk Management (PDF PDF document - 1.0 MB), (June 2008). Provides advice on the key principles and concepts of risk management to be considered when developing and implementing an enterprise wide approach to the management of risk.

Office of Sport – Sport and Recreation (New South Wales)

Awareness of a club’s legal obligations and commitment to quality and safety are critical in today’s sporting environment. If you serve on a board or committee, risk management is one of your key responsibilities.

Office for Recreation & Sport (South Australia)

Risk Management Resource (PDF PDF document - 1.9 MB), Office of Recreation and Sport, (2016). The purpose of this resource is to provide an overview of the key concepts of risk management and guidance on how the risk management process can be practically applied.

Additional information is also available in the Resources to help you run your club section of the ORS website.  

Sport and Recreation (Tasmania)

Sport and Recreation Tasmania information sheets (December 2012) provide a resource designed to assist sport and recreation organisations (SROs) to improve their understanding and application of risk management.

Department of Local Government, Sport & Cultural Industries (Western Australia)

Organisations must accept that it is inevitable that they will encounter risk, the aim of risk management is for the board and the Chief Executive Officer to ensure that the risks faced do not result in significant loss or harm to the organisation.

  • Emergency and Critical Incident Management (October 2014). This comprehensive site can guide all stages of critical incident planning and procedures. Its school-based approach and template could be adapted for sporting organisations, clubs and teams. The Emergency and Critical Incident Management Plan Template (November 2011) contains an Appendix with practical guidelines for important documentation and communication : Emergency and Critical Incident Diary - Parent Re-unification Procedures - Staff Briefing (Sample Agenda) - Psychological First Aid - Informing Parents of an Emergency or Critical Incident - Sample Leaflets for Parents - Operational Debriefing. 

Australian Football League (AFL)

AFL provides a range of risk management resources to allow football clubs to undertake a structured approach to risk management so they can demonstrate to insurers and others that they have taken precautionary measures to minimise risk.

Australian Rugby Union (ARU)

Gow-Gates and the ARU have developed risk management resources tailored to rugby bodies to assist in providing a safe environment for all participants.

Cricket Australia 

Risk Management is a process of systematically identifying risks and eliminating or reducing the likelihood of consequences. The development and implementation of a risk management plan that is compliant with cricket laws and policies is recommended.

Football Federation Australia (FFA)

The FFA Clubs’ Risk Management Plan 'Safe Football', developed by Gow-Gates in conjunction with FFA and the Member Federations, provides a uniform approach to assist the Football Community in assessing and managing the risks associated with the management of football clubs.


At a golf club, there are many issues to consider when undertaking a Risk Management Assessment.  As part of a club’s risk management process, it should follow these steps. 

National Rugby League (NRL) 

Electrical Storm Safety Guidelines (PDF PDF document - 99 KB), National Rugby League (2013). A senior official within the Rugby League organisation is designated as a “Weather Watcher” and is responsible for recognising danger and activating the lightning protection plan. These guidelines provide information regarding the criteria for the suspension and resumption of activities, dissemination of information, and crowd strategies. 

Surf Life Saving

Surf Life Saving Australia – Risk Management (PDF PDF document - 1.0 MB)

Touch Football

Risk Management. The Affiliate Management Resource Initiative (AMRI) is an initiative created by Touch Football Australia (TFA). The program contains a wide range of resources to assist the affiliate to improve towards implementing ‘best practice’. The program is about improvement and provides an easy to use framework that will help to make continuous improvement a culture not a chore.



New Zealand

  • Sport NZ – Enterprise risk management resource (2016) is a comprehensive guide for organisational risk management and includes a quick reference guide for small organisations. The resource adheres to the international standard ISO 31000:2009, Risk Management – Principles and Guidelines. 
  • Sport NZ – Risk management for events (2016) resource details seven steps to effective risk management of events and various templates to help organisations and event managers minimise potential negative outcomes, costs and liabilities. 

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)

The OECD is an inter-governmental organisation, with 35 member countries (including Australia), which seeks to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

  • The Changing Face of Strategic Crisis Management, OECD Reviews of Risk Management Policies, OECD Publishing, Paris (2015). This report proposes a fundamental shift in crisis management to help governments adapt to the new risk landscape through agile systems that can handle the unexpected. It presents practical recommendations on how to develop strategic crisis management capacities in order to minimise the impacts of large-scale shocks. 

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.


Online Resources


  • Be prepared, Tracey Lloyd, Australian Leisure Management, (March/April 2011). Disaster planning for clubs focuses on property and equipment protection and covers topics such as insurance and using social media such as Facebook and Twitter as a communication strategy.
  • Developing injury prevention policy through a multi-agency partnership approach: a case study of a state-wide sports safety policy in New South Wales, Australia, Poulos RG; Donaldson A; McLeod B, International Journal Of Injury Control And Safety Promotion, Vol. 19 (2), (2012). Sports injuries are an important public health issue. A multi-agency key stakeholder partnership was formed to develop a state-wide response to sports injury prevention in New South Wales, Australia.
  • Ensuring Safety at Australian Sport Event Precincts, Giulianotti, Richard; Klauser, Francisco; Taylor, Tracy; Toohey, Kristine. Urban Studies, 1, Vol. 48 Issue: Number 15, (November 2011). Since 9/11, pervasive concerns about public safety have irrevocably changed the management of large sport events and these events are now under constant pressure to improve security.
  • How to stage modern sports experience in non-traditional setting. Baesel, Cordon; Warren, Stefanie, Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal, Vol. 16 Issue 6, (May 2013). The article focuses on the importance of the traditional risk management for event organizers and stakeholders
  • Prevention and Management of Physical and Social Environment Risk Factors for Sports-Related Injuries, Kerr, Zachary; Roos, Karen; Schmidt, Julianne; Marshall, Stephen, American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, Vol. 7 Issue: Number 2, (March 2013). An understanding of the environmental factors that contribute to injury risk will allow for the optimization of athletic performance and minimize morbidity.
  • Professional sport, work health and safety law and reluctant regulators, Windholz, E.  Bond University ePublications (2015). Workplace health and safety (WHS) regulators have been reluctant to investigate professional sports for breaches of WHS law. Using the Essendon Football Club supplements saga as its primary case study, this article explores this reluctance. It concludes that while aspects of the sporting endeavour justify a pragmatic application of WHS laws, professional sport should not be above and beyond WHS laws and regulators. The reasoning behind WHS regulators’ decisions not to investigate potential WHS breaches in professional sport should be more transparent.
  • Risk Management for Athlete Safety and To Protect Facilities from Spectator Lawsuits, Inge Jr; Vernon E, Sports Litigation Alert, Vol. 9 Issue 11, (June 2012). The article discusses approaches to reducing potential liability from spectator lawsuits for owners and operators of sports facilities. It narrates the Camp Randall Crush on October 30, 1993 after a big upset victory by the University of Wisconsin football team over the Michigan Wolverines. The article also suggests that owners and operators of sports facilities should formulate and implement policies for safety and crowd control to reduce the likelihood of injuries to spectators and athletes.
  • Sports facility management: organising events and mitigating risks, Wright, Richard Keith. Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, Vol. 4 Issue: No. 3 (November 2012).
  • Team-Based Professional Sporting Competitions and Work, Health and Safety Law: Defining the Boundaries of Responsibility. Windholz, E. 43 Australian Business Law Review 303; Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015/12. (2015)
  • The policies and practices of sports governing bodies in relation to assessing the safety of sports groundsSwan P; Otago L; Finch CF; Payne WR, Journal Of Science And Medicine In Sport, Vol. 12 (1), (January 2009). Sport is an important context for physical activity and it is critical that safe environments are provided for such activity. Sports safety is influenced by the presence of sports ground environmental hazards such as ground hardness, poorly maintained playing fields, surface irregularities and the presence of debris/rubbish. 
  • Unexpected Disasters at Organized Sporting Events: Considerations in Preparation and ResponseWoodhead, T et al., Current Sports Medicine Reports (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) , Vol. 14 Issue 3, (May/June 2015). The article discusses various considerations in the preparation and response for unexpected disasters at organized sporting events. Topics discussed include general disaster preparedness, supplies in preparation for unexpected disasters at organized sporting events, and special considerations for specific threats like natural disasters.

Standards Australia Resources

Related Topics


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