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About Risk Management


What is risk?

Risk is the uncertainty about outcomes that can be either negative or positive. Traditional risk management deals with negative consequences of risk.

What is risk management?

Risk management is the process of making & implementing decisions that will minimize the adverse affects of accidental losses. There are six steps to a risk management program:

  1. Identify the risk
  2. Analyze loss exposures
  3. Examine the feasibility of risk management techniques
  4. Select appropriate risk management techniques
  5. Implement a selected risk management technique
  6. Monitor results and review the program

A risk management program will vary for each organization. The following are general guidelines:

  • The first step is to identify your exposure to a loss. Ask the question: What can go wrong? List all of the possible things that could go wrong.
  • The next step is to determine the likelihood of the situations you have identified and the consequences of those situations.
  • Lastly you will want to determine what can be done to avoid or reduce the risk.

Risk Control

Risk control is an act or decision not to act that reduces the frequency and severity of losses.

You can choose to:

  • Retain the risk: generally retention of risk occurs for small but frequent occurrences.
  • Reduce the risk: this is the process in which techniques can be implemented to reduce the chances of a loss and/or reducing the severity of the loss.
  • Avoid the risk: this is a when a decision is made to eliminate the chance of a loss by avoiding the risk all together.
  • Transfer the risk: this is a technique in which a risk is transferred to another party. This can occur through a contractual arrangement. Insurance is a form of risk transfer.

Once you implement risk control measures be sure to monitor the results and make changes as required.

Accident investigation is a final part of any good loss control program. Gathering of information at the time of an incident is beneficial as it provides a record of the incident should an insurance claim be made and if provides a record of all incidents even if they do not result in a claim. Careful review of these records will help to determine areas that need improvement.

We have provided you with a sample Incident Report form. This form should be completed for all incidents and retained on file in a safe place where it cannot be lost or damaged.

Ensure forms are filled out completely and legibly. Any alterations to be made must be made openly with original entry intact and not changes. Corrections should be initialed, signed & dated. All statement should be objective and completed without any omissions.

Risk management suggestions

The following are suggestions that you may find useful to prevent injuries and/or reduce the seriousness of an injury:

  1. Ensure the design of the sports and recreational facility is appropriate for the people who use the equipment.
  2. Ensure equipment meets the standards set by the Canadian Standards Association
  3. Determine an appropriate supervisor-to-user ratio. The appropriate ratio will depend on the type of activity, the equipment being used, the age of the participants, etc.
  4. Screen patrons for health limitations that may make it unsafe for them to participate in your program.
  5. Use signs to warn patrons of hazards. Signs should use symbols and French and English text where possible.
  6. Implement a screening and hiring policy to ensure that you employ only qualified people.
  7. Ensure that volunteers and staff have adequate training in first-aid, coaching, organization policies and procedures, and any other training that is appropriate.
  8. Adhere to national, provincial or governing body regulations concerning the conduct of operations.
  9. Ensure the facilities and equipment are regularly inspected for damage and repaired or replaced as necessary. There are professional consultants that you can hire to periodically inspect equipment.
    • Develop an inspection schedule. For example, employees or volunteers may perform daily inspections and a qualified inspector may perform more formal monthly inspections. The frequency of inspections and the level of expertise required will vary across facilities.
    • Design a sports and recreation inspection form that reflects the existing equipment and layout.
    • Train inspectors and/or employees/volunteers in standards.
    • Provide appropriate inspection and maintenance tools to employees/volunteers who are responsible for maintenance. For example, ensure that someone who inspects your sports fields has your organization’s Sports Fields Daily Inspection Form.
    • Develop procedures for documentation and filing. Keep records of the dates of inspections, who conducted each inspection, the findings, and the maintenance done.
    • Develop follow-up plans (i.e., inspection of completed repairs, continuous training/review of employees, etc.).
  10. During inspection and maintenance, ensure that:
    • handrails, barriers and railings are sturdy enough to prevent falls;
    • broken glass, garbage, sharp edges, bolts and other hazards that may be present are removed;
    • paint is not cracking, peeling, or flaking;
    • damaged or defective equipment is repaired or removed;
    • landing areas are constantly maintained (landing areas are high-use areas that often have materials that erode);
    • equipment is checked for signs of wear and tear; and
    • first-aid kits, fire extinguishers and other safety equipment are in place and in good condition.
  11. Encourage people using the sports and recreation facility to pre-inspect the grounds for obvious hazards.
  12. Ensure users are wearing appropriate clothing and equipment.
  13. Post signs indicating the hours of operation, operating procedures, where problems or concerns should be directed and any other relevant information.
  14. Use waivers or informed consent forms. These are legal forms intended to protect your organization from liabilities either by requiring people to waive their rights to sue or by clearly informing them of the hazards and having them accept them willingly. Always consult a lawyer to develop legal forms.
  15. Develop emergency and accident-response procedures and implement them as written policy. Provide all staff and volunteers with copies of and training in these procedures. Conduct drills to test these procedures.
  16. Use a sign-in log (if waivers or consent forms cannot be used). At the top of the log include information about potential hazards to which users may be exposed. A sign-in log can also help you keep track of the:
    • time and date the users enter and exit;
    • names of users; and
    • emergency contact names and phone numbers.

**information reproduced with permission from Insurance Bureau of Canada***


Liability waivers and hold-harmless clauses are an important risk management tool for a wide range of businesses but especially for those in the field of sport, leisure and recreation.

  • A waiver should be part of a well thought out risk management strategy
  • A waiver is a legal document and you should consult with legal counsel when drafting a waiver and when updating a waiver
  • A waiver does not replace liability insurance
  • All documentation should be archived as legal actions are not often started for many years after the occurrence
  • A waiver may not prevent lawsuits but it can add to the defence of allegations of breach of duty.

There are court cases where waivers have been enforced.


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