Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Summertime is Calling Me...But Be Careful!

Many hometowns put a great deal of effort and money toward providing residents and visitors with recreational opportunities to improve the quality of life. However, these opportunities can also create liabilities for cities and towns.

Recently, the South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund offered Parks and Recreation Liability training to its members help them recognize situations that might result in liability.

Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act require that newly built or rebuilt recreational facilities be compliant with the ADA. Other laws and practices can lessen the likelihood of severe claims. In South Carolina, the Tort Claims Act limits liability damages to $300,000 per person or $600,000 per occurrence. Background checks on employees and volunteers, a review of Motor Vehicle Reports and understanding the potential liability of using volunteers can often limit exposures faced by municipalities.

Conducting routine, scheduled inspections of playgrounds will help cities determine where work needs to be done to keep playgrounds and playground equipment safe. Performing audits that check for compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and ASTM International help cities ensure that critical areas where claims are likely to occur receive the needed attention. Get a compliance checklist from this February Uptown article.

Although many cities and towns have year round swimming facilities, the approach of warm weather raises the likelihood of claims related to aquatics liability. The Department of Health and Environmental Control regulates swimming pools in South Carolina. Abiding by these regulations and having staff trained in First Aid, CPR and AED use will go a long way in making sure that pool facilities are safe and fun.

Having a variety of recreational facilities to choose from is an important quality of life amenity for many who live in SC cities and towns. But, municipalities must be careful to not take on more than they can handle. Read more in this Uptown article about recognizing how negligence is determined, meeting industry standards, and having the manpower to inspect, repair, and maintain recreational facilities to keep these assets from becoming municipal liabilities. 

By Cindy Martellini, Claims Manager for the Municipal Association's Risk Management Services

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