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As the owner / manager of a field or as an athletic director / coach of athletes, one has an obligation to provide safe facilities. This begins with understanding field construction and maintenance methods. It is ultimately about managing and reducing risks of injury and protecting against legal action should any arise.

Professionals have a duty of care to the athletes under their supervision. The duty of care encompasses the obligation to make sure the facilities used are inherently safe and properly maintained. Parents and players also owe it to themselves to know more about the surfaces and the maintenance practices used.

Current Standards

Where regional or local standards exist, you should insure that your facilities are in compliance. It is also recommended to be well informed of manufacturer guidelines and prepare maintenance routines that meet or exceed those guidelines. One can also find useful information at the Synthetic Turf Council website, here.

Areas of Risk

It's important to be aware of the more common or frequent issues where safety is threatened. Much of the current discussion focuses on field hardness. But it is not the only issue. Consider other important factors such as field sanitation, surface/seam tears, and ferrous debris.

Risk Management

It is crucial to have regular testing and evaluation by an approved/certified service firm. A facility needs a regular commitment to knowledge of surface condition. Once actual conditions are documented, a regular maintenance program can be developed which follows known guidelines and standards.

It is also wise to keep written documentation of in-house maintenance as well as outside professional maintenance services.   It's advisable to construct a binder into a "log book" which can house maintenance schedules, contracts, receipts, etc...

When an athlete gets injured on synthetic turf, if legal action occurs, being able to prove and provide documentation that the facility has done everything possible to maintain and monitor the field’s safety and performance at a professional level is critical.  The first two questions or comments by an attorney are “Where is your G-Max report” and “show me your maintenance records.”  Ensuring a record of each and every maintenance event is vital.

IN THE NEWS

Frequently, we encounter reports in the media concerning poor maintenance efforts from facilities with synthetic turf fields. Most of the articles focus on surface conditions as it relates to player safety, most notably field hardness. To read an article from the WYHR television titled "Trouble in the Turf: Lack of Synthetic Turf Testing & Maintenance Puts Athletes at Risk", click here.

The report highlights the basics of in-filled synthetic turf systems, compares different maintenance programs (such as the NFL), and highlights the fact that many facilities have not maintained their fields. The report further exposes a list of public school facilities, including high schools and universities, that have no record of maintenance effort. We've also made the article available on our website, click here.