Leisure operational management
The study of operational management within sport and leisure is considerably diverse. Much of this diversity stems from the fact that different types of sport and leisure activities create differing dilemmas and responsibilities for managers. However, regardless of the diversity which exists in the practical implementation of leisure management, the processes and functions of management within the leisure industry remain founded on the legislative provisions outlined by government (McLean & Yoder, 2005). Thus, utilising specific legislation and applying it to the management of leisure is the most pivotal task for any leisure manager.
Operational management within leisure also engenders diversity because of the type of legal provisions to which managers must be aware. Given that leisure facilities invariably involve public participation, knowledge and awareness of the legal issues which affect establishments open to the public is paramount (Watt, 2003). Moreover, if a leisure facility also employs members of staff, then there are obvious legal provisions relating to employment which must be actively considered (Watt, 2003).
Given the above, the purpose of this work is to assess legislative actions and legal agendas in sport and recreation. This assessment will take a number of forms. Primarily, the application of legal provisions will be assessed in terms of the responsibility leisure managers have to ensure public protection and safety, in addition to issues relating to employment. However, although this work will address the issue of leisure management and the law on the basis of a broad assessment, specific focus will be concurrently given throughput to the case study provided. The case study in question involves a report of faeces in a swimming pool. The case study outlines how an individual manager approaches the problems of the faeces and accounts for the process through which the pool is cleaned in order for it to be suitable for use. As suggested, this case study will be assessed in relation to the legal provisions and legal agendas which impact upon sport and leisure management. However, in order that this assessment is fully supported and validated on a firm legal framework, the issues which arise in the case study will be augmented through reference to other legal precedents and case studies which are applicable to the present investigation.
Firstly, it is important to highlight the fact that the presence of faeces in the swimming pool is a serious matter of concern. The case study outlines the practical processes which have to be undertaken by the leisure manager in terms of cleaning and preparing the pool for later use. This process must ensure that the faeces are fully cleared from the pool because the potential health risks posed by this presence are considerable. Therefore, in a general sense, the removal of the faeces in an effective manner is essential because the presence poses a direct threat to public health. If the process outlined in the case study was not undertaken in a full and comprehensive manner, then both the manager and the leisure facility in general could be subject to legal actions. In particular, the primary legal issue of concern in this regard centres on the matter of negligence. If it could be proved in a court of law that the process undertaken to remove the faeces and clean the pool was negligent in terms of public and health and safety, then laws pertaining to negligence could be directly applied.
In the UK, clear legislative provisions exist which can be used to highlight negligence in sporting events or leisure facilities. The law in relation to negligence centres on common law principles, thus, the primary method by which the law develops in relation to negligence essentially rests on precedents passed down from previous legal judgments (Gardiner, 2006). In most respects, the legal provisions for negligence tend to centre on sporting events and actual sporting activities (Gardiner, 2006). However, such provisions are nonetheless directly applicable to the case study provided. If a court could prove that the manager was negligent in his or her actions in relation to the faeces, then direct measures could be undertaken. In particular, if the manager could be shown to have engaged in ‘reckless disregard’ in the performance of his or her managerial responsibilities, then the law of negligence could be applied. The first use of ‘reckless disregard’ in the sporting sense came with Wooldridge v Summer. In this case, a member of the public visiting a horse event was injured when a horse went out of control. The court decided that the man riding the horse could not be found negligent because the visitor had attended the event in the full knowledge that horses would be present. Furthermore, as the rider had not engaged in ‘reckless disregard’, then legal provisions relating to negligence could not be applied (Gardiner, 2006). As suggested, although the legal basis of negligence is usually applied to sporting events such as that in Wooldridge v Summer, the concept remains applicable to the case study. Above all, if the manager set about the process of removing the faeces and cleaning the pool without using the proper methods, then the water in the pool could pose a direct health risk to visitors. Therefore, this failure would essentially stem from a reckless disregard on the part of the manager in ensuring public health issues were addressed. Proving that the manager showed reckless disregard for public health would in some senses be an irksome task. However, at least in a theoretical sense, the laws relating to negligence could potentially be applied; thus, the leisure manager in this case would need to be aware of such legal provisions and the possible ramifications which could result from a failure to carry out his or her responsibilities effectively.
Therefore, the above discussion highlights how the legal provisions for negligence could in theory be applied to the given case study. However, it is important to note that the legal basis on which the leisure manager in this case must undertake their duties rests on two different processes. Firstly, the provisions of direct legislation must be understood and accounted for; however, the leisure manager must also take active account of regulations which stem from governing authorities in the leisure industry (Robinson, 2004). Of these authorities, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) acts as the central public body responsible for ensuring that high standards of health and safety are applied in relation to leisure facilities (Torkildsen, 2005). Furthermore, in terms of the case study utilised in this work, the assumptions and directions of the HSE are essential as certain provisions include swimming pools.
In terms of the legislative provisions in relation to swimming pools, the law in the UK does not specific in overtly clear terms the requirements managers must undertake. However, the general basis of legal provision lies in section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and regulation 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations Act 1999 (HSE, 2011). The HSE, through its use of regulation HSG179 (which centres on the sue of swimming pools) suggests that the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 “requires employers to conduct their undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as responsibly practicable, that the public is not exposed to risks to health and safety” (HSE, 2011; [online]). Therefore, this legal basis for health and safety in public leisure facilities has direct connotations with the case study provided. The removal of the faeces from the pool, followed by the detailed and timely cleaning process, clearly engenders issues in relation to health and safety. A failure on the part of the leisure manager to ensure that the correct procedures are carried out would mean that the public is “exposed to risks to health and safety” (HSE, 2011; [online]). Thus, the legal provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 could be directly applied and punitive action undertaken by the law courts against both the manager and the facility in general.
The wider issues relating to the cleaning process are also important in terms of protecting health and safety. In particular, given that the process of cleaning the pool takes a number of hours to complete, health and safety risks could potentially develop in terms of members of the public using the pool before the process has been effectively completed. To ensure this does not happen, the manager could either have to monitor the pool area himself, or, find another member of staff to do so. Therefore, the need to monitor the pool is essential in terms of the preservation of health and safety requirements. Naturally, ensuring such monitoring is carried out is heavily dependent on the actions of the leisure manager at the time of the event. However, health and safety regulations suggest that such ad-hoc management processes are not comprehensive enough in ensuring health and safety requirements set out in law are met (Lewis & Taylor, 2008). Therefore, the process of cleaning the pool and the monitoring which would inevitably follow would be heavily reliant on effective processes of risk management. The HSE (2011) suggests that the legal basis of ensuring effective risk management is detailed in the Heath and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. It should be noted in-line with the provisions laid out by the HSE (2011) that the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 does not outline the type of risk management processes which should be undertaken. Therefore, it would be the responsibility of the leisure manager in this case study to ensure that risk management practices have been undertaken in relation to the occurrence of faeces in the pool, the cleaning process which follows and the monitoring undertaken throughout. Indeed, wider case study examples indicate the legal problems which can result when effective risk management structures are not in place. For example, Robinson (2004) suggests that in 1998, a leisure centre in Barnsley was subject to legal actions because a visitor to the swimming pool slipped on a wet floor. Because effective risk management procedure had not been undertaken at the facility, the court decided that negligence could be appropriated, both to the facility and the duty manager in charge that day. The legal foundation for this judgment rested on the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, namely that the facility responsible had failed to ensure that the exposure to public risk was limited as far as possible. (Robinson, 2004) Thus, in terms of the case study in this work, the effective implementation of risk assessment strategies and processes is pivotal, both to the faeces issue in the pool and the wider health and safety of the facility in general.
As such, the above discussions highlight the degree to which laws and regulations with regards to health and safety can be directly applied in relation to the case study example. However, as suggested at the outset of this work, health and safety is not the only requirement to which leisure managers need to be aware. Above all, given that leisure facilities also employ staff members, there are a variety of legal and regulatory prescriptions relating to employment and the effective training and treatment of staff. Thus, it is prudent to assess such legal requirements in relation to the case study example.
In the case study example, the leisure manager has undertaken the responsibility to carry out the removal of the faeces and subsequent cleaning of the pool. However, given the complexity of the operation and the time taken to complete it, it is likely that other staff members would be involved in the practical cleaning process, in addition to monitoring suggested above. Therefore, the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 would be pivotal in ensuring that the legal requirements in relation to the staff members are met. The act specifies the need for employers to ensure that effective training of staff members has been undertaken in relation to their specific job (Watt, 2003). However, this requirement is particularly important in cases where there is potential for serious harm to occur as a result of inadequate knowledge or training. Given that the cleaning of the pool requires the use of numerous chemicals which could cause harm to employees if not used correctly, then the need to ensure that effective training practices are undertaken is paramount.
In addition, the involvement of staff members in the cleaning of the pool would require an active understanding of employment legislation which protects employee’s rights. For example, the Employment Rights Act 1996 outlines in detail the need for all employees to have contracts of employment which clearly specify their duties and responsibilities, in addition to those of their employer (Robinson, 2004). Therefore, the leisure manger in the case study would have to ensure that the employees participating in the cleaning of the pool have contracts of employment which include the duties required in relation to the problem in the pool. If employees were asked to participate in the cleaning process without having such duties included in their contracts of employment, both the leisure manager and the facility could be subject to legal actions. Allowing staff members to undertake the cleaning without specifying the duties of such a task in broad terms within the contract would mean that if accident occurred, the facility and the manager would be responsible. Numerous case study examples of accidents in leisure facilities can be used to exemplify this point. For example, Torkildson (2005) outlines a case which occurred in Cardiff in 2003, where a member of staff was asked to perform a duty in relation to the cleaning of a water tank. Such requirements were not outlined in their contract of employment, thus, when an accident occurred with the chemicals used for the cleaning of the tank, the employee was able to undertake legal action against the facility (Torkildson, 2005). Moreover, the legal provisions which arose not only centred on the issue of employment contract, but also the health and safety procedures of the leisure centre in question.
Therefore, the above discussions highlight how the leisure manager in the case study needs to have an active understanding of the legal issues which arise in the performance of their managerial duties. As suggested at the outset, the legal foundation for these duties is varied and diverse. In particular, the leisure manager needs to be aware of the health and safety requirements laid down in law, not only for members of the public, but also employees and the facility in general. Thus, any failure to ensure that such health and safety requirements are met could result in serious legal action being taken against the manager and the facility. Moreover, given that the processes involved in the case study would require the active participation of staff members, the leisure manager would also have a legal responsibility to ensure that the provisions of employment law are fully met. Finally, it is also prudent to point out that the leisure manager would require knowledge of equality law, in particular the provisions of the Equality Act 2010. This may not be directly applicable to the case study in question, however, in diverse social settings; such laws are regularly applied in cases where discrimination in the workplace has occurred. Thus, this requirement exemplifies the degree to which the legal requirements of leisure managers are hugely diverse and divergent.
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