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    Education and Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    New report aims to boost safety in Queensland gymnastics clubs

    Education and Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Friday, November 04, 2011

    New report aims to boost safety in Queensland gymnastics clubs

    A new report has found Queensland gymnastics and trampoline clubs need to improve safety for sport participants.

    The report was prepared after Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick ordered an assessment of safety at Queensland gymnastics clubs in the wake of the tragic death of Townsville teenage gymnast Michelle Maitland in 2009.

    “Michelle Maitland’s sad death highlighted the safety risks associated with some gymnastic activities,” Mr Dick said.

    “After meeting with Michelle’s mother, Ann, last year, I made a commitment that Workplace Health and Safety Queensland would look further into the management of safety in these facilities.

    “Assessments by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) of a quarter of the state’s gymnastics clubs – a total of 26 facilities – revealed there was room for improvement in the areas of lesson plans, risk management, equipment maintenance, manual tasks and documenting skill progression.

    “The 25-page report found that the risk of contact with all possible hard surfaces was controlled in only 8 per cent of facilities.

    “The report included nine recommendations to boost safety at clubs, including a review of some aspects of Gymnastics Australia’s (GA’s) quality assurance and risk management system for affiliated clubs.

    “It also called on GA to review equipment maintenance policies to achieve greater compliance by clubs, and for GA to help clubs conduct risk assessments, specifically for use of gymnastics apparatus.”

    Mr Dick said WHSQ found that clubs generally had a strong awareness of workplace health and safety and that safety during gymnastics was managed relatively well, although there was room for improvement.

    The report concluded that emergency management and incident reporting was being managed well.

    “All clubs inspected had a first aider at the facility and an accessible first aid kit during all classes. Lesson plans are used by 96 per cent of clubs and 96 per cent of all lessons are supervised.

    “However, the report said improvement was needed in some areas of gymnastics safety.”

    During the assessment period, inspectors issued a total of 37 enforcement notices to clubs, the most common being for contact with hard surfaces such as unprotected gymnastic equipment.

    Notices were also issued for unaccredited coaches. Twelve per cent of affiliated clubs assessed used coaches not accredited by Gymnastics Australia to run programs.

    “The report also noted that while most clubs are aware of workplace health and safety standards, only 46 per cent allocated enough time or money to meet safety responsibilities,” Mr Dick said.

    “Inspectors also found that 46 per cent of clubs had procedures in place for maintaining equipment, with 92 per cent having equipment that appeared safe for use.”

    Mr Dick said Gymnastics Australia (GA), Gymnastic Queensland (GQ) Sport and Recreation Services (SRS) and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland would work in partnership to implement the recommendations.

    “To demonstrate the seriousness in which this matter is being viewed, I have ordered Workplace Health and Safety Queensland to compile a report on the actions being undertaken by GA, GQ and SRS to respond to the recommendations by Monday, 16 January 2012.

    Gymnast Michelle Maitland died after hitting her head on concrete while performing a gymnastics routine at Townsville Gymnastics Association in June 2009. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland prosecuted the association in 2010 and a fine of $70,000 was imposed.

    Media contact: Minister for Education and Industrial Relations 3237 1000