Today (5th August) sees the start of the 31st Modern Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, no doubt with a convoluted yet compelling opening ceremony (no David Guetta please). A record 208 countries and more than 10,500 athletes will take part in 28 different Olympic sports in front of a television audience of over 3.5 billion people. With the eyes of the world watching, unfortunately for the organizers the planning has been besieged with multiple health and safety issues. The main sailing port has collapsed due to bad weather, waterways are full of raw sewage and pollution, and the athletes village has been classed as 'uninhabitable' due to poor electrics and plumbing.
However, the sports themselves can often be dangerous too, although only eight competitors have ever died in Olympic competition. With athletes pushing themselves to the peak of their physical abilities, and with variables and equipment which can often be a hazard, take a look at our top 5 (sporting) health and safety hazards at the Rio Olympics.
#5 – Weight Lifting
Hazard – Heavy weights
In the Pro-Sapien office the only lifting that goes on is cups of tea, so weight lifting has never been our calling. The world record belongs to an Iranian athlete called
Hossein Rezazadeh, who lifted 263kg, or over a quarter of a tonne in weight! The US Bureau of Labour Statistics reveals that 36.4% of all injuries and illnesses causing days off work were caused by sprains, strains and tears, so please warm up correctly should you decide on a career change. Although OSHA does not have a set limit on the maximum weight that should be carried in the workplace, I am sure you will agree that perhaps the weight of a cup of coffee is probably a good benchmark.
#4 – Diving
Hazard – Diving board, water
Greg Louganis, the greatest diver of all time and a gold medal winner at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, famously did the above: he won the gold despite the clunk on the head, but that’s beside the point. There is no doubt head injuries are a serious matter. Any loss of consciousness in the UK in the work place should be reported to the HSE, and OSHA has a multitude of rules regarding PPE and head protection. The water itself is also an issue, though you would hope that an Olympic-standard diver could at least doggy paddle. And whatever you do, don’t belly flop!
#3 – Archery
Hazard – Arrows
Okay, so most/all archery players use their bow and arrows purely for sporting reasons and not to hunt wild deer or reenact Braveheart, but a fast moving, sharp object is definitely a risk. OSHA certainly has guidelines relating to the storage and handling of sharp objects. We suggest that all athletes and Elves follow these guidelines to the letter.
#2 – Equestrian
Hazard – Multiple horse related risks
Although the sport may look quite gentle to the eye (check out some of the dressage from London 2012 here), riding a horse has multiple hazards. For example, when mounted on a horse, the average riders head is around 4 metres off the ground. Adding in the unpredictability of the animal and the potential fast movement only adds to the risk. The risk also remains when dismounted, with a horse kick capable of real serious injury. In fact, over 100 deaths per year are estimated to come from equestrian related activities. Of course, the easiest way to limit the risk of a serious head injury is to always wear a helmet. (Check out WhoHelmets for more information).
#1 – Javelin
Hazard – The javelin itself
Say no more…
Regardless of the risks, in general sport is safe for the participants if the rules are followed, officials are obeyed and general health and safety is observed. We hope you enjoy watching the Olympics this summer, whether you're at home or in Rio. We certainly will! However, watch out for those dangerous TV remote controls...