On-Ice Safety

Before and during your event, it is the organizing committee’s responsibility to monitor the playing area for any potential safety hazards. All involved with the on-ice portion of your event should identify, and minimize or eliminate all risks and strive to make the playing area as safe as possible. The following are guidelines to help you monitor on-ice safety hazards with your event:

  • Ensure that players and coaches are wearing proper, full, certified protective equipment.

  • Players should prepare for practices and games with proper stretching and warm-up routines, and encourage players to stretch following on-ice sessions.

  • Never allow anyone on the ice until the ice resurfacing machine is completely off the ice surface and its rink gates are securely closed.

  • Ensure that all activities are appropriate for the age and skill level of the participants, and utilize proper teaching progressions, especially when teaching potentially dangerous skills like body checking.

  • Deliver a strong message that checking-from-behind will not be tolerated.

  • Ensure that coaches and assistants have full control over all on-ice activities, and that players are supervised at all times with at least one coach on the ice at all times with the players.

  • During practices, enforce all rules that apply during games and establish consistent team rules for dangerous behavior like stick work and checking from behind.

  • Ensure that periodic rest periods are included where players drink sufficient amounts of cold water: tired, dehydrated players are more susceptible to injury.

  • During games, encourage officials to strictly and consistently enforce all rules regardless of the score and time of game, and work with coaches, officials and administrators in your league to ensure all rules are enforced consistently.

  • Be aware of all special illnesses (e.g. asthma, allergies) and previous injuries of participants, and never take a chance with any potential illnesses or injuries.

  • During games, remind players, coaches and other team personnel in the bench area to always be aware of the action on the ice, following the play in order to be prepared for the puck or other objects that may suddenly enter the bench area.

  • Anyone going onto the ice surface in street shoes (running shoes recommended) to attend to an injured player should walk carefully, exercise caution and use a player or official for support where possible.

  • During any on-ice ceremonies, ensure that a proper "T" carpet with rubber backing is in position for dignitaries or other participants to walk on the ice surface. The carpet must reach completely from ice surface entrance to the area of focus, and must rest flat on the ice, free from bumps and debris. All players must wear full protective equipment including helmets and facemasks.

  • Emphasize that anybody entering the ice surface, including dignitaries, singers and photographers, must exercise caution and walk only on the carpet provided: no-one should ever walk on the bare ice surface in street shoes. Guides should be provided for any dignitaries or others requiring assistance.

  • During on-ice ceremonies, ensure that all participating teams, bands or members of special skating displays are aware of risks such as carpets, tables and other participants on the ice surface, and that no-one enters the ice surface until the ice resurfacing machine is completely off the ice.

  • Ensure that no one who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol participates in any activities.

  • All team pictures should be taken off of the ice surface, and photographers should never go onto the ice surface in street shoes to take pictures unless a proper rubber-backed carpet is in place.


Ice Conditions: The ice surface should be clear of any debris at all times. Check the ice for any bare spots or ruts. Clarify arena policy on the timing and frequency of ice cleaning.

Breakaway Nets: Hockey Canada strongly recommends the use of breakaway type of nets for teams at all levels. If the arena management is unwilling to make this investment, it is important that when Novice or Atom Teams are playing that no conventional anchors be used, thereby leaving the net free to move if a young player runs up against it.

Boards: Boards should be smooth all the way around the arena with no edges sticking out or splintering. Check to see that no nail or screw heads have worked loose and are sticking out from the boards. The boards should be painted white on a regular basis. The boards should be covered with a plastic facing.

Lighting: Arena lighting should be consistent across the entire playing surface, with no dark spots. Lights should be at the same full level during both practices and games.

Benches: Benches should be long enough to seat 14 dressed players at one time. Check to ensure there is no debris on the floor, such as tape, which could catch on a player’s skate and cause an accident. 

Gates: Gates to players’ benches and penalty boxes should always open inward, operate smoothly and have a secure fastening device. All gates should be securely closed during all game and practice sessions.

Glass enclosures: Wherever possible, glass enclosures should run down both sides of the ice as well as behind the nets to provide maximum protection for spectators. There should be glass enclosures at the back of the players’ benches if spectators are seated behind the players. The glass should be of a sufficient height to protect spectators in the lower stand.

Safety Netting: Safety nets are recommended at the end of the arena and should be considered at the side of the arena to protect spectators. These nets may be connected to the ceiling of the building and extend 0.3 m (1’) beyond (below) the top of the glass to the top of the arena or be of a reasonable height. These nets should be made from a white or black, force resistant, reinforced nylon netting or equivalent, measuring both 70 mm (1 ¾") square mesh. Grommets should be placed every 18" so that connecting ropes may be attached.

Air quality: The key issue here is carbon monoxide generated by ice-resurfacing machines. This odourless gas, if generated in sufficient quantities, may result in dizziness, nausea and headaches from carbon monoxide poisoning. It is also wise to make sure the arena can provide a supply of fresh air to replace the stale air being exhausted by the fans. 

Penalty Boxes: Doors should open and close securely. If there is one box for both teams, it should be divided in such a way that physical contact is impossible. Ideally, the penalty box should be on the opposite side of the ice from the team benches, but if this is physically impossible, the penalty box must be 20 feet away from the team benches.

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