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On-Ice Safety

Before and during your activity there is a responsibility to monitor the playing area for any potential safety hazards. Everyone involved with the on-ice portion of your activity 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 activity:

Prior to going on the ice

  • Players must be supervised at all times, including in the dressing room and while proceeding to the ice surface.
  • 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.
  • 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, checking to the head, and any other dangerous activities will not be tolerated.
  • Ensure that no one who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol participates in any activities.
  • Players should prepare for practices and games with proper stretching and warm-up routines, and encourage players to stretch following on-ice sessions.
  • Ensure that players and coaches are wearing proper, full, certified protective equipment.

While on the ice

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ensure that periodic rest periods are included where players drink sufficient amounts of cold water: tired, dehydrated players are more susceptible to injury.
  • 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.
  • Make every effort to ensure that off-ice officials make safety the first priority at all times and that penalty box attendants exercise caution when dealing with players.

Inspect the following

  • Ice Conditions: The ice surface should be clear of any debris at all times. Check for any bare spots or ruts. Clarify arena policy on the timing and frequency of ice cleaning.
  • Nets: Hockey Canada strongly recommends the use of breakaway nets for all levels (breakaway nets have anchors that allow the net to become dislodged with relative ease in a collision). 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: The bench area should be large 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. In addition check to ensure the benches are secured to the floor and do not move.
  • 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. The bench and penalty box areas are free from tape or other debris that may become fastened to or damage skate blades.

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