Resources: Blog

Work Health Safety and Professional Athletes


Tunnel Vision

Australians love sport – whether that is playing, watching on television, hosting match-day barbecues or attending live sporting events. Understandably, sport ignites a significant degree of passion and excitement for everyone involved, including spectators.

Australians love sport – whether that is playing, watching on television, hosting match-day barbecues or attending live sporting events. Understandably, sport ignites a significant degree of passion and excitement for everyone involved, including spectators. However, the spirited support of a person’s favourite team or player should not come at the expense of player safety.

The safety of professional athletes was again in the spotlight this week following an incident between a fan and an opposition player at a NRL game.

A Melbourne Storm player was confronted by a spectator at a Manly Sea Eagles home game, whilst on his way to the dressing rooms after being sinbinned. The spectator was promptly arrested but later released by the police.

The NRL, Manly Sea Eagles and Melbourne Storm were all quick to condemn the actions of the member of the public. While the spectator did not make contact with the player, it was sufficiently serious for the NRL to direct the Manly Sea Eagles to improve security at their home venue before any further games could be held there for the upcoming finals series.

This is the most recent incident of a number of other security incidents across the NRL this year, with three separate incidents of supporters invading the pitch at Bankwest Stadium. On another occasion, a spectator was subdued by one of the on-field trainers after he approached a player for a “high-five” during the game.

This type of spectator behaviour does not happen in Australia alone – across different sporting codes internationally there have been incidents where supporters have launched drink bottles and other objects towards players and officials, placing their health and safety at risk.

These incidents highlight the responsibilities of sporting organisations (professional or otherwise) to ensure the health and safety of their players and others in the workplace. Players, when playing competitively on the sporting field, are in their workplace.

Work health and safety legislation places obligations on an employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of:

  • workers engaged by the employer; and
  • workers whose activities are influenced or directed by the employer.

Given that much of the problem is caused by fans, it is imperative that sporting organisations also make clear to fans that there are standards of behaviour that are expected. This issue was also discussed in our blogHave a seat and take a stand”.

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Similar articles

PCBU ordered to publicise work health and safety conviction

Bad publicity

When setting a penalty for breaches of work health and safety obligations, the Courts will look at the need for specific deterrence against the offender and also the need for general deterrence for employers and the particular industry.


Leadership and Culture: Workplace Law x Adelaide 36ers

On the eve of the new NBL season, we are excited to announce an innovative partnership between Workplace Law and the Adelaide 36ers centred around the leadership and culture space.


SafeWork NSW successfully prosecutes a PCBU for failing its consultation obligations with other duty holders

Consult, co-operate and co-ordinate

Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) have a range of positive duties and obligations to ensure the health and safety of workers under the model work health and safety laws in Australia.


Post-employment restraint found go beyond what is enforceable

There’s nothing holdin’ me back

It is not common for employment contracts to contain restraint of trade clauses which seek to prevent departing employees from joining competitors or using or disclosing their former employer’s confidential information.


Commission finds employee was dismissed despite “heat of the moment” resignation

Talk before the walk

One of the key elements of a procedurally fair disciplinary process is for the employee in question to be notified of the seriousness of the process (including the potential disciplinary penalties) and to be provided with an opportunity to respond to any allegations before a decision as to disciplinary action has been made.


Application to vary redundancy pay dismissed

No points for the assist

The entitlement to redundancy pay under the National Employment Standards of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) is one which is intended to minimise the adverse impact of a redundancy on affected employees, such as loss of job security and the potential difficulties associated with obtaining new employment in the open market.


Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Signup to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to you inbox.