Adaptive Rower Risk Assessment

12 Mar

It’s mid-March and another Marlow training session is cancelled due to risk assessment today (ie. recent weather has made our section of the Thames too fast and too cold, and also the wind if moderate as well as against the current). Risk assessment is a standard operating procedure for adaptive/pararowing coaches. For that matter, it is for all rowing coaches, but it’s more complex with adaptive rowing as well as more likely to result in a session cancellation or requirement for substantial mitigation.

All risk assessment starts with the best practice of doing individual risk assessments on the adaptive athletes themselves when they first start rowing. In general, all rowing clubs do some form of risk assessing for their rowers and certainly for conditions. Most of the time, they are not methodical nor recorded. At Marlow, we have been operating for years with only a few structured and written risk assessments for certain cases (usually PR1s). In our member database, we do have a two very basic risk assessment fields where we note the key risk of their impairment and how we address it.

But if you want to do a more formal risk assessment, Mark Dewdney, the Adaptive Coach and Coordinator at Stratford-upon-Avon Rowing Club, described their approach:

  • Our risk assessment includes a description of the athlete and their condition and how it affects them. Medications if relevant. From that it states a list of general safety areas that we have considered. From the above we define a list of protocols that apply to that particular individual. I have never called them mitigations but that is what they are. So these might include – crew boats only, specialist launch mandatory, pfd, all the way through to us carrying medicines. It should be noted these are protocols over and above the normal club ones. As a result, the plan is not a replacement for but rather an addition to normal club practice. I have one of these assessments and plans for every adaptive athlete I have ever had. They are very simplified form of an approach defined by Clive Killick (who did a lot of the risk assessment for the 2012 Olympic regatta and rowed at a local club). I send one to the CSA before any newbie is put on the water. This is based on an interview. As part of that I go through the BR Pre-Activity Health Declaration with them. I review the RAs quarterly or six-monthly dependent on how long the person has been around (so all mine have been reviewed since Mar 22 earliest). With newbies at the end of the first month, after the capsize drill, etc. Obviously, some RAs do not change a lot or at all. Our CSA has a full set, although the previous CSA managed to lose all the copies i sent him. I have done so many they tend do not take long to do.”

Also, City of Oxford RC Coach and Coordinator Hannah Germain shared their risk assessment tools (in both a word document version and a spreadsheet one):

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