For further health and safety guidance, risk assessment guidance and risk assessment forms see "Documentation" here
The following safety requirements as recommended by the European CEN standards became effective on the 1st of January 2006.
In brief, for both class and individual instruction, a coach is required to:
Ensure all participants equipment conforms to the European CEN standards
Wear protective clothing etc. in accordance with the European CEN standards (i.e. always wear: a mask, a fencing jacket and plastron, a glove and both legs covered)
For a full and definitive list of the European CEN standards please refer to the BFA Safety Guidelines, which can be obtained from BFA HQ or found on the BFA website www.britishfencing.com
The BFA Safety Guidelines point out that, in law, the coach/instructor will be considered to be negligent if a class member is injured during a class through a cause that is foreseeable.
Coaches have a responsibility not only to the sport but also to themselves, to be adequately protected for all class and individual lesson situations. To do otherwise is irresponsible and unprofessional not to mention that it sends the wrong message to others and is more than likely to invalidate their Academy insurance.
The BAF neither support nor condone the increasing common practise of those who choose to give lessons:
- To pupils who are not wearing the appropriate protective clothing etc.,
- Without a coaching plastron, mask or jacket or at any weapon where the swordarm, in particular the armpit is unprotected
Whilst safety must be the primary concern of all coaches when presenting themselves for lessons there are also the concerns of pupils and others to be considered:
Allowing fencers to train without wearing the recommended protective clothing or coaches give lessons without the appropriate level of protection, may not only lead to injury, but can restrict the actions of the pupil or coach
In order to remain safe it is quite common for unrealistic action to be used, for example:
Not fully extending the arm (as the sword may be directed towards unprotected target)
Not trying to hit when they ought to (i.e. avoiding hitting unprotected target)
The coach assuming false/unreal postures and or actions in order to facilitate the pupil’s actions (i.e. minimising the pupil’s chance of hitting unprotected target).
For anyone to say they have been fencing for years and they have never had an accident is tempting fate. In an age of litigate and “no win no fee” insurance claims, can anyone really afford to take the risk?
We should all do our utmost to ensure that all those who participate in our sport do so safely. None of us want to be involved in an accident nor do we want to live with the consequences. The BAF strongly recommends that everyone read the Health and Safety Guidelines as published in the BAF Essential Information for Members booklet and the BFA Safety Guidelines