The NFL must continually and systematically evaluate and monitor the effects of its player safety initiatives.
Chicago, IL (PRWEB) August 18, 2015
Four team members at professional infrastructure and environmental services consultancy Cardno have written a game-changing paper about the National Football League’s (NFL) rule changes meant to lessen player injuries: “Effects of the NFL’s amendments to the Free Kick rule on injuries during the 2010 and 2011 seasons,” published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. The NFL recognizes the chronic health effects associated with playing football, and has enacted policies and rules aimed at improving player health and safety, including the 2011 amendments to the Free Kick rule. The authors report that the amendments did in fact have a positive impact and reduce injury burden—just not in all of the ways the NFL intended.
Increase in Touchbacks = Less Active Play = Decrease in Injuries
Prior to the 2011 season, the NFL implemented amendments to the Free Kick rule, whereby the restraining line was moved from the 30- to the 35-yard line, and all kicking team players other than the kicker were required to line up no more than five yards behind their restraining line.
The goal was to increase touchbacks (where the ball is not returned) and to eliminate the customary 15- to 20-yard running “head start,” thereby reducing injury frequency during special teams play.
The study found that the NFL was successful in reducing injury rates, but only because players were spending less time in active play.
Less Time on the Field – a Viable Player Safety Initiative?
The development of effective injury prevention strategies, while the responsibility of the organization, demands significant attention and scrutiny from players and fans as well. The study offers insight into the proper implementation and monitoring of player safety programs and provides suggestions regarding how to maximize the effectiveness of injury prevention efforts:
> Approach injury prevention on the field as one would approach any hazardous jobsite.
> Follow workplace safety models used in industrial hygiene.
-Hierarchy of hazard controls: elimination/substitution of hazard, engineering controls, administrative controls, personal protective equipment.
-The “Three E’s” approach: modification of the environment, enforcement of rules or regulations, or education of those at risk.
“The NFL must continually and systematically evaluate and monitor the effects of its player safety initiatives. This process is essential to maximizing player safety and ensuring the sustainability of the game,” said Cardno Health Scientist Peter Ruestow. “All organizations must continue to play an integral role in the control of hazards in the workplace that they manage.”
About the Authors – The paper was authored by the following Cardno team:
Peter S. Ruestow, PhD, Health Scientist: nine years’ experience in epidemiological methods, database management, and statistical analysis
Tina J. Duke, MPH, Senior Associate Health Scientist: nine years’ experience in exposure assessment and environmental and occupational epidemiology
Brent L. Finley, PhD, Managing Principal Health Scientist/Executive Vice President: 20 years’ experience conducting and managing studies involving chemical exposures and human health risk assessment
Jennifer S. Pierce, PhD, Senior Managing Health Scientist/Technical Director: 11 years’ experience in toxicology, industrial hygiene, and environmental and occupational epidemiology
About Cardno: Cardno is an ASX200 professional infrastructure and environmental services company, with expertise in the development and improvement of physical and social infrastructure for communities around the world. Cardno’s team includes leading professionals who plan, design, manage and deliver sustainable projects and community programs.
Cardno is an international company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange [ASX:CDD]. http://www.cardno.com