The Puck Stops Here

This archived article is from July 2004. Although every effort has been made to make sure the information presented is accurate, please note that it may contain information that is out-of-date.

Millions of Canadians visit arenas regularly as spectators, especially during the hockey season. Deaths are rare, but lost eyes and skull fractures from flying pucks are all too common. Head and face injuries occur when shots deflect into the stands at speeds of up to 150 km/h. The Canada Safety Council has had a longstanding concern that the lack of a national standard made it difficult for those in charge of arenas to know how best to protect spectators.

According to the Canadian Recreation Facilities Council (CRFC), there are over 2,500 community arenas in Canada. CRFC represents the owners and operators of these facilities, many of which date back at least 30 years, and are due for renovations.

Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Canada’s leading developer of standards and codes, has published a new standard designed to reduce the risk of injuries to spectators and non-participants at indoor sporting events. The Canada Safety Council initiated and provided funding to develop the standard, which is the first of its kind in the world.

CAN/CSA-Z262.7-04, Guidelines for Spectator Safety in Indoor Arenas, provides guidance on safety to owners and operators, architects, planners, engineers, construction companies, construction contractors and appropriate inspectors in the design, construction, and operation of indoor arenas.

The new standard is voluntary. It is not retroactive, but can be used to guide future arena renovations and new construction. One of its recommendations is a board and glass system that permanently surrounds each playing area, with a minimum height of 2.4 m at the sides and 3.05 m at the ends of the playing area when measured from the playing surface. Added protection systems may consist of a moveable board and glass system or a moveable safety netting system.

The standard also outlines measures to consider when an object can travel in a direct line from the playing surface to the spectators’ and non-participants’ areas, including:

  • Highly visible warnings on signs throughout the premises;
  • Printed warnings on event tickets;
  • Game time broadcast announcements warning of potential dangers; and
  • Advising spectators that they need to pay attention to objects leaving the playing area during games.

This new standard will serve as an excellent resource for those planning to improve protection for fans, vendors and others in the stands. CRFC fully endorsed the development of the standard and recommends that it be used at indoor arenas across Canada for renovations, upgrades or new construction. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities also supports the standard.

The launch of this standard on May 11, 2004 was covered by media across Canada and in the U.S. The Canada Safety Council hopes other countries will follow Canada’s lead by using the standard when planning safety features in their arenas.