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    Duty of Care to Whom?

    There is a lot to be said for knowledge and experience in all areas of life.  It is only when you are faced with a consequence that knowledge and experience will be of benefit.  How much knowledge and experience does someone need to know the potential of a consequence?

    Last weekend I heard a story regarding a new match official who was in a position of having to use knowledge and experience against a backdrop of potential consequences.  This was the situation.  It was this match official’s second game that he had refereed; it was the second half with approximately 20 minutes to go and the score was 12/10.  A scrum was packed and a player was left injured on the ground with an unknown but significant enough injury to stop the game on the basis that it could have been a serious neck or back injury. On to the field come well-meaning managers, who want to pick him up and take him out of play so the game can continue. The match official, who had recently attended a duty of care seminar, said that they were not to move him and that he would phone for an ambulance,  which he did, but the ambulance would be at least 20 minutes.  Do you move the player knowing the risk?  If there were no other players around you wouldn’t move him but there were cries of “let’s continue the game.”   The game was more important to the players than the player was. The managers started to move the player; the match official told them that if they physically moved the player that he would leave the ground.  Consequently he called off the game and left the ground.  The ambulance arrived; the player was taken to hospital for observation and it was discovered that he had sustained a back injury.

    We all have a duty of care to not only know the circumstances but also the consequences.  When you make decisions based on a duty of care then the consequences will have far less exposure to risk.

    The match official did the right thing, as he was the only one who showed a duty of care.  It is not only paramount in business but in all walks of life. The consequences of not respecting duty of care could have been quite dire for this particular player.

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