Following a hammer related incident last year, UK Athletics announced plans to bring all UK throws cages in line with World Athletics safety standards.
In most cases existing cages in England can be modified to meet the new standard, and both UK Athletics and England Athletics have been working closely with facility operators to provide guidance and advice on the modifications required, and signposting to a specialist group of contractors who have the expertise and competence to be able to carry out throws cage improvement work.
Ed Hunt, England Athletics’ Facilities Manager, said:
"The safety of athletes, coaches, officials and spectators is of paramount importance, and facilities and clubs in England have responded positively to the call to modernise and update their throws cage facilities.
"With our support, we’ve helped clubs facilitate modification and upgrade works in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, which for most has been modifications to existing cages."
There are already 65 throws cages in England that meet the new standard: 26 modified cages, 36 World Athletics specification cages and 3 brand new World Athletics certified cage installations.
Ed continues: "By working closely with a small, expert group of specialist contractors we’ve been able to offer tailored throws cage solutions that are achievable within the proposed timeframes for compliance. All clubs and facilities that are yet to make changes and need support should get in touch, we are here to help and support."
Below are a few case studies and examples of works carried out at athletics venues across the country. A few that have had new cages installed and others that have had modifications made to existing cages.
London Stadium / The London Marathon Community Track
Sport & Play Limited installed the innovative Thor 9 cage at the London Stadium prior to last year’s Diamond League. The innovative and unique three pole cage design and gateless system means that outside of major events in the main London Stadium, the cage can be dismantled and re-installed at the adjacent London Marathon Community Track, home of Newham and Essex Beagles, providing them with a high quality cage for both training and competition purposes.
Ashton Playing Fields
Another installation of the innovative Thor 9 cage by Sport & Play Limited, at Ashton Playing Fields in Woodford Green. Home to Woodford Green & Essex Ladies Athletic Club, the facility includes an eight-lane track, competition specification hammer and throws cage, two long/triple jump pits, javelin and shot put areas, high jump and pole vault facilities. Installation of the new cage benefits both the club and members of the public who also have access to athletics facilities.
Harvey Hadden Athletics Track
Harvey Hadden is the home of Notts Athletic Club and the venue is managed by Nottingham City Council. In August 2019, Hillsport carried out cage modification work to a single circle cage at the venue, which involved extending the existing gates in order to reduce the hammer throw danger zone angle from 76o to 53o. The cage work was completed in September and the venue now has a fully compliant, safety inspected cage that meets all the requirements of World Athletics.
Tudor Grange Athletics Track
ProAthletics carried out modification works to an existing cage at Tudor Grange athletics track in August. Home to Solihull and Small Heath Athletic Club, and managed by Everyone Active, the venue had a UKA specification cage located adjacent to the 200m start, which meant it was classified as high risk, as there was a greater likelihood of right handed discus and hammer throws reaching the track on the back straight. ProAthletics modified the cage by increasing the widths of both gates, which then decreased the danger zone angles for both discus and hammer and removed the risk of errant throws reaching the track.
Cage inspections and modification work should be commissioned as soon as possible and, as a minimum, an independent Unit 1 cage safety inspection must have been carried out by 4 April 2020 in order for a venue to be considered for competitions.
Steps to review and initiate cage upgrades:
- Contact the venue and make them aware of the need for a cage inspection.
- Ask the venue to contact Ed Hunt at England Athletics and/or visit the Health & Safety section of UKA’s website.
If you are not aware of any cage modifications or cage safety inspections having taken place at the facility where you train, then you should contact your operator as a matter of urgency and ask them to contact England Athletics’ Facilities and Planning Manager – Ed Hunt: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below are website links for the three approved contractors for cage work, who completed works at the facilities in the examples above.