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When Safety Meets Hollywood

When Safety Meets Hollywood

While on the set filming of the latest Star Wars film, it seems Harrison Ford had more to worry about than the Empire after a hydraulic door on the iconic Millennium Falcon failed and crushed its captain, “Han Solo”.

Roller Coasters that coast to a stop

Roller Coasters that coast to a stop

In the Northern Hemisphere Summer there has been a recent spate of roller coaster incidents that have delivered a different type of experience for their adventurous passengers.

Drones – the miss misses and updated rules

Drones – the miss misses and updated rules

The emergence of drones, to date called ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’ or UVA’s has seen the Civil Aviation Authority update their regulations to best reflect the changing use of these small but potentially dangerous aircraft.

When inflatable arches attack!

When inflatable arches attack!

The 2016 Tour de France saw an additional obstacle to the 3,529 kilometres when an inflatable arch, sporting the races main sponsor, deflated during the final section of the seventh stage of the iconic event. 

How Much Does it Cost to Change the Outcome of the Game?

The globalisation of sport has seen sports betting become a near AUS$500 billion dollar a year industry.  With the help of the internet and smart phones, sports betting is now  at our fingertips anywhere, and at anytime. With the increase in money flowing into sports betting, comes the increased risk of match fixing and illegal betting. This is however not a new phenomenon. in 1919 the Chicago White Sox baseball team admitted to throwing the  World Series for cash (and in the case of one player, he traded for free pizza), and in the 1960’s an NFL Most Valuable Player from the Green Bay Packers was caught betting on his own matches – sometimes against himself.

More recently in Australia, the Australian Open was thrown into turmoil by a report published on popular BuzzFeed website making allegations that tennis authorities had failed to investigate match fixing by up to 15 players, including on Grand Slam Winner.  During the resulting media frenzy several players, including some Australians, came out saying they been approached, at times directly and at times via social media about fixing matches.   Australian player Nick Lindahl pleaded guilty to intentionally losing a match in 2013 and informing bettors of his plans in advance of matches. The professional associations in tennis have now established strong anti-corruption programs with strict rules around players, officials and indeed spectator activities at major tennis tournaments around the world.

And now, the New South Wales Organised Crime Squad is investigating matches in the National Rugby League (NRL) with allegations that a small number of players from one club, have links to organised crime and fixing matches.

With the ability of the public to bet so widely on major sporting competitions, and across so many markets, the inherent risks from match fixing will in our view continue to grow. .

The rapid change in technology, the growth in global sports betting market and advertising income derived from sports betting agencies, the influence of sports betting will continue to have a strong influence over sports globally for many years to come; and with it – many threats to the integrity of the game.

Love Lost in the Parade

In Germany last month, the Duisbury District Court rejected prosecution charges against authorities and event organisers of the 2010 Love Parade – where 13 women and 8 men lost their lives; crushed to death when a panicked stampede broke out in the tunnel entrance to the 2010 event. The event was established in 1989 originally in Berlin, as a free-access music festival, with floats, DJ’s and dancers attracting a crowd of around 1.4 million people.   In what has become an important case study in major event planning of crowds internationally, at the incident involved crowds becoming caught up in the tunnel entrance to the event, with certain decisions by authorities being questions as to have exacerbated the circumstances around the crush.

In a summary of the caught ruling was the prosecutors failure to  “establish proof for the acts of negligence the defendants have been charged with, and for their causality".

The prosecution based much of their evidence on reporting a British crowd safety expert, who was criticised for “Contextual and methodological defects” and for impartiality for publicly discussing the case.

And so this legal outcome gives no justice to the families of the victims, and lacks clarity around learnings for future event planners that is founded in law.

Australian Coastline Hammered by East Coast Low

With four lives lost, hundreds of people evacuated, thousands of properties damaged, and parts of vulnerable coastline changed for ever; the east coast of Australia has been hammered by a severe weather event. Earlier this month an east coast low pummelled the Australian coastline from Queensland to Tasmania with several hundred millimetres of rain and winds in excess of 100km/h in some parts. In what may still may become one of Australia’s most expensive natural disasters, this superstorm stretched emergency services and disrupted public transport and outdoor events across four states.

Collaroy on Sydney’s northern beaches lost more than thirty metres of sand and left beachside homes teetering on the edge of the sea. Iconic Surf Clubs such as one at Coogee in Sydney’s east, sustained serious structural damage and Sydney’s popular Vivid festival had its lights dimmed by the torrential rain, shutting down light projections at the Taronga Park Zoo, Martin Place and Darling Harbour. Organisers, urging visitors to delay attending after the city’s Transport Management Centre advised Sydneysiders to ‘avoid all non-essential travel’.

In all this gloom and doom, the rain provided some positives with many parents getting an unexpected break from the weekly tradition of couriering children to weekend sporting commitments.

The Red Bull Big Wave competition, held at the aptly named: ‘Cape Fear’, off Sydney’s Botany Bay was held as wind conditions eased, with waves in excess of 10 metres presenting a real test of competitors skill and their sanity!

This weather event reminds us of the vulnerability outdoor events can be to the weather and the importance of a carefully considered wet weather plan. While this bad weather was predicted days in advance, event organisers should also consider plans that can be enacted at short notice, in the event of deteriorating weather conditions at short notice.

Music Festival Fatalities

This time last year, we wrote about the concerning number of festival-goers who had been found in possession of drugs at a music festival in New South Wales.  We also reported on the proposed response to reports of increased drug use amongst the Australian festival industry, with event organisers working closely with police to enforce strict security and detection measures. This week history has repeated itself as we are saddened by the news of yet another death of a young person at the Stereosonic music festival in Adelaide, reportedly from a drug overdose. As the ABC reported, the death is among five others that have occurred in 2015 at Australian festivals from illicit drug use. One of these took place at the Sydney Stereosonic festival only a week earlier.  At that event, 120 people were treated for drug-related illness.

As the Huffington Post reported, festival headliners and health advocates alike have supported a strategy of offering drug-checking services at festivals, to inform users of the purity of their drugs, and prevent the consumption of dangerous batches of illegal drugs.

As a parent, I struggle with the notion of offering a condoned service in support of drug use to a young adult, however such services are offered at music festivals in Europe.

As debate rages in Australia about the lack of success of current security and law enforcement approaches to drugs at festivals, health advocates are gaining traction in considering other options for managing drug related risks at events.

The use of ‘shooting galleries’ in Kings Cross in Sydney has been widely lauded for its success in reducing overdoses on the streets.  As with the Kings Cross scenario, the same legal dilemma presumably exists for venue managers or land owners of festival sites, for promoting safe drug taking facilities with implied legal impunity while undertaking illegal activities.

I cannot see any professional venue manager in this country assuming such risks in the near future.

Fan Ban

Major sporting codes often tread a fine line between protecting their brand through stringent crowd management measures, and maintaining the passion that makes each sport unique. This has most recently been highlighted in Australia by Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) recent response to alleged unruly crowd behaviour by Western Sydney Wanderers fans. As reported by Fairfax, FFA have been banning individual supporters from attending A-league games, on account of anti-social behaviour. As ABC reported, Wanderers supporter Julian Cumbo was 16 years old when he received a banning notice via email, and then post, notifying him that he was banned from attending games for five years as a result of his involvement in a brawl at a match; this, despite the fact that he had not received a police conviction from the incident. The youth’s ban – with no right to appeal – is reportedly not uncommon amongst Wanderers fans.

A leaked document published by News Corp revealed that the number of banned supporters has recently reached 200. In response to media reports of the leak, CEO of FFA David Gallop referred to the “zero tolerance policy” on anti-social behaviour at A-league matches. Many ‘Red and Black Bloc’ members are disgruntled with the outsourced banning process, particularly with the perceived lack of transparency in reasons for a ban being issued, and the ability of banned persons to appeal. What the ABC termed “mass walkouts” have occurred at both Sydney and Melbourne games late last month, and in a display of unity to demonstrate dissatisfaction with FFA’s tough-stance on crowd behaviour, many fans have chosen not to attend games. The Sunday Telegraph reported that this weekend’s Brisbane versus Western Sydney game at Pirtek Stadium was “eerily” quiet, with fans boycotting the game in response to the restrictions.

While many fans would agree that spectator safety and security is an important element of game attendance, it appears that in the view of many spectators, the sport’s governing body have taken steps to eliminate crowd safety-related brand risk from the venues, only to create another commercial risk to the sport.

In response to the ‘mass walkouts’, the FFA has announced that they will review the bans and appeals process in February of next year. Let’s hope that the conflict can be resolved and that fans can return to watch this great game in safety.

Responding to Paris’ Targeted Assaults

The shocking terrorist attacks in Paris that took place last month may have a lasting impact on the global venue industry, with places of public entertainment being impacted by the tragic events. The coordinated ISIS attacks at concert venue the Bataclan and sporting stadium Stade de France killed 129 people, as BBC News reported, and left widespread terror throughout Paris. In addition to the general heightened fear of further terrorism within the city, with entertainers postponing scheduled Paris tours throughout the remainder of the month, the shorter-term effects included the cancellation of two high-profile sporting matches in London and Germany respectively. As reported by NBC News, these cancellations reportedly occurred because of knowledge that other specific attacks were planned at other locations. However, significant increases to stadium security in nations that are politically connected to the war on terrorism may endure, in light of these recent attacks.

In response to the attacks, the Australian Football league  (AFL) announced a change to its security policy; both protective measures and security labour forces will be increased for all Australian stadiums in which their games are held.  This will help assure spectator and player safety in the face of a high national terror alert.

It remains critically important for Australian venues to ensure a level of readiness to respond to terrorist threats and attacks; training and testing for these emergency scenarios can reduce the impact of such a disaster should it occur. As SKY News reported, Paris had responded to the tragic Charlie Hedbo terrorist attacks in June with rigorous and regular emergency exercises that tested emergency scenarios including mass shootings. Their level of preparedness for the horrific shootings was ideal, with a doctor at the Parisian hospital that received many of the victims stating “we tested every link in every chain.”

The Unexpected Risks of Social Media

The power of social media platforms to capture public attention is something that politicians, celebrities and everyday people have been utilising, as has been well documented over the past several years. However, the potential reputational and legal risks associated with content that ‘goes viral’ on such platforms has increased exponentially in recent times. As the Malaysian Insider reported, photos of naked men that were taken in Sabah’s Kinabalu Park have circulated through Facebook and landed in the hands – or under the eyes – of Malaysian authorities. Sabah Parks' Minister for Tourism, Culture and Environment has said that tourists to the islands will be required to acknowledge and abide by local regulations, by way of declaration forms.  These would act as an accountability measure to ensure that tourists are made aware of local customs, where the tourism industry has failed to do so, and discount any offending tourists’ claims that they ‘did not know’ that nudity is forbidden.

As the Daily Mail reported, Islamic rules relating to nudity forbid men and women being seen naked by others, with the exclusion of married couples. Anyone parading in the nude and posing for photographs in public, would thus be breaching Islamic laws that rule over the Sabah Park region. As the Malay Mail Online reported, one man has been arrested, and will be investigated, in response to authorities becoming aware of a separate set of images containing nudity taken on a Sabah island earlier this year, and published on social media.

It serves as yet another reminder of the risks associated with social media use.

Not so Free to Roam the Skies

Earlier this year, we reported on the popularity and related restrictions imposed on the ‘selfie stick’; the hand-held gadget used to take photographs from a distance of up to two metres away from the subject. In the same category of remotely-controlled digital devices that allow photo-capturing ‘at a distance’, is the drone. The availability of drones to recreational users has seemingly been met with enthusiasm by the public all over Australia, the US and in other countries with access to advanced technology.   However, increasing concerns over the safe use of drones by amateurs are reflected in increasing scrutiny by authorities, and banning by public venues.

Up until now, the recreational use of drones has been restricted by safety guidelines established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US. These are published on the ‘Know Before You Fly’ website, and include that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) must be flown no higher than 400 feet, avoid other aircraft, and be used only by competent operators. Organisations intending to use images captured by drones for business purposes – including government agencies – must apply to the FFA for permission. This provides a measure of control in regulating data collection through surveillance.

As reported in The Washington Post, the FAA has acknowledged that in spite of current regulations for the operation of UAVs, they have been unable to ensure the safe control of the national airspace for all aircraft users. Following from this admission, the US airspace regulator announced that it will assign a task force to establish control measures for recreational drone operators, with a view to having those rules in place by December of this year. Such measures are likely to include the compulsory registration of drone operators and purchasers across America, provisions for current owners, and the introduction of penalties associated with breaching safety regulations or failing to register.

As reported by Australian law firm Corrs, Australia has less restrictive laws than the US in relation to the flying of drones. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is currently reviewing and modernising the regulation of drones, and expects this to be released next year. They report that there is speculation that Australian regulators will introduce more stringent regulations for safety and privacy purposes.

Currently under the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, drones (weighing more than 100g and less than 100kg) cannot generally be flown:

  • higher than 400 feet;
  • within 10m horizontally and 30 feet vertically of a person (although there are exceptions to this prohibition for those involved in operating the UAV and others standing behind the UAV on take off);
  • over a large group of people at a height from which, if any of its components fail, it would not be able to clear the area;
  • over or near prohibited or restricted areas (such as an aerodromes or restricted military areas);
  • in conditions other than Visual Meteorological Conditions (i.e. bad weather);
  • in or into a cloud; or
  • at night.

It may be possible to use a drone outside some of the above restrictions:

  • with the approval of CASA or another relevant authority (such as air traffic control); or
  • if the UAV is being operated within the sight of the UAV pilot.

It is illegal to fly drones in a manner which is hazardous to property, a person or another aircraft; with a maximum penalty of up to AUD$8,500 possible.

Dropping off parcels or other items is however legal as long as nothing is discharged from a UAV in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person or property.

In addition, companies that use UAVs must obtain an operator’s certificate from CASA, and any individual that flies a UAV for commercial gain must have a controller’s certificate.

As the popularity of drones in outdoor spaces has exploded, their use by event organisers and trade operators in indoor arenas has also increased, with several examples being raised by clients of Reliance Risk in Arenas. Needless to say, the desired ‘wow factor’ needs to be balanced against safety concerns for occupants below, with a very low margin for error, should something go wrong.  As a result many arenas are now banning their use indoors.

Safety at Carnivals

Three girls enjoying rides at a theme park in Liverpool, NSW last weekend were flung from their carriage as its door  opened mid-air, and fell four metres to the ground. As reported by the ABC, emergency services were called and the teens were taken to hospital, where they were treated for injuries that included a fractured pelvis, and rib and arm wounds. The incident is not isolated, with others involving rides at theme parks having been reported over the past several years across Australia.  This highlights the importance of strict safety management systems for carnivals, and the need for close monitoring and oversight by operators, venues and regulators.

As was reported in the Brisbane Times, in 2013, a five-year-old boy was flung five metres from a mechanical swing-type ‘Frisbee’ ride at a school carnival in Queensland, while in 2010, three young girls fell to the ground when a ferris wheel in Byron Bay broke down mid-ride; the riders in these cases survived.   An incident involving the ‘360’ ride at the Royal Adelaide Show in September last year was another example of an amusement ride resulting in fatal consequences. As Adelaide Now reported, SafeWork SA has not yet released findings of the investigation into the incident, however, they reported a doubling of the number of inspectors at this year’s Show. In March of this year, the 33-metre-tall Green Lantern rollercoaster at Queensland’s Movie World was stopped mid-ride after a carriage’s wheel fell off, leaving six people stranded in the faulty carriage until emergency services could rescue them.

Specific stringent maintenance and safety protocols in place for carnival equipment have been established through Standards set by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA).  In addition, in this country the Australian Standard AS 3533.2—2009 for Amusement Rides and Devices provides proprietors and staff with requirements and guidance for the operation and maintenance of amusement rides and devices, in order to protect the health and safety of both operating staff and patrons. Rides are also regulated through state WorkSafe regulators as plant under Work Health and Safety laws. As ABC reported, in response to the Green Lantern malfunction this year, Movie World’s General Manager reassured the public that rides at the theme park are inspected for safety hazards twice-daily by engineers and ride operators, while a complete dismantle of rides occurs weekly to check individual components of the equipment.

High motion and movement rides such as ferris wheels and rollercoasters tend to attract the eye of state safety regulators, particularly given the number of reported cases involving patrons and the potential risks given the high energies involved.  In the lead up to events featuring rides, venue managers are well advised to conduct appropriate due diligence of all ride operators to ensure appropriate maintenance logs, safety documentation and start up safety checklists are provided and checked.

Hayne’s Successful Switch

While current news of the new San Francisco 49er Jarryd Hayne may be focussed on an on-field fumble and the team’s recent thrashings, the bravery and success of his move from Australian rugby league to American football has deservedly brought more attention than the dropped catch. As ABC reported, Hayne’s career in the NRL playing for the Parramatta Eels was full of highlights, including the 2009 Dally M Medal and the 2014 NRL Player of the Year alongside Johnathan Thurston.

Perhaps because of his successive triumphs in the code, the 26-year-old sportsman sought a challenge. As Courier Mail reported, in an open letter to Eels members in September, Hayne delivered news of his decision to pursue a career in America’s National Football League. Eels Chairman Peter Sharp was “devastated” and shocked to see him depart. With no experience in American football, Hayne’s code-switch dream in the USA seemed a far cry from his established position as a high-paid rugby league player with a guaranteed salary and sponsorship.

Chances for an American college-level gridiron player who has played since high school making it to the professional level are slim, with just 1.6% of NCAA college players likely to be drafted by the NRL, as reported on the NCAA’s website.

However, any questions regarding whether the Australian could transfer his skills to the new code and win the backing of a coach have been laid to rest. His gamble has paid off; Hayne was drafted for the practice runs of the so called “glamour club” of NFL – the 49ers, made the finals, and was offered an active position as punt-returner amongst 45 of its other players for the official season.

The move brings additional rewards for the NFL and 49ers, in the form of inherited Australian fans tuning in to NFL broadcasts to watch their adored sportsman. Indeed, all eyes are on Hayne; as reported on News Australia, his Australian following was disappointed with what was deemed his “big mistake” on the world stage, dropping the ball at the season’s opening game against the Vikings. He has managed to turn the ill-fated beginning of his debut performance around, setting up his team’s sole touchdown in a recent game against the Arizona Cardinals, with coach Jim Tomsula saying that he was “very happy” with him.

The success of Hayne’s move to an American sport may bring an element of risk to all major Australian football codes, whose salary offerings are dwarfed by the NFL. On the contrary, there has been some recent success with athletes moving into the Australian market. As ABC reported, all-American athlete Jason Holmes’ transition from basketball to Australian football has proven worthwhile, with the 25-year-old current playing as midfielder on the St Kilda Saints senior grade team.

Manslaughter Charge on Account of Gross Negligence

The proprietor of Adelaide trucking company Colbert Transport, Peter Colbert has been charged with manslaughter on account of neglecting to maintain the safety of a truck, a failure that has been judged as the cause of a driver’s tragic death in March of last year. As ABC reports, employee Robert Brimson was on a job involving what would have been a 50-kilometre drive in north Adelaide, when he encountered heavy traffic on a main road. A camera in the vehicle captured his realisation that the truck’s brakes were defunct, while reports of drivers close to the scene suggest that he swerved away from nearby cards and collided with a pole. Tragically, he died at the scene of the accident.

As Adelaide Now reported, Mr. Colbert received a guilty verdict for manslaughter, with the court finding that he had failed to act on numerous warnings to have the truck’s faulty brakes repaired prior to the incident.

As ABC reported, the transport owner’s shady past of “risk-taking” antics on the road and indecent assault brought his repute strongly into question. However, the message is loud and clear for employers whose workers undertake driving related to their employment, particularly in vehicles provided by the organisation.

Under Australian legislation, all employers are required to protect workers from foreseeable harm that could be encountered during their course of employment. As mandated by the Australian Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, employers should take into account the nature of risks associated with the type of work undertaken by employees, to enact control measures that minimise the likelihood of injury in the workplace environment.

For organisations whose employees drive for work purposes, managing driver safety with proactive control systems that monitor to ensure vehicular road-fitness represents good practice in fulfilling legislative obligations proactively, and potentially, prevent the loss of life. As owner and manager of an organisation whose primary function is the operation of vehicles, Mr. Colbert’s inactions in complying with the Standard to provide a safe workplace in his vehicles seem particularly shocking.

Hajj Disaster

A shocking and fatal stampede near Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mosque at this year’s Muslim pilgrimage has brought serious calls for a review of the Saudi government’s initiatives to protect the safety of the two million annual visitors who perform the Hajj. As reported in The Guardian, the government’s initial reports of 769 deaths occurring from a crowd crush near Mecca have been revised up with total deaths from the stampede now estimated at over 1,000. The incident echoes that of the Hajj in 1990, whereby 1,426 pilgrims lost their lives in the holy city.

Saudi authorities had taken preventative measures to prevent injury following the death of 350 people in the 2006 Hajj. Measures included increasing security personnel and significant renovations to expand the Grand Mosque. However, as BBC News reported, the safety risk lies not so much in the structures of the site, but in the “sheer number” of people travelling within confined spaces that surround the Grand Mosque.

Crowd density and flow rate within a space are key factors to consider when developing strategies to prevent harm arising from overcrowding.

Goodes on Him – or Not?

An act of celebration by Indigenous footballer Adam Goodes at the Sydney Cricket Ground earlier this year brought the issue of racial discrimination back onto the public agenda, igniting a very public debate on the issue last month. As the Herald Sun reported, the 35-year-old Swans player ‘war-danced’ provocatively towards Carlton fans in the crowd after his team scored a goal mid-match during the annual AFL Indigenous Round in May earlier this year. The opposition spectators at whom this dance was targeted met him with booing and jeering; with police and security attending but no charges laid. The ABC reported that following the match, Goodes described his war dance as a tribute to Aboriginals in sport. He said that spectators’ anger towards his actions showed a misunderstanding.

As a follower of both the Swans and of Carlton, I was at the SCG that day and observed what appeared to be an unprovoked gesture by Goodes toward Carlton supporters, which seemed out of place in the context of the match. So it is in my view understandable that such a misunderstanding may have occurred. Unlike New Zealand’s pre-match ancestral war cry, “the haka” performed by Kiwi national sporting teams toward their opposition, Goodes’ dance was not a ‘known’ ritual that sporting crowds have come to expect.

Following the incident, public opinion was divided as to whether negative crowd reactions to his dance reflected poor judgement on Goodes’ part, or a broader racist undercurrent against indigenous players. Over several weeks the matter however escalated with excessive booing and crowd hostility toward Goodes saw him taking time off away from the sport to recover.

As the 2013 Australian of the Year, Goodes has been a strong advocate for indigenous issues and highlighting the significant contribution that indigenous people have made to Australian sport. While the issues surrounding Goodes have drifted from the front page of newspapers, the incident has highlighted the ongoing challenges and risks faced in assuring tolerance of all across the community and in sport.

Baseball Death

An accident during a junior baseball game at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Kansas tragically left a nine-year-old boy dead, highlighting ongoing concerns for player safety in the game irrespective of the level of professionalism. As UK Independent reported, Kaiser Carlile was volunteering as bat boy for the summer league ‘Liberal Bee Jays’ when he was accidentally hit by a batter taking practice swings, and treated on-site by a paramedic for head injuries. He sadly passed away on the following evening. The tragedy has resulted in the Congress banning the use of bat boys for the remainder of the Championships. While he had been wearing a helmet, as is mandatory for bystanders and players alike, it did not sustain the impact of the blow.

The National Society to Prevent Blindness in America rates baseball as a moderate to high risk sport, noting the high number of fatalities in leagues that range from grassroots to professional. In the ‘bat-and-ball’ games of baseball and cricket, risk management measures range from safety equipment to the rules of the game. However it seems that mitigating the risk of player, fielder and spectator injury from errant balls, bowls and swings is particularly difficult. The immense speed at which balls can travel by a struck a ball cannot always be contained by safety equipment.

The tragic passing of cricketing champion, batsman Phillip Hughes last year serves as a reminder of the risks in playing the game. He was killed by a ball in a ‘freak accident’, as the Daily Telegraph then reported; while the likelihood of his fatal injury occurring was ‘rare’, the risk of harm in playing cricket is inherent. While learning safer techniques and protective equipment may go some way in protecting the facial safety of players, for baseballers and cricketers alike, the risk of injury is foreseeable and it currently remains up to individual players – or in junior sport, their parents – as to whether the rewards of the sport are worth the risk.