Fitness facilities should prepare for challenging scenarios with proper staff training and procedures.
Fitness facility management should always be ready for a wide variety of circumstances. It is important to plan a space, train staff, and brief customers with safety as the top priority. Do not take shortcuts and only choose high-quality materials and equipment. Accidents and injuries can be both prevented and successfully confronted with enough education, awareness, and proper planning. A risk management action plan must be formed and implemented with complete foresight and no gaps.
Potential risks must first be identified and audited. Take inventory of any health risks present in the facility. Check all the equipment to ensure they are in good working order and up-to-date on their maintenance schedules. Check the space’s electric or gas lines and systems, as well as ventilation, climate control, and plumbing. Eliminate, take note of the location of, and clearly mark any flammable objects or safety hazards. Make sure that the facility, its equipment, reusables, and any food or beverages are properly sanitized each day. Emergency medical supplies and telecommunications must always be readily available, and their locations should be known by all staff.
Train your staff well in the risk management process and action plan that you devise, which should be in writing. It is important to hire instructors who are certified professionals, and recruits who must deal with children should be thoroughly screened. Provide the team with proper orientation, including a clear outline of procedures for possible scenarios. All staff should be instructed in the proper use of all equipment, and able to orient guests and customers. The facility’s risk management system should be well-oiled and fast-responding. The staff should receive emergency response training, know how to apply first aid, and be ready to call medical personnel and law enforcement for assistance.
Team members should know how to assess the fitness levels of customers while also ensuring regular and accurate record-keeping. Professional fitness instructors know how to guide clients, how to prevent exercise injuries, and when to push people further and to what degree. This is also why customer records must be regularly updated with questionnaires and forms regarding their physical readiness, health conditions, allergies, and previous injuries. Locker rooms and bathrooms should also be regularly checked throughout the day to deter harassment and assault. Drainage and cleanliness should also be meticulously maintained to prevent slipping and disease transfer.
According to the Risk Management Guidebook of Philadelphia Insurance Companies, an optimal emergency plan should consider the following:
- Inspection, Maintenance and Readiness of Proper Emergency Equipment
- Access to the facility for Ambulances/EMS Units
- Public Relations and Employee Welfare
- Shelter, food and medical care
- Radio, TV and press communications
- Fire Fighting
- Facility Protection
- Control of Utilities – gas, electric, water
- Communications (police, fire, medical, other)
- External and Internal: Telephone, 2-way radio, PA system
- Practice Drills
It may not be possible to prevent all unfortunate incidents, but this harsh reality can be mitigated by quick and effective response. Immediately after an incident, it must be properly investigated and reported to identify “who, what, where, when, how, and why” so improvements can be constantly made to the risk management policies and procedures. Furthermore, consult your legal counsel for detailed information on liability, government regulations, and other relevant matters. Excellent training and efficient systems will empower your staff with self-confidence, prevent controversies, and build trust among your customers.
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