A fitness facility policy helps limit organizational risk. To do so, it is necessary to establish a policy with respect to what type of facilities and programs will be offered, what level of staffing will be provided and the minimum qualifications of staff.
Policies and procedures should be developed for the following (note that this list is not inclusive):
● Rules for the safe use of the premises
● Types and frequencies of equipment inspections
● Staff responsibilities
● Staff training
● Emergency procedures
● Physical security
● Cash handling
● Equipment and change room cleaning routines
● First Aid equipment and supplies
● Incident reporting processes (an incident report form specific to the particular facility should be designed and used)
General Risk Management
General risk management issues related to weight rooms and fitness facilities such as equipment and facility layout, signage, rules, maintenance and cleaning and medical information of users are discussed within this informational risk management tool.
The below may serve as guidelines for establishing policies related to risk management in fitness facilities and weight rooms.
1. Medical Information
● Require users to sign and date a health questionnaire before participating in a registered program
● Recommend that users consult a doctor before starting any programs if any of the following medical symptom or problems exist:
o Coronary problems
o High blood pressure
o Joint problems
o Any other significant medical problems
● Require youth and all first-time users to take an equipment familiarity session prior to being permitted to use the equipment
2. Equipment and Facility Layout
● Select quality equipment from a reputable dealer who is able to offer required parts and service.
● Allow adequate space between workout stations and equipment.
● Place climbing walls in an area where access is restricted so that they can only be used when qualified employees are present. This helps ensure that the rope is secure and other safety equipment is being properly used.
● Aerobic programs should be well separated from weight training areas, and preferably in another room. Classes should be limited to a size compatible with the area of the room.
● Place an emergency buzzer in weight rooms to alert staff if a serious problem arises.
● Require that free weights be put away after use (abandoned weights on the floor represent a severe tripping hazard).
● Post Signs indicating:
o The degree of supervision provided in each area
o Users' responsibility to get instruction before using any unfamiliar equipment
o Age requirements
o Clothing requirements (Require non-restrictive clothing and proper footwear)
o Where to report any equipment problems
o Manufacturers' instructions for the equipment (posted on equipment or wall)
o Instructional charts for the proper use of free weight
3. Specific Rules
● Use waiver forms for adults when signing up for fitness tests and registered programs, and informed consent forms for those under the age of 18.
● Do not allow anyone under the age of 16 to use free weights.
● Do not allow children under the age of 12 in the facility.
● Allow 12- to 15-year-olds to use machines and other equipment only if they have taken a proper orientation course or if they are under adult supervision.
● Watch for use of steroids in weight training (especially in teenage boys).
Quick Fact: If an employee is aware of steroids being used, bought or sold in the facility the employee could be found contributory negligent for failing to take action to stop the activity.
4. Maintenance, Cleaning and inspections
● Clean equipment regularly with a solution containing a germicide.
● Clean shower rooms and change rooms as required (at least once daily).
● Use an anti-bacterial agent to prevent the spread of contagious infections.
● Inspect weight rooms and fitness facilities inspections at least daily.
● Properly document daily inspections to ensure equipment and the facility is properly maintained. (A daily building inspection as well as a daily weight room inspection should be conducted)
● Unsafe equipment should be disabled and labelled as Out of Service until it can be repaired or removed.
Supervised vs. Unsupervised
When weight rooms and/or fitness facilities exist in your municipality a decision must be made as to whether to supervise the facility. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and certain measures must be taken under either circumstance:
Facilities with supervision:
● employ properly trained and certified aerobics instructors/counselors;
● require certification for CPR and first aid;
● require minimum certification for personal trainers;
● conduct fitness appraisals should using qualified employees only;
● monitor and evaluate instructors' performances;
● develop written programs for individuals based on their abilities and established goals.
Facilities without supervision:
● place appropriate signs and rules demonstrating proper equipment usage and the fact that no supervision is provided;
● encourage free weight users to use a buddy system;
● conduct inspections of the facilities at least daily.
Activities such as weight training are dangerous to users and attractive to children. As a result, it is recommended that you provide supervision.
Daily Inspection Form: Sample
This daily inspection form template assists in recording and documenting area inspections within fitness facilities. Areas include locker rooms, aerobics areas, exercise equipment, and more.
● All lights are working, covers in place, not damaged Floors/carpets/rugs/mats in good repair
● Mirrors/tiles checked for cracks and chips
● Shower areas are clean and free of accumulated water
● Note any lockers in need of attention
● Premise is clean, refuse removed, floor dry
● Aerobics Area
● Mirrors are in good condition
● Floors are swept
● Electrical cords are safely stored, no extension cords or overloading of power bars
● Exercise Equipment
● Leg extension
● Hip adductor