Risk management from top to bottom
Occasional injuries in a gymnasium or sports facility are to be expected, but they’re usually due to the inherent risk of sports participation. However, no one should ever expect an equipment-related injury.
In-depth equipment inspections should be conducted annually, and visual spot checks every month. Documentation of these inspections is an integral part risk management and can be the key to combatting allegations of negligence or noncompliance in the event of an injury claim. (I’ll add internal link here to our blog post about the popped exercise ball after it posts)
Don’t assume staff is knowledgeable enough to conduct these inspections. If necessary, hire a professional inspection service. Such services usually don’t perform repairs, but can refer you to a company that does. If performing your own in-house inspections, there are areas that can be easily overlooked.
As every grocery store manager knows, people focus on what’s at eye level. Sports facilities often have wall-mounted and/or ceiling-mounted systems, such as basketball nets, storage systems, and lighting. Make it a priority to look up for frayed cables or broken pulleys and mounts. Staff, players and fans are susceptible to serious injuries from stretched cables, loose attachments, or improperly stored equipment.
“If you see something that might be a problem, you need to investigate.” – Nick Cusick, Bison Inc.
Are problems afoot?
The gym floor houses equipment that can poses risks as well. Volleyball nets and soccer goals should be inspected for proper anchoring. Unsecured equipment can fall on players or cause players to trip. Safety wall padding should be checked regularly to ensure none is loose and still in good shape, not torn or worn thin.
Proper and sufficient signage can’t be stressed enough. Not only does it draw attention to safety issues and rules, but is a significant part of any risk management program. In other words, signs protect the public from safety hazards and the gym owner/operator. from potential lawsuits
If you have questions or concerns about safety issues, contact Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance at (800) 622-7370. And don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook!
Source: Emily Attwood, “Inspections, Monitoring Key to Optimal Gym Operation,“ Athletic Business. March, 2014.