Archive for the ‘Health Clubs’ Category

Injuries at Gyms and Homes

Thousands suffer in pursuit of fitness

Fitness Instructor Insurance and Health Club Insurance is in high demand due to frequent gym injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the following injury statistics occurred in 2009:

  • 1500 emergency room visits resulting from equipment related
    mishaps in gyms
  • 50,000 emergency room visits from home exercise equipment incidents including treadmill falls, exercise ball falls, elastic stretch band hits to face, and dropping free weights on feet.
  • Treadmills are the number one cause of equipment related injuries with 575 occurrences of falling off and tripping
  • Weight machines and free weights caused 224 injuries.
  • Common gym equipment related injuries include broken ankles,fractured arms, fractured legs, and fingertip amputations.

Fitness instructors cite the following reason for gym/exercise related injuries:

  • Inattention due to Ipods, cell phones, and reading
  • Using equipment for the first time without proper instruction
  • Working out too hard, too soon after a period of inactivity.

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35127528/ns/health-fitness/

Fitness trainer settles wrongful termination lawsuit

Why fitness centers need Employment Practices Liability insurance

A fitness trainer settled his claim that he was wrongfully terminated by his employer, Best Fitness for $32,500. Salvatore Rachuna alleged he was fired because of complaints he made about a manager who repeatedly made inappropriate and lewd remarks in the presence of Best Fitness customers.

Rachuna was hired by Best Fitness in 2008 and worked in various positions in their Tonawanda, N.Y., and Erie, Penn., locations. In 2012 he began working under a new manager. His lawsuit claims that his supervisor repeatedly made “sexually advancing” comments regarding Best Fitness members and employees, both male and female. Rachuna’s complaint states the manager regularly discussed male genitalia size and the sexual activity of others and told sexual jokes about underage females.

Management’s response

Rachuna complained to the corporate vice president of personal training, who just happened to be the manager’s wife. He reported that he was uncomfortable and the behavior disruptive to the workplace. The only action she took was to tell Rachuna to “push back” anytime the manager, her husband, conducted himself inappropriately. The manager’s inappropriate behavior continued, so Rachuna made a formal complaint to the Best Fitness chief executive and human resources director in August, 2012. According to Rachnuna, his termination on Sept. 9, 2012 was a retaliatory action against his repeated complaints.

This case was one of two discrimination cases against Best Fitness arising from alleged actions of the Best Fitness manager. A separate complaint filed by a former group fitness director is pending. None of the complaints named the manager as a defendant.

What management can do

Defending against such claims can be costly. Employment practices lawsuits of this nature highlight the need for fitness centers to purchase Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI), which can be purchased on a stand-alone basis or as part of a Directors & Officers Liability policy. EPLI policies generally cover the big three: discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination/discipline, plus a host of other employment related offenses.

If you are interested in a quote for this coverage, contact Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance or any other aspect of Fitness Traininer insurance. We will provide a simple form to complete that will allow us to provide you with a quick quote.


Source: Lisa Thompson, “Erie fitness center settles lawsuit,” Erie Times-News. 17 Aug, 2014.

 

 

Risks that Could Put Your Fitness Center Out of Business (Infographic)

Taking care of the not-so-obvious

Running a fitness center is no small feat due to the constant management of contract employees, members, front desk agents, maintenance staff and the like. Collecting member dues and keeping your numbers up is probably one of your greatest concerns, but you also have major risks that you need to manage in order to survive.

Fitness Center

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The 5 Hidden Risks

Disaster-related loss
Studies have shown that nearly 60% of businesses are underinsured, leaving them vulnerable to significant losses in the face of natural disasters. Protect your fitness club by investing in adequate health club insurance coverage and having a set recovery plan in place to minimize your risk for total loss.

Emergency losses
Accidents happen every day – explosions, violent acts, outbreaks of disease such as Legionella. These incidents can significantly impact both your finances and your reputation.  Speak with your insurance agent and make sure that your business is adequately covered for catastrophic liability and property losses.

Cyber-security breach
You store a lot of member data on your computer system: birthdays, home addresses, and even credit card numbers are kept on file. Did you know that nearly half of all businesses have experienced a data breach? However, only one in 10 of those businesses are covered for cyber liability.  A Cyber Risk policy should protect your fitness center from client data breaches in the event that negligence on the part of your company is determined to be the cause of breach.

Personal trainer liability
If your fitness facility employs personal trainers, you may be liable for their negligent behavior, even if they’re only contract employees. Sexual harassment, physical injury, even poor dietary advice can result in a lawsuit against your company. It is safest to require your contract trainers to carry their own General Liability/Professional Liability policies.  However, some fitness facilities choose to add coverage for contract trainers under their fitness facility policy.

Treadmill Injuries
You see them all the time. One of your clients will be running on a treadmill, nose in a book, texting, or bobbing along to their iPod. Such multitasking often leads to injuries for which you are likely to be liable. The average cost of any treadmill-related incident is $250,000.

Protecting your fitness facility from injury claims

Did you know that Fitness Center Insurance is critical for all health clubs and gyms? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin you and or your business. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Getting the right insurance coverage does not have to be complicated if you work with an agency like SADLER. The insurance experts at SADLER understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your fitness facility. If you would like to learn more about liability prevention or are ready to get a customized insurance quote, simply apply online now or call 800-622-7370.

There are absolutely no obligation or commitments, and your quote will be sent in just a few hours in most cases. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, you’ve got nothing to lose!

 

Source – Hidden Risks Faced by Fitness Centers

 

Safety in the Gym

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.

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.

Looking up

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.

 

 

Fitness Trainers: How To Avoid Liability Landmines (Infographic)

Legalities, liabilities and other not-so-fun stuff

Anyone willing to start up a business and risk personal and financial loss to live their dream has to have imagination.The fitness industry has its share of entrepreneurs, as seen in the boon of independent fitness instructors and personal trainers.

The practical aspects of creating and maintaining a business are just as important as creativity, passion and energy. Liability will always be an issue for fitness trainers because they offer a personal service. Protecting yourself, your business and your assets is a significant element of a successful personal training business. The first layer of protection is determining if you could defend yourself if a client under your supervision were to become injured. The key questions listed below the infographic will help you make this determination.

Protecting Clients

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  • Are you adequately trained and certified in the activities you supervise?
  • How did you screen the client for the activity in which he/she was involved?
  • Did the client sign an informed consent and release form?
  • Was the client given instructions appropriate for his/her age and health conditions?

Paperwork can be pesky, but it’s crucial

There are essential documents your clients must sign before receiving any services. Keeping these documents on file is important and might be be the key to any potential claim against you. Have an attorney review a draft of these documents to make sure you’re protected and looking out for the clients’ best interests. Below are four documents that should be part of  an independent personal trainer’s arsenal and signed by every client prior to any training :

  1. Waiver/release and assumption of risk.  At best, the waiver / release part of this form will allow the fitness trainer to escape liability by having the lawsuit dismissed on summary judgment. At worst, this form will help the trainer to establish an assumption of risk defense. This document should be reviewed with the client and the client be given the opportunity to ask questions about the risks and benefits of the program. The client should be over 18 years of age to sign or have a parent/guardian sign the form.
  2. Client records. Keep detailed records of all observations, program changes and instructions for each client. It’s important to include all special instructions, warnings or limitations, progress notes, and injury information including details of any aid administered.
  3. Physician consent/clearance. Clients you consider to be high or moderate risk should be required to obtain medical clearance. Risk level can be assessed by going over the client’s health and exercise history.
  4. Fitness assessment. Determining whether clients can safely participate in an exercise program without any obvious risks injury. An initial screening helps you establish the client’s fitness level and set goals for their individual program. Follow-up assessments should be repeated occasionally to monitor progress.

Risky business

Many personal trainers sell dietary supplements and offer nutritional advice to their clients. Counseling clients on supplements can be risky for trainers not specifically educated and certified in those areas. Only registered dieticians should recommend or supply nutritional supplements. Believe it or not, a personal trainer who supplies or distributes supplements can get caught up in a product liability suit.

Spotting potential risks

It’s important to let your clients know your job is to help, not push. Clients may, for whatever reason, neglect to inform trainers of a “minor” ache or pain. Let your clients know that their program can always be modified to avoid injuries, which often occur when red flags are ignored. Let clients know you’re trained to determine the difference between general soreness and actual strain.

Other helpful articles and downloadable forms are available on our risk management page.

Protecting you and your business from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all fitness trainers? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your and your fitness training business. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Finding the right insurance coverage doesn’t have to be complicated. Our insurance experts understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your personal training business.

If you would like to learn more about liability prevention or are ready to get a customized insurance quote, apply online now or call us 800-622-7370.

There are no obligation or commitments when you call, and your quote will be sent in just a few hours in most cases. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, you’ve got nothing to lose.

 

Source: “The Liability Involved in Running a Personal Training Business,” entrepreneur.com. 22 May, 2014.

Maintaining Fitness Center Equipment

An ounce of prevention could be worth hundreds of thousands

Did you hear the one about the fellow lifting weights while using a large exercise ball to support his back? As he was pumping two 40-lb. dumbbells in this position, the exercise ball seam suddenly split, deflating the ball and sending the man crashing to the floor. He suffered injuries to his wrists and back, which were treated, but he sued the fitness club and the manufacturer and distributor of the exercise ball for more than $5 million. Turns out he was an aspiring golfer hoping to join the PGA. He claimed the injuries derailed his career and potential prize winnings and product endorsement earnings.

Not just another frivolous lawsuit

The plaintiff alleged, among other things, that the club neglected “to conduct timely and adequate inspections of equipment for defects and potential hazards such as damage or excessive wear.” His claims were based on the ball manufacturer’s instructions indicating the product had a one-year life expectancy and should be checked “for wear “before each use.

After spending 2.5 years in court and hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees, a settlement was reached when the the fitness center was unable to document the date exercise ball was first put in use or provide an inspection record.

Preventing easily avoidable accidents

The manufacturers of each piece of equipment from treadmills to yoga mats comes with life expectancy and maintenance guidelines. To minimize the risk of Exercise ballan explosive situation like the one above, pay attention to, follow, and document compliance with the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations.

Replacing a piece of equipment is much cheaper, and safer, than the alternative.

A fitness center monthly equipment maintenance check should include, but is not limited to:

  • TV entertainment equipment and mounts .
  • Calibration and cleaning of cardio equipment per manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Inspection of treadmill belts and decks for wear.  Lubricate as needed.
  • Removal of treadmill motor shrouds for internal vacuuming.
  • Inspection of elliptical mechanical parts for wear. Lubricate as needed.
  • Inspect/lubricate bike chains, cranks, pedals and straps and replace as required.
  • Inspection of all strength training equipment, including but not limited to: adjusting cables, belts, pulley alignment, tightening bolts and adjusting range of motion cams.
  • Inspection of exercise class equipment, i.e. balls, steps, bands, weights, etc.

Source: Jeffrey Long.    To Avoid Lawsuits, Health Clubs Must Heed Equipment Life Expectancy,” Athletic Business. Sept. 2013

Defibrillator Failure: Fitness Center Liability

The importance of understanding and complying with AED laws

 Maintenance of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) and proper use are key to an effective emergency plan. A recent complaint filed in New York illustrates why health club owners must weigh the pros and cons of housing AEDS.*

The lawsuit was brought by a widow of a club member who died of cardiac arrest during a workout. Apparently, employees attempted to use both of the AEDs on the premises, only to discover a dead battery in one and none in the other, resulting in an unsuccessful revival attempt.

A laundry list of defendants and claims

Defendants in the case include the health club owner, Zee Medical, the seller of one AED, Hewlett Packard, Agilent Technologies, Philips Healthcare, and manufacturers and distributors oDefibrillatorf the second AED. The allegations include:

  • Failure to house functioning AEDs, as legally required in New York
  • Failure to properly maintain and test the AEDs
  • Failure to have in place proper equipment maintenance and testing procedures
  • Failure to properly train staff members in the use, maintenance, and testing of AEDs.

Allegations in the suit state that Zee sold the AED to the health club without a a battery and failed to provide a representative to install a battery and prepare the AED for proper use.  The complaint also alleges causes of action for product liability and breach of warranty.

Risk management is the key

It will be quite a while before this case goes to trial, and who’s to say a working AED would have saved this person’s life? The point is, failure of this type is easy to prevent, and a good AED representative can assist you in reducing risks by providing proper training on AED compliance.


*Arkansas, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have laws requiring AEDs in health clubs.
Source: Richard Lazar. “Lawsuit Claims Two Non-Working Health Club AEDs Led to Member’s Sudden Cardiac Death,” Readiness Systems. 03 Mar. 2014.

Hiring Fitness Club Staff (Infographic)

Should you hire employees or independent contractors?

As a health club owner, you’ve likely looked at reducing employment and liability-related costs by hiring personal and group trainers, massage therapists and other client-dependent workers. There are both pros and cons when hiring employees and independent contractors.

Many club owners hire both employees and independent contractors, depending on the job and/or unique circumstances involved. The following points in the Infographic and information that follows it might help you to decide which is best for your business.

Trainers: Employees or Contractors

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  • When paying an independent contractor a flat fee or agreed upon percentage of services rendered, the club isn’t compensating the contractor unless he/she is generating revenue.
  • Many independent trainers and massage therapists offer their clients personal services off premises and many often sell supplements and therapeutic products as well. The club owner may face sales competition if those same or similar products are sold in the club.
  • Hiring an independent contract reduces the owner’s liability for negligence or errors & omissions by shifting much of this risk to the independent contractor. Club owners should request a current certificate of liability insurance from the contractor (and keep it on file) that lists the club as an “additional insured” on the policy.
  • It’s much simpler to terminate a contractor than an employee, but be careful that the courts would actually classify the worker as an independent contractor.
  • Club owners have little control over a contractor’s business style,  teaching methods     or attitude.
  • A contractor is usually entrepreneurial by nature, and can become your biggest competitor. He/she will be familiar with your club’s strengths and weaknesses, and more than likely will have been given access to the membership roster.

 A word about Workers’ Compensation

 It’s usually assumed that issuing a 1099 to contractors saves costs on employment taxes and Workers’ Compensation. Depending on state statutes, the nature of the relationship, and how the contractor agreement is worded, the club owner may still be responsible for taxes and the contractor’s Workers’ Compensation benefits. It’s important to have a clear agreement that stipulates the contractor is an independent contractor. However, just calling the worker an independent contractor in an agreement is just one of the factors that a court will take into consideration.

 Below are three basic elements that should be included in any independent contractor agreement:

  1. A clear understanding of the separate relationship
  2. A requirement that the contractor maintain his/her own insurance
  3. A hold/harmless statement or waiver indemnifying the club for the contractor’s negligence

Protecting yourself from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all personal trainers? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin you and/or your fitness business. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Insurance coverage does not have to be complicated. At SADLER, we understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your profession.

If you would like to learn more about liability prevention or are ready to get a customized insurance quote, just apply online now or call 800-622-7370.

There are no obligation  and your quote will be sent in just a few hours in most cases. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, you have nothing to lose.

Use of Defibrillators in Fitness Clubs (Infographic)

Looking at the legal issues

The use of automated external defibrillators (AED) in a health club can save lives, but their existence and use also carries some heavy responsibilities.  If your club maintains an AED either voluntarily or per state law requirements, you and your staff have specific mandatory legal responsibilities toward potential victims of on-site cardiac failure. Failure to comply can result in liability.

AEDs

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Mandated Legal Responsibilities

While many businesses are mandated by law to include AEDs in their emergency plan, only California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have laws requiring them in health clubs.

However, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) highly encourage health clubs to maintain an AED and train their staff on  their proper use.

If your facility meets any of the following criteria, both the ACSM and the AHA recommend  AED placement and training:

More than 2,500 members

  • Classes or programs for high-risk populations
  • Access to emergency personnel or facility typically takes longer than 5 minutes

Managing the Risks

Facilities with defibrillators are required to provide staff training and certification in correct use and to keep them properly maintained, which includes regular inspection and testing. Training usually includes completion of a CPR course that meets American Red Cross or AHA standards. Any emergency plan that includes the use of AEDs requires review by a licensed medical doctor.

Negligence lawsuits can result from errors, but noncompliance with any state or federal regulations can also expose your health club to liability.

Good Samaritan laws provide some immunity from liability for emergency health service providers, but reckless or gross negligence isn’t included.

Protecting your fitness center from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for health clubs and fitness centers? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your organization. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Finding the right insurance coverage doesn’t have to be difficult or confusing. The SADLER insurance experts  understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your fitness facility.

If you would like to learn more about liability prevention or want to get a customized insurance quote, apply online now or telephone us 800-622-7370. It’s obligation free and most quotes can be sent in a few hours. There’s no application fee and we offer the most competitive rates in the industry, so what do have to lose?

Source: “Risk Management: Is Your Club Compliant or Complacent?” IDEA Health & Fitness Association

Critical Signage in a Fitness Center

Signs aren’t just for show


Signage in a fitness center serves several roles. Warning, policy / procedure, announcement and directional signs are all important to the safety of fitness center clients and protecting your business and staff from liability claims.

Warnings

These signs serve as silent staff members, reminding clients of safety procedures and cautioning them of potential dangers. These can include warnings of wet floors in sauna/jacuzzi/pool/shower areas, improper use of equipment, and use of spotters in weight areas. Warning signs should be professionally printed and posted strategically where they can be seen clearly and at eye level, or no higher than 6’ from the ground.

Policies & Procedures

These range from general policies posted at the front desk to issues of sanitation and courtesy throughout the facility. Examples include minimum age requirements of clients, policies for use of the locker rooms and showers, and use of equipment. These signs should also be printed professionally and placed in close proximity to the relevant area(s) no higher than 4 to 6’ from the ground. Decals on mirrors and glass doors/windows are useful for attracting attention to certain policies or instructions.

AnnounIMG_0012cements

Special events and classes take place in fitness centers on a regular basis. Signs alerting clients about the dates and details can be generated in-house by hand or computer and placed randomly, making sure they don’t interfere with or distract  from any safety or policy signs.

Directions

Signs denoting exits, ADA-facilities and equipment, emergency exit plans, location of safety equipment (fire extinguishers, first aid kits, alarms, etc.) should be professionally generated and posted per building regulations.

Despite the best efforts of your staff, accidents and emergencies will occur.  Your facility should have written emergency procedures in the event an injury illness or an emergency such as fire,tornado, power outage.

  • Every staff member (including independent contractors and volunteers) should receive a copy of the emergency procedures and required to sign that they have read and understood them. These procedures should be reviewed regularly at least once a year.
  • Staff members who work on the fitness floor should have Red Cross training in first aid. At least one CPR-certified staff member should be on site at all times.
  • If there is AED equipment (defibrillator) on site, at least one staff member trained in the use of the AED should be on site at all times.


Source:
David L. Harlowe, Chapter 27: “Fitness Center Safety,” Risk Management In Sport, Third Edition, 2012.