Archive for the ‘Risk Management’ Category

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.

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.

Food Safety in Concessions (Infographic)

Are you cooking up trouble?

Ants, bees, flies, rain, or wind can be annoying when enjoying a hot dog and soda at the ballpark. However, all of those pale in comparison to food poisoning, another outdoor food risk!

Indoor and outdoor sports organizations face liability risks from food poisoning incidents resulting from improper food handling at concession stands. These incidents should be covered by General Liability insurance. However, preventing such risks is preferable. Here are some tips for reducing the risk.

Management and purchases

• Concession stands must adhere to all local food licensing and permit laws and regulations.

• All concession workers should receive training in proper food handling by management.

• Only purchase food from reputable, good-quality sources.

• Do not purchase or serve any food past the expiration date.

• Avoid serving food prepared at home, other than baked goods.

Food Safety

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Food Handlers

• All concession workers must wash hands with soap and warm water after potential contamination events. These include but are not limited to using the restroom, sneezing or coughing,  touching counters and garbage cans, dumping garbage, touching cash register and money, and touching your face, mouth or hair

• Use of gloves and hand sanitizers offer hand additional protection, but are not a substitute for frequent hand washings.

• Food handlers be symptom-free of illness (coughing, sneezing or sniffling, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) or open wounds when handling food.

• Food handlers must use appropriate utensils, gloves, or deli paper when handling food.

Insects and Vermin

• Store all food off the floor.

• All food should be covered and spills/drips continually wiped down to discourage insects.

• Keep trash cans covered at all times?? with tight-fitting lids.

 Refrigeration

• Foods requiring refrigeration to be held at 40° F or lower until being served.

• Keep a thermometer in your refrigerator/freezer to ensure fridge is maintained a 40°F and freezer at 0°F.

• Perishable food should not sit out of refrigerator longer than two hours.

Sanitation

• Disposable utensils and paper products should be used to reduce cleaning and contamination.

• Do not wash or reuse disposable products.

• Sanitize and wipe down all food preparation surfaces and concession equipment frequently.

• Do not overfill garbage cans, and empty them frequently.

For more detailed food handling information, you can download our food risk management report.

Protecting your organization from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all sports and recreation organizations? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your organization. Having the right sports and recreations insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Finding the right insurance coverage doesn’t have to be difficult. We at SADLER understand the specific needs and unique risks associated with your sports or recreation organization.

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

There are no obligations and most quotes are sent in just a few hours. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, what have you got to lose?

 Sources:
  • Stadium Foods Present Unique Food Safety Risks: Part 1 And Part II; April 19, 2010; Richard J. Arsenault.
  • Food Safety Hints for Non-Profit Organizations and Schools; Fort Wayne-Allen County Department Of Health; Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
  • A Quick Consumer Guide to Safe Food Handling; University Of Minnesota; Feb. 4, 2009; Parts Adapted from Your Safe Food Handbook, USDA, Feb. 2008.

Hotel Safety: Teams Traveling Overnight (Infographic)

Protecting athletes and staff from sex abuse/molestation incidents

 All parents have the expectation that youth sports organizations provide a safe and fun environment for the athletes. Any organization that supervises kids has a clear mandate to incorporate policies to prevent injuries of any kind. Child abuse and molestation can take place anywhere, and any program where adults supervise children is fertile ground for predators.

Most child predators are “groomers” as opposed to “grabbers” and it’s their modus operandi to earn the  trust of the child and parents prior to any abuse taking place. They create an emotional bond with the child, which works to prevent the child from reporting incidents. Youth sports programs are prime targets for perpetrators of these crimes.

Extra precautions need taken when youth sports teams travel out of town overnight for tournaments and camps. Below are basic tips to help protect young athletes from adults who intend to do them harm, and minimize the risk of coaches and chaperones being accused of improper or criminal behavior toward the children.

Hotel safety

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Please visit our Risk Management page for more sports tips and safety information.

Protecting your team and league from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all teams and leagues? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your organization. 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 sports or recreation organization.

To learn more about liability prevention or get a customized insurance quote, you can apply online right now or call us at 1-800-622-7370. There are no obligations. Most quotes are sent in just a few hours. Since there no application fees and we offer the most competitive rates in the industry, what do you have 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.

Swimming outings source of liability claims

Safety first at team pool parties

The swimming outing in a coach’s backyard or at a motel pool during a tournament is commonly the source of drowning or near-drowning incidents.

Drowning among youth baseball and softball players seems to be a prevalent problem in youth sports leagues. Of course, this is not isolated to just the baseball/softball arena, but more common most likely because of spring and summer activity.

An 8-year-old boy nearly drowned during his football team pool party in Arizona. His parents were in attendance but distracted for just long enough. Fortunately, the child was rescued by another alert parent.  Unfortunately, most cases that we read about do not have such happy endings.

Sport-related injuriesVigilance is the key

Drowning is the second highest cause of accidental death in children under the age of 15, according to the Center for Disease Control.. Approximately 750 children will drown next year, 375 of whom will be within 25 yards of an adult.

Accidents cannot always be prevented. It’s critical, however, to be vigilant when dealing with children in youth sports organizations. Most of the time, not every one of the children has a parent or guardian with them, especially when the team travels.  These parents trust that the coaches and volunteers that they leave their children with will be monitoring their safety and bringing them back home in one piece.

Steps toward prevention

Simple precautions can be taken to lessen the risk of drowning.

  • Participation requires passing a swim test.

  • Instill in team members “the buddy system” so they’re accountable for each other.

  • Have at least one CPR-trained adult in attendance.

  • Prohibit alcohol consumption by adults at all youth parties.

  • Adults should not be involved in any distracting activity (such as grilling, reading, talking on phone)

  • Hire a certified lifeguard and require them to provide proof of adequate General Liability insurance.

The avoidance alternative

A number of Sadler Sports insurance clients have been sued for drowning or near drowning incidents resulting in very costly settlements. I’ve personally witnessed a number of incidents around pools where parents get caught up in conversations and lose their concentration for just a split second, and that’s all it takes.

In my opinion, the risks of serious injury and resulting lawsuits are so significant with swimming parties that such activities should be avoided as their risks outweigh their benefits. Avoidance of high risk activities is sports risk management 101 and I put swimming parties right up there with the use of 15 passenger vans (tip-over risks) and sleepovers (sex abuse and molestation risk).

You can find further information on pool safety on the American Red Cross website. If you have questions, please contact us.

New Technology Enhances Event Security

Game Changers

We all know about game changers. Sometimes it’s a certain player, a momentum swing, the venue or fans, and other times it’s an event that makes us stop and rethink our views on one particular topic or another. The bombings at this year’s Boston Marathon qualify as a game changer.

It’s often a catastrophe that makes us re-evaluate our priorities. In the case of the Boston Bombings, we have been forced to address our personal safety and the safety of participants at sporting events.

Increasing event security

In attempts to strengthen event security at its football games, the NFL recently banned spectators from bringing in purses, coolers, backpacks and other miscellany. Some view this as overkill, while others view it as the natural evolution in the continual ramp up of security measures in a volatile setting.

The tech revolution

The technology boom is also helping to strengthen event security. While closed-circuit television is still the industry’s main method, it is the use of cellphones that has been most beneficial in enforcing safety regulations at sporting events, and not just among event staff. Many venues advertise a number for spectators to text or call if other patrons become unruly or are acting suspicious. And did you know there are apps available for reporting security issues? Fans may now anonymously submit complaints/observations using ISS 24/7 (or other) software. Game changer!

In addition to security hotlines, social media has helped to police patrons at sporting events. People love Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Many sports teams and event management companies have learned to use these tools to their advantage. They post on their accounts to spread the word of inclement weather, evacuation notices and other pertinent information.

Smartphones are good for more than just checking your Twitter feed. They are also important in documenting fan behavior at games, both good and bad.  In a world where anyone can be famous on the Internet, staying on your best behavior can mean the difference between YouTube fame and infamy.

Source: Kelly Martin,  “Safety and Security: Changing your game for the better,” Sports Destination Management. Sept./Oct. 2013.

Insurance Requirements for Rec Facility Users

Reduce liability exposure with proper collection of certificates of insurance

Facility user groups such as teams, leagues, tournament hosts, camps, instructors, and special event operators must carry adequate insurance. In addition to providing the proper coverage, Sadler Sports Insurance can assist you in reducing your liability by:

    • setting minimum insurance limits and coverage standards that adequately protect the recreation department
    • providing a simple free checklist tool to assist in verifying insurance compliance
    • referring uninsured facility users to a specific web page where they can get an instant quote,  instantly pay, and bind coverage  without any delays or hassles. Their delays and hassles become your delays and hassles.
    • setting your recreation department up in our system so that the certificates of insurance meet your special wording requirements every time, which cuts down on your frustration over certificates that don’t meet your requirements.

The video below walks you through the process in more detail.

Lease of Premises Agreements

Something all sports and recreation organizations should review

Most sports and recreation associations lease office space. Lease agreements contain numerous insurance and risk management considerations that must be addressed up front before entering into the lease or reviewed after the fact if the lease has already been entered into. It’s customary for the landlord to require the tenant to carry the following types of insurance policies to protect the interests of the landlord:

  • General Liability in the amount of $1,000,000 combined single limits to protect against bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, advertising injury, and damage to premises of others in the amount of $300,000. It’s usually required that the landlord be named as an additional insured.
  • Property insurance may be required to protect the replacement cost value of tenant’s improvements, contents, and sometimes building (in the event of a net lease) under the “special perils” coverage form. On occasion, it is required that earthquake and flood insurance be carried. Also, the tenant may be required to insure the glass against breakage and the heating, air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing systems against mechanical breakdown. If this is the case, the Property policy of the tenant must be endorsed to specifically provide coverage for glass and mechanical breakdown.

In the spirit of efficiency and reciprocity, most well-written leases should contain a waiver of subrogation clause. This means that both parties agree that if their property insurance company pays the claim, that the insurance company will waive its subrogation (or lawsuit) rights against the other party in order to recoup the loss. Sadler & Company can provide the sample wording for this provision.

Most well-written leases will also contain an indemnification/hold harmless provision whereby each of the parties agrees to assume the liability and legal defense cost of the other party for lawsuits arising out of each party’s own negligence. In many cases, since the landlord is the party in power, this provision is often heavy-handed in their favor and should be negotiated on a more reasonable basis.

So why should you care if your lease contains insurance requirements that you’re not meeting or unreasonable contractual liability assumptions through hold-harmless/indemnification agreements? These considerations don’t matter  – until a problem arises. And then it’s too late to do anything about them.

Within minutes, Sadler & Sports Recreation insurance can review your lease agreement and make recommendations based upon your unique situation. If you are interested in a no-obligation review, please call us at 800-622-7370.