What they are and how to reduce risk of occurrences
You work too hard at running your health club to risk it all. But it could easily happen if a client were to sue over something you simply overlooked. Health club General Liability claims typically arise out of the condition of the premises and equipment. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the facility should be performed, and clients always properly instructed on use of the equipment. The three most common claims unique to health clubs and fitness centers are:
- Falls while stepping on or off of a moving treadmill. which is usually a user error . However, a liability claim can be filed if the injured person did not receive proper instruction on use of the treadmill.
- Slips/falls in wet areas. These claims usually occur in locker rooms and sauna, Jacuzzi and pool areas. Such falls are best prevented with non-slip mats and warning signage.
- Slips/falls in exercise classes. Participants in group exercise classes slip or fall off step platforms and floors that become wet with perspiration and/or condensation from water bottles.
General Liability Risk Management
Steps can be taken to reduce the risk of injuries and claims being made against your facility.
- Document and retain maintenance and repairs
- Equipment safety signage should never be removed
- Cardio and strength equipment should be checked daily
- Power cords should be taped down to prevent trips and falls
- Non-slip floor mats and safety grab bars should be securely installed at showers/saunas/Jacuzzi exits
- Signs warning “CAUTION: WET AREA” should be permanently displayed.
- Members should be encouraged to wear non-slip footwear in wet areas
Group Exercise Area
The condition of group exercise equipment and floors should be checked daily, particularly worn step treads and worn, wet or damaged sections of the floor
Professional Liability Risk Management
Steps can be taken to reduce the risk injury claims being made against your facility resulting from something a staff member or independent contractor does or says (or fails to do or say).
- Have all clients, members and guests sign a waiver or release before using any part the facility. Members and clients should sign a new waiver/release upon renewal each year.
- Waivers should state that “instruction on all equipment and facilities has been provided and/or offered” to the individual.
- Fitness staff should physically demonstrate all equipment for new members and guests.
- Renewing members should be offered refresher instruction and instructed on use of any newly purchased equipment.
- Staff should all be trained in the proper use of all equipment upon hire and receive training on newly purchased equipment.
- Fitness staff should be made aware of the policy they are expected provide proper equipment instruction to members and guests.
- Staff should not exceed their qualifications for fitness and/or health training . Only staff with proper nutritional or medical certifications should offer recommendations in these areas.
- Independent contractors should offer proof of individual professional liability coverage before working in the facility.
- All employees should receive a copy and acknowledge by signature receipt of the facility’s emergency procedures plan. This plans should include what steps to take in the event of injury, illness, fire, power outage, severe weather, etc.
- The emergency plan should be reviewed with staff regularly during the year.
- Staff who work on the fitness floor should be CPR and first aid certified. At least one CPR and first aid trained staff member should be on the floor at all times.
- If the facility has an automatic external defibrillator (AED), at least one staff member with AED training should be on site at all times.
If you have questions regarding risk factors, please call us at (800) 622-7370, and you can visit our Health Club Insurance page to find a plan that suits your specific needs. We specialize in these areas: