As is customary around this time of year, fitness centers, gyms, and other such establishments are a hot topic, with sign-ups skyrocketing following the indulgence of the festive period. However, as places open to the general public, and home to equipment which can cause serious injury if used incorrectly, these spaces can also be incredibly dangerous.
Because of this, workplace health and safety training is particularly important not only to protect employees but also members of the public who will be using the facilities.
To ensure the safety of everyone who uses and works in these locations, organizations must ensure that they put the correct safety measures in place, including carrying out risk assessments, providing clear guidance on correct equipment use, and investing in health and safety eLearning courses to train all employees.
Complying with Health and Safety Laws
As with any workplace, fitness and leisure centers are subject to health and safety regulations which have been put in place to safeguard employees. While training and educating individuals on how to correctly use the equipment correctly may at first seem like nothing more than a precaution to protect the general public, it is actually a legal obligation for all organizations. All employers have a duty to protect the safety and wellbeing of employees. In the case of gyms and similar establishments which are open to the public, this duty of care also extends to customers and any visitors.
While it is not realistic to expect that accidents and injuries can be completely avoided, the companies in charge of the premises should be able to prove that they have taken reasonable steps to minimize the risk of any incidents occurring.
Spotting Potential Hazards
A key part of compliance requires fitness and leisure center operators to carry out a suitable risk assessment to identify any potential hazards on the premises. Unlike most work places, which would usually have the same common health and safety issues, gyms must also factor in the risks posed by the equipment itself, both to employees and the public. Once these have been identified, steps can be taken to mitigate the hazards, such as training staff on how to spot misuse of the equipment by customers and educating them on the role they play in minimizing any incidents.
Dealing with the Higher Rate of Incidents and Emergencies
Between the mix of customers who aren’t always knowledgeable on how to use the equipment provided and the general risks posed by a leisure and fitness environment, incidents and emergencies are far more likely to occur in gyms than in many other types of workplaces.
By implementing a clear workplace health and safety policy, organizations can not only safeguard against the majority of these incidents but also put an effective plan in place that will allow frontline employees to swiftly and appropriately respond to any emergencies which may arise. As an added precautionary step, it is also recommended that employees are trained in first aid as serious injuries can happen, even if they rarely do so.
Key Actions for a Leisure and Fitness Environment
As we have discussed, putting in place health and safety procedures is integral to protecting both employees and customers in leisure and fitness environments. Not only to fulfill the legal obligation placed on all organizations but also to avoid any incident which could seriously damage the reputation on the establishment and affect future business.
To do so, here are some of the key health and safety actions which must be taken in a leisure and fitness establishment:
Provide Employees with Health and Safety Training
Putting a health and safety policy in place is only one part of creating a safe environment for both employees and customers. For it to have any real effect, it must be supported by adequate training for all employees which covers not only general workplace health and safety but also topics related specifically to a fitness environment—such as how to respond to common injuries or emergency situations, and how to correctly train customers to use the equipment provided.
Ensure that Equipment is Properly Maintained
On the subject of fitness equipment, its maintenance should also form part of the health and safety policy as any neglected equipment can quickly become unsafe to use, creating an unnecessary hazard. Aside from regular maintenance, all equipment should also be checked on an ongoing basis for any faults or signs of wear and tear that could affect how safe it is to use.
Never Leave Customers Unsupervised
A common tactic that most leisure and fitness centers use to strengthen their health and safety measures is to ensure that customers are never left completely unsupervised. For gyms this will mean having several staff on shift observing customers, ready to step in should they spot any unsafe use of equipment or hazards.