Lessons from loses - Stability balls

By: Courtney Rosengartner, Sr. Loss Control Specialist

While demonstrating an exercise to a therapy patient, a chiropractic Case Manager was injured when the stability ball she was using suddenly burst. She had been bouncing the ball on the ground causing the rupture and resulting in her falling backwards onto the ground. The incident caused long term injuries to her tailbone and years of great discomfort. She underwent surgery and was out of work for one year. When she was able to return to work she had limited mobility and realized her job duties were too difficult with the pain she was suffering and her restrictions, therefore she had to resign. The cost of this injury was $400,000 and years of suffering and pain management.

Exercise or stability balls commonly burst when sat upon, causing people to fall to the ground and sustain injuries, sometimes these injuries are very serious. There are some issues that can lead to dysfunction with these devices:

  • Over inflation
  • Weight of user
  • Worn seams
  • Puncture to ball
  • Use beyond recommended life

In 2006, over 3 million over-inflated exercise balls were recalled after several grievances, some resulting in fractures. Also, in 2011, a man was permanently injured after falling from an exploding exercise ball landing on his chin, chest and pelvis. His injuries resulted in a medically induced coma, amongst other ailments. Even healthy, physically fit individuals can get injured while using exercise balls. A NCAA basketball player sustained serious injuries while lifting weights on a stability ball that burst, preventing him from participating in the upcoming season.

To prevent these type of injuries, proper maintenance should be followed:

  • Inflate to manufacturer’s recommended level
  • Store in moderate indoor temperatures and in a safe place
  • Sanitize with mild soap and water solution and cloth
  • Mark with date purchased and burst limits
  • Purchase anti-burst variety designed to slowly deflate

Furthermore, exercise balls belong in a gym and not in the office. Recently, interest in using exercise balls in lieu of office chairs was increasing due to promises of core-strengthening benefits. However, the safety and ergonomic issues posed by this replacement is reason enough for banning them in the office environment.

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us at losscontrol@markel.com or your attorney if you have any questions. The article may not be linked to, copied, reproduced, republished, posted, or distributed in any way by non-policyholders of Markel®, without permission.