Health club risk management news

Vol. 1, 2017

Equipment maintenance

Trainer with clipboardKeeping your equipment in tip-top shape is not just about keeping it clean. It should also involve routine maintenance, proper documentation of your maintenance, and safety recall awareness.

As stated in ASTM F2276-10 Standard Specification for Fitness Equipment, “The safety and integrity designed into the machine can only be maintained when the equipment is regularly examined for damage and repaired. It is the sole responsibility of the user/owner or facility operator to ensure that regular maintenance is performed. Worn or damaged components shall be replaced immediately or the equipment removed from service until the repair is made. The maintenance instructions must call the reader’s attention to this fact.”

The first step to equipment maintenance and upkeep involves reading the manufacturer’s directions in its entirety.

If the manufacturer’s guide does not have sample maintenance documentation, you can create one to help support consistency of your maintenance procedures. Capture each step of the recommended maintenance as outlined by the manufacturer’s guide and document completion. Key focus can include: inspecting equipment for loose parts, and wear and tear; proper lubricating of necessary components; and checking safety features to ensure they are working properly. Also inspect equipment surroundings to make sure there are no hazards present that might cause the user harm. Is the equipment properly spaced from other equipment so it can be operated safely? Decals designed to communicate proper use and safety should be visible and intact. If not, replace these immediately. Take the equipment out of service until the decals can be replaced. Expand the assessment of signage to other usage guidelines that might be posted around the equipment as well.

Equipment maintenance should also involve keeping the equipment clean. While the frequency of cleaning depends on how often the equipment is used; at a minimum the equipment should be cleaned daily. This not only helps keep the equipment running properly, it can help to reduce the spread of diseases such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Have equipment inspected on a routine basis by a third-party certified to properly inspect and maintain fitness equipment.

If you install new equipment, offer training to your clientele on how to properly use and monitor the use of the equipment to ensure users are using it properly. Monitoring of equipment use should be a routine practice throughout your facility.

Document your inspection activities and maintain these records for the lifespan of the equipment. If you sell your old equipment when it’s time to replace it, offer a copy of these records to the purchaser and maintain the original copy. 

In addition to the inspection of exercise equipment, maintenance and upkeep procedures should also include any laundry equipment on site. Depending on the frequency of use, dryers may need frequent inspections and maintenance. The following article, Could a fire start in your dryer?, is available through Markel’s risk management library. It offers tips to help support safe dryer operation and maintenance.


Strategies for protecting store fronts and buildings from damage

Far too often you see on the news where a vehicle is accidentally driven through a store front causing damage to the building and equipment inside.  Based on Markel’s health club claim history, health clubs are not immune. One such claim involved a driver losing control of their car which ran into the club, destroying the front plate glass window. Glass shattered everywhere and lodged into some equipment causing it not to run properly.  Ultimately, damages exceeded $90,000 and resulted in weeks of repairs.

Parking stops can provide minimal protection for building structures. These can serve as visual and sensory deterrents. While parking stops may not stop a car completely, they are better than having nothing at all.

Additional steps you can consider involve the following:  

  • Install concrete filled metal post or bollards so they protect store fronts from vehicle impact. Space bollards no more than three feet apart, in front of store fronts and along building sides that have accessible parking.Large flower pots
  • Place large vases or painted boulders in front of your building so a car does not have direct access to it.
  • Position jersey barriers (used to separate traffic lanes on highways) in front of your club. When properly anchored, these barriers can stop a 4,000 pound vehicle traveling at 50 mph. You can also place large, concrete planters filled with dirt in front of your business.

Whichever method you choose, use reflective tape or paint barriers and parking stops in a bright color to be sure they are visible at all times.

If you lease your property, consider having a discussion with your landlord about the benefits of protecting their property from out-of-control vehicles. They just might help with the overall cost due to the benefit they can also receive. You can also check with your local fire department for additional protection ideas.

Ref: ASTM F2276-10(2015), Standard Specification for Fitness Equipment, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2015

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 or your attorney if you have any questions.