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Health club risk management news

Vol. 1, 2018

Water does more than just hydrate

In a health club setting, water also causes damage to equipment and contributes to slip and fall accidents. There are a variety of loss prevention strategies a club can take to reduce the likelihood of either occurring.

Overflowing sinkMost water damage losses involving equipment are due to unexpected and unplanned events. Early notification of water intrusion can reduce the surprise factor associated with finding the damage hours after it occurs and can help reduce the severity of the damage.  While this is not an endorsement of any product, there are a variety of water intrusion alert systems on the market. Along with technology, these devises can alert you as soon as water is detected. In the case of toilet

Preventing losses from water damage
To further help prevent water damage, you can take these additional precautions:

  • Check plumbing. Look for leaking fixtures, dripping pipes, (including fire sprinkler systems), clogged drains, and defective water-drainage systems. Closing procedures should include an inspection of sinks, toilets, showers, and water fountains to make sure that they are not running. This will not only prevent potentially significant water damage, but additional water use expense. During periods of cold winter weather, verify that all areas where water lines and sprinkler pipes are located on outer walls, above ceilings, etc. remain at temperatures above freezing to prevent damage and water leaks. Consider contacting a sprinkler system contractor to inspect your system for deteriorating pipes that might burst.
  • Inspect foundations and exterior walls. Look for cracks in walls and gaps in expansion joints (material between bricks, pipes and other building materials that absorbs movement). Have a professional building contractor inspect significant gaps or cracks.
  • Check interior walls and ceilings. Water stains on the ceiling or running down walls may be the sign of a much greater problem behind the drywall. If left untreated, the ceiling or wall may collapse.
  • Inspect flashing and sealants around windows, roofs and doors. Check sealants and caulking. If they are brittle or there are noticeable gaps in spaces, reseal or apply new caulk to the area.
  • Check roof drainage systems and ventilations systems. Ensure roof drains and gutters are free of debris, and that water drains away from buildings. If the roof is in poor condition, you may need to replace it. Make sure ventilation systems have appropriate hoods and are in good condition. Check heating and air conditioning systems for excessive condensation or leaks in water lines. You may need to contact a professional contractor to inspect these areas properly.
  • Raise or flood-proof HVAC equipment. Floodwaters can extensively damage heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) equipment. The extent of the damage depends on the depth of flooding and how long the equipment is underwater. A good way to protect the HVAC equipment is to have a contractor move it to an upper floor or build a flood-proof wall around the equipment.
  • Direct water away from building. Make sure your property grading (slope) directs water away from the building.
  • Install sewer backflow valves. Flooding in some areas can cause sewage from sanitary sewer lines to back up through drain pipes. Backflow valves are designed to block drain pipes temporarily and prevent return flow.

High pressure pipe leaking

Learn more about protecting your business from water damage at The Institute for Business & Home Safety.

Don’t forget to protect small electronic equipment from water damage too. It is recommended to keep computer equipment above ground or floor level. Dust covers for computers, telephone switchboards, and other sensitive electronics provide protection should a roof leak or pipe burst.  Always cover equipment before you leave for the night.

Slip and fall prevention tips

Slips and falls due to excess water on the bathroom floors are one of the more frequently reported claims we see at Markel. Overflowing sinks and toilets can also lead to extensive repair and water extraction costs.  Left unmonitored, either can quickly result in inches of water on a gym floor.

Frequent inspections of floors, particularly entryway, bathroom, locker room and around water fountains, are important to the success of a good plan to prevent slip and falls. If you notice water or debris on the floor, clean it up immediately. If the floor is wet, post a highly visible warning sign to advise gym members and any guests of a potential hazardous condition. Because an overflowing toilet and ruptured pipes can quickly dump several gallons of water on the floor, it is important that staff know how to turn the water off if faced with this emergency. Keep in mind that commercial urinals and toilets may require additional steps to shut off the water at the source. Does your emergency action plan include how to shut off the water if you have to? Invite a plumber to your location to show staff what to do and then include those steps in your new hire orientation and staff training as a reference for the future.

Most importantly, keep your inspection process consistent and well documented should you need to refer to it later. Maintain this information with your other business records indefinitely.

  • Place skid-resistant, absorbent mats at all entrances. Inspect the mats frequently so they do not become tripping hazards, and replace frayed mats immediately.
  • Wet floor signCheck your floors frequently and mop up excess moisture immediately. Post “Wet Floor” signs as necessary.
  • Document your efforts to keep your floors hazard free in your daily log or calendar and retain these records.

The frequency of your inspections depends on how often the restrooms are used and the number of clients in your facility each day. We recommend the minimum standard should be every hour or more frequently for high volume usage. Inspections should be thorough.  Check stalls, under fixtures, trash cans, and floor mats. If a stall is occupied, wait for it to become available so it can be checked. That way, nothing is overlooked.

For winter weather slip-and-fall loss control strategies, visit Markel’s Risk Management Library.


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.