Posted by Daniel Clark, CECD
While many employers are developing wellness programs that include fitness centers located at the work location, this benefit is a potential avenue for injury and even liability. Hold harmless waiver agreements may not be sufficient to protect an organization from the risks associated with today’s fitness centers.
Following are some best practices to consider before setting up fitness centers at the work location:
- Use an in-person orientation and sign-off that includes verbiage about checking with a doctor to make sure they're able to safely exercise.
- Ensure that equipment is installed and used according to the manufacturer's instructions, including proper clearances around the equipment.
- Limit access to ensure that the equipment is only used by employees that have been oriented and properly trained.
- Perform documented weekly inspections of the fitness center, the equipment and the surrounding area to control environmental risk factors such as trip and falls on poorly located power cords.
- Maintain records of all repairs and maintenance.
- Lock out or tag fitness equipment that is not running properly.
- Provide disinfecting solution with towels, and establish a policy to wipe down equipment after use to control risk of infections.
- Ensure the fitness room has adequate air exchange to replace stale air.
- Provide drinking water to minimize the risk of dehydration.
- Locate an emergency phone, tied to security system or receptionist in, or near, the fitness center.
- Place first aid kits and automatic electronic defibrillators in, or near, the fitness center and ensure an adequate number of workers are trained in proper use.