Clarke & Sampson Blog

Employee Fitness Center Liability: Protecting Your Business

Posted by Keegan Wetzel

Jan 14, 2015 11:22:00 AM

    
On-site fitness centers can be a powerful way to improve productivity, reduce time away from work, promote wellness and recruit top talent; however, they also present a serious liability exposure. There are several steps you can take to reduce your liability for employee injuries beyond a simple waiver. A waiver will not always hold in court if the company is found to have staffed the facility with untrained workers or furnished it with poor equipment, and may not depending on the state that litigation is taking place. Designing the fitness center for optimal safety and transferring risk with an appropriate insurance package are essential parts of risk management that will help your on-site fitness center succeed. ATH_27fitnesscenter_01

Waivers

A common misconception is that a liability waiver prevents lawsuits, but in reality, it doesn’t. The enforceability of the waiver in court depends largely on its specific wording and the particular state’s legal requirements. The waiver is meaningless without proper wording and compliance with applicable state law. Although waivers do lessen liability under certain circumstances – and are an integral part of a fitness center risk management program – it is important to review a waiver with legal counsel to ensure its effectiveness and compliance with state laws.

Education

If you choose not to staff the on-site fitness center, users are more at risk of injury. If practicable, conduct live orientation sessions to demonstrate proper techniques while informing employees about policies and procedures for using the facility. If not, inform employees clearly of policies and procedures before they begin use and post clear illustrations and signs instructing them on proper use.

Maintaining the Fitness Center

The best way to deal with injuries at your on-site fitness center is to prevent them. And although Injuries cannot be avoided entirely, they can be minimized.

  • Follow the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines.
  • Ensure that all employees undergo a health screening before beginning use of the fitness center.
  • Avoid installing high-risk equipment, such as free weights.
  • Keep ample space between fast-moving equipment, such as treadmills, and other objects.
  • Maintain equipment according to manufacturer’s instructions, and keep a thorough maintenance log.

Discrimination Claims

It is also important to consider disabled or overweight employees. Leaving disabled workers out or creating a perceived discrimination against obese workers by a fitness center could lead to discrimination claims. Explore this possibility and account for it in your internal communication efforts regarding the fitness center.

Transfer Risk

The insurance professionals at Clarke & Sampson, Inc. can help you develop an appropriate liability insurance package for your on-site fitness center. Review your policy carefully each year, and be sure to inform us about changes in the way you run the fitness center so we can make sure your coverage and risk management programs are up to date.

At Clarke & Sampson we are dedicated to making sure that you and your place of business are protected.  If you have any questions please call us at (703) 683-6601 or click the button below.  We look forward to helping you.

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