Fitness Equipment Safety & Maintenance


Safety and prevention of injury in the fitness area should be of the utmost concern in the daily operation of your YMCA. It is important that you have an established program with written guidelines and documented inspection procedures. It is important that one individual ultimately is responsible, but the entire fitness staff certainly can, and probably should, be involved in the overall process. Your preventative maintenance pro¬gram should address all of the equipment in your facility…free weights, cardiovascular devices, weight equipment (e.g., Nautilus-type), etc. Everything should be cleaned and serviced to reduce both the spread of infectious disease and the potential of injury to users.

Cleaning is an important part of equipment maintenance because sweat is corrosive…when left on metal components it will eventually cause corrosion or rust. All equipment should be wiped down with a damp cloth, then dried at least daily. Encouraging users to wipe off equipment after each use is a very good prac¬tice. At least weekly the equipment should be thoroughly cleaned, the bright surfaces polished with car wax, and any NaugahydeTM or similar upholstery cleaned with lanolin based hand cleaner. Lanolin based hand cleaners will dissolve the sweat and lubricate the vinyl, thus maintaining its natural flexibility. Use of cleaners like WindexTM or LysolTM for this task will dry out and crack the upholstery.

During the cleaning process is a natural time to inspect the equipment for operational smoothness, wear-and-¬tear, and missing, loose, or broken components. The following are the minimal functions that should be per¬formed. Any repair or maintenance should be immediately completed or reported to the appropriate individual.

  • Check each piece of equipment for general operating efficiency and smoothness…if any of the following cannot be accomplished immediately, the equipment taken out of service until it can be:
    • anything loose should be tightened…
    • anything damaged should be repaired or replaced…
    • any belts slipping…
    • anything jammed or not operating as intended should be corrected…
  • Verify that all components are present and properly functioning…e.g., be sure that the proper weight stack selector pin is with each machine and operates as intended, etc.
  • Inspect all cables. Make sure that end fittings are intact and tight. Especially observe the cable where it goes around cams and pulleys to ensure the coating is intact. Replace a cable at the first sign of wear.
  • Check all warning labels. Replace any that are illegible, damaged, or missing.
  • Examine the treadmills. The belts should not have any sign of fraying and should have clear and conspicuous markings along their sides to indicate belt movement. Verify that any safety devices are fully functional.
  • All power cords should be protected or hidden (cord runners) to reduce the chance of members tripping on them.
  • The process should be documented. A sample document, Equipment Maintenance & Inspection Form, may be found on our web site.

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.


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