Weight and Fitness Room Safety


Accident frequency is increasing in fitness rooms and weight rooms of YMCAs across the country. Some of the incidents arise directly from equipment that is inadequately maintained or marked. Others arise from improper participant use, generally traced to less than adequate training, either in regard to general fitness principles or specific equipment operation. Several steps that can be taken to address the most frequent accident types that occur in the fitness and weight room areas are listed below.

  1. Weight and fitness areas should be supervised by a staff member at all times. If this is not feasible, the area should be supervised during the peak usage hours. Both the hours of supervision and a warning about the danger of individual workouts without a spotter should be clearly posted. The area should be monitored frequently by staff when it is not actually being supervised.
  2. An orientation should be offered to all weight and fitness area users, and should be mandatory for users under 18 years of age. It should include both general fitness protocols and an introduction to each piece of equipment, emphasizing the benefits and limitations of each. If desired, a release from liability could be required from any who decline an orientation (an example is on our website).
  3. Every access into the fitness area should be clearly posted with notices similar to the following:
    • Access permitted to persons above 18 or those above 14 who have received proper orientation.
  4. Each piece of equipment in the room should have clear and simple instructions, preferably pictorial, posted in the immediate vicinity of the equipment.
  5. Treadmill belts should have a series of slip-resistant marks along both edges so that movement of the belt can be easily determined. These marks should be confined to a strip from 1” to 1 ½” wide on each edge of the belt, be about 12” to 18” apart, and be large enough to be easily identified.
  6. Proper maintenance of the equipment is vital to the safety of the users. An inspection and preventative maintenance log should be maintained for all equipment in the fitness area. It should include dates of all equipment inspections, deficiencies noted, corrective action taken, and preventative maintenance performed. Preventative maintenance should meet or exceed manufacturers’ guidelines. Records should be maintained at least 3 years.
  7. Users of free weights should return all dumbbells, weights, bars, and collars to their appropriate storage locations, as they create trip and fall hazards when left on the floor. Staff should encourage proper behavior and should clean up items left unattended. Signs should be posted to re-rack weights.

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


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