Gym owners demonstrate concern for member safety and well-being by making sure the club offers good, safe equipment.
You employ and train lifeguards for pool safety; make sure weights are re-racked and do not create a trip hazard; clear walkways; and see that treadmills and weight machines receive regular service and maintenance.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook two common pieces of exercise equipment when doing risk assessments and inspections: rubber stability balls and resistance bands. It’s important to evaluate how this equipment could affect member safety.
Common issues can include:
- Over-inflating exercise balls
- Not following manufacturers’ recommendations for use
- Storing equipment in high temperatures that can cause material to deteriorate
- Using excessive weight – as with heavy dumbbells – in conjunction with an exercise ball
- Neglecting repair and replacement when punctures or wear weaken the ball
- Failing to prevent conditions that allow exercise bands to break or snap back on the user
Most of these concerns are fairly easy to alleviate with some simple steps:
- Add the stability balls and exercise bands to your checklist for daily inspections – look for nicks, scratches, cuts, punctures or evidence of wear and tear
- Have stability balls used on an exercise mat and make sure the area is clear of obstructions
- Post rules for the amount of weight that can be used in conjunction with a ball and instruct users to inform staff of any concerns
- Check inflation rate periodically
- Routinely clean stability balls with a mild soap and water, as chemicals may compromise the fabric
- Keep records of date of purchase and note the replacement cycle of each ball
- Post guidance for using resistance bands: do not place handles over feet or stretch the band to more than 2.5 times its length
- Wipe bands regularly with just a damp cloth and store at room temperature
In recent years there have also been a number of recalls on stability balls and exercise bands. Check with the manufacturer or the Consumer Product Safety Commission for recall notices.
Educating your members and staff on the proper usage and maintenance of stability balls and exercise bands can help assure the equipment – and your members – stay in good shape!
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.