Creating a Safe Environment

Creating a Safe Environment

The fitness facility must establish a safe environment in which the member or client is able to train. This environment must be compliant with the government legislation as well as health and safety guidelines from the industry regulator. Further to this, there is very little regulation of the health and fitness industry in South Africa. This leaves much of the responsibility on individuals employed in the industry to provide the highest standards in health and safety within their specific context. Since members and clients are often ignorant of basic health and safety guidelines within the facility, it is important that the staff of the facility endeavour to educate the member through the following means of the guidelines and rules of the facility:

  1. Member Induction

This method is often underutilised by many facilities, and too frequently involves a basic walk-through of the facility by the sales person. The sales person is responsible to educate the member on basic access guidelines; however, the fitness staff are required to introduce the member to every aspect of the facility, and encourage the member to behave within the rules and regulations of the facility. The manager must ensure that the induction process is thorough and that staff are completing the process entirely with each member or client.

  1. Signage

This method cannot be utilised on its own, but rather reinforce the rules, regulations and guidelines conveyed in the induction process. This is since members or clients very rarely take notice of signage. Signage is however essential from a legal perspective, to ensure the facility is not faced with legal action due to lack of information. The following guidelines must therefore be utilised for signage:

  • The message of the sign must be clear. Signs must ideally only covey 1 message, E.g. Entry and exit points or Health and Safety information or club event information. If multiple messages are conveyed on a single sign, members are less likely to pay attention to the sign, or the messages can be obscured or confused.
  • The message must be concise and utilise basic terminology. The sign must reach the target audience and not confuse or overwhelm the member with legal jargon.
  • The sign must be legible. Guidelines for placement and writing size generally encourage signs to be 1.5 to 2 metres off the ground and allow the member to be able to read the sign from a minimum of 3 to 4.5 metres.
  1. Education and Buy-in of Staff

It is vital that staff of the facility is well educated on the health and safety guidelines of the facility. It is also vital that the staff believe in the value of these guidelines in protecting the members, themselves and the facility. It becomes important to re-educate the staff of these guidelines at regular intervals throughout their time of employment. Staff Education and Accreditation The fitness facility needs to be staffed by adequately trained and accredited employees. Each employee must we aware of their job responsibilities, and along with management ensure that they are suitably trained and accredited to perform their responsibilities.

  1. Management Staff

– Must hold a management qualification

– Must be trained in club processes, rules, regulations and guidelines

– Must be aware of legislation and policies governing the industry

– Must ensure employees are adequately trained and qualified

– Must actively seek to train and up skill staff

  1. Sales Staff

– Must hold a sales and/or marketing qualification

– Must be trained in club processes, rules, regulations and guidelines

– Must be aware of legislation and policies governing the industry

– Must ensure prospective members are adequately screened

– Must ensure members are aware of their and the facilities responsibilities

  1. Fitness Staff

– Must hold an industry-recognised health and fitness qualification

– Must hold a current first aid and CPR qualification

– Must be trained in club processes, rules, regulations and guidelines

–Must be aware of legislation and policies governing the industry

– Must ensure the member is adequately screened and evaluated and is cleared to train by themselves or a medical professional if necessary

– Must ensure the member is aware of the rules, regulations and guidelines of the facility

–Must ensure the member is following a scientific and safe exercise program

– Must ensure the member is properly supervised while training

  1. Maintenance Staff

– Must hold a recognised maintenance qualification

– Must be trained in club processes, rules, regulations and guidelines

– Must be aware of legislation and policies governing the industry

– Must be familiar with all equipment, their service guidelines, warranties and correct operation

– Must ensure all equipment is operating safely and optimally

– Must ensure all malfunctioning equipment is inaccessible to members and is properly designated as being inoperable if it cannot be removed from the floor

Principles of Maintenance


All equipment in the facility must always be in optimal working order. All areas of potential risk must be constantly evaluated by the relevant manager. These will include; wet areas, weight areas, swimming pools, day care,

This is termed preventative maintenance. This will involve staff becoming familiar with all equipment and equipment manuals. It is advised that facilities keep an equipment manual and service warranty library. It is then recommended that all management staff sign a form confirming they have read and understand all equipment manuals and service warranties falling under their control.


All aspects of the facility must be considered, including flooring, mirrors, fans and air-conditioning, as well as equipment. The care taken to maintain and upkeep these aspects will reflect positively on the overall impression of the facility.


The cleaning of the facility must be consistent, and cleaning staff must keep a log confirming each area they have cleaned and the time.


These include extra aspects that add to the experience of the member in the facility. They may include towels, toiletries or hangers in lockers. It is up to the facility as to which amenities they provide and the quality of them. It is however important to understand that poor quality or poorly kept amenities often give a more negative impression than none. It becomes important for a facility to evaluate their needs before implementing a maintenance program.

To achieve this, a needs analysis will need to be performed.

  1. Size of Facility and number of indoor and outdoor sections
  2. The hours of operation, to determine the best times for maintenance to take place.
  3. The operating budget for maintenance
  4. The number of members using the facility
  5. The busiest days and times during the day
  6. Availability of in-house staff vs outside services
  7. Mechanical aspects of facility (pool, steam rooms, water systems, electrical systems, lighting, security, etc.)

Planning a Maintenance Program

1) Establish primary goal of the program E.g. Provide maintenance services that allow the facility to be safely used for its intended purpose

2) Set up specific maintenance objects E.g. Maintain a presentable facility; Promptly respond to repair requests, etc.

3) Divide daily maintenance tasks into basic components E.g. general maintenance, cleaning, preventative maintenance, repairs, replacement, improvement, etc.

4) List areas that involve specific maintenance tasks.

5) Place specific daily tasks in a specific area. Ensure all basic components of maintenance have been covered.

6) Delegate responsibility to each specific task to specific staff members. Ensure these staff members understand their responsibilities, and that they log their maintenance tasks daily

Hygiene in the Fitness Facility

The following aspects are essential to maintaining hygiene in a fitness facility:

  1. Wipe all equipment with a clean, damp cloth multiple times during the facilities operating hours. Ensure all members using the facility train with towels, and that they wipe the equipment with their towel after use.
  2. Anti-bacterial sprays are essential for cleaning all equipment at least once daily. A best-case scenario is to have anti-bacterial wipes on the gym floor for members to use while their training.
  3. Regular vacuuming or sweeping will get rid of any dust/germ build up. It is also important to move equipment to clean and vacuum dust build-up which accumulates underneath equipment.
  4. The toilet and change room facilities must be clean and swept/vacuumed multiple times during the day, depending on usage.

Safety in the Fitness Environment

The gym floor can be a dangerous environment for both members and staff in safety protocols are not established and adhered to both parties. It is important that members are made aware of the safety policy of the facility at their initial induction, and are reminded by the gym staff periodically to ensure compliance. A member code of conduct might need to be developed by the facility for members to sign at induction to improve compliance.

Facility staff members are required to ensure that the following safety measures are adhered to:

  1. All equipment must be in good working order and well maintained.
  2. The floor layout must be established by suitably qualified management staff, and all staff members must ensure that the floor layout is maintained.
  3. All members must be made aware of health and safety policy, procedures and conduct while using the facility.
  4. The floor must be kept clear of loose equipment, E.g. weights, etc., and equipment must be safely stored when not in use, E.g. weights are stacked on correct trees and are easily accessible
  5. The facility staff must always be suitably qualified, including up to date CPR and first aid certifications.
  6. The staff must ensure that all members are guided in performing exercises safely, and that members are adequately supervised by qualified staff while training.

Maintaining Machines and Equipment

The equipment on the fitness floor is usually very expensive, with parts and repairs being very costly. The usage of this equipment is also very high, making the equipment susceptible to wear and tear, potentially shortening their lifespan. This makes it very important to keep equipment properly serviced with a focus on preventative maintenance.

The following principles will ensure that all equipment is kept in a good state of repair:

  1. Wipe-Downs

The most frequent maintenance task is to wipe down all mats, seats, benches, cardio consoles and pads. This task should be performed multiple times per day with a clean rag and water-based disinfectant. To prevent too much disinfectant from being sprayed into the air, spray directly into the rag before wiping down the pad. Post signs throughout the gym requesting members wipe the equipment after us. Provide them paper towel dispensers throughout the facility.

  1. Oil Machines

Resistance machines have moving parts that must be lubricated at least monthly. For resistance equipment, spray silicone into a clean rag and apply it to the weight tracks. Spray the silicone into the bearings and move them to ensure they can move freely. Most cardiovascular machines such as treadmills are self-lubricating. Check the oil reservoirs and fill them according to the manufactures’ instructions.

  1. Check all Equipment for Wear

Each week, do a walk-through of the facility to identify worn or broken equipment. Check machine and bench pads for tears and cracks. Examine cables to identify fraying or tears in their rubber coating. Check fixed barbells and dumbbells to make sure the weights are securely attached.

Immediately fix or replace any equipment that presents a safety hazard.

  1. Refer to the relevant service provider or manufacturer for large repairs and replacement parts

Keeping Maintenance records

These records assist in assuring the following principles of record keeping:

  1. Accountability: Management staff can oversee and ensure quality and performance of tasks.
  2. Integrity: The specific maintenance tasks can be scheduled and staff are able to manage their workload effectively while performing key tasks.
  3. Efficiency: Tasks are not repeated by other staff members, as they are clearly logged on the maintenance record, and can be checked by management at any stage.
  4. Transparency: All maintenance records are available to any staff member in the case of equipment damage or malfunction, and if staff members detect faults or damage, they can report, recommend action, and log services.

Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures are stablished to ensure both a fun and sae environment for all patrons of any fitness facility. The following are examples of commonly implemented facility usage policies and procedures:


  • Failure to comply with the following policies and guidelines could result in, but are not limited to, being asked to leave the facility or suspension of membership privileges.
  • Storage facilities and lockers are provided in the change rooms and all personal belongings should be stored in the mentioned lockers.
  • No bags are permitted throughout the facility.
  • All patrons must have a clean towel to wipe equipment after use.
  • Food is not allowed in the facility. Only clear drinks in closed bottles are allowed.
  • Spotters are strongly recommended during any lifting of free weights.
  • Weight and equipment are not too be moved or rearranged.
  • Weight benches should not be placed within 5 metres of the fire escape or extinguisher.

Age Requirements:

  • All children must be with their parent or guardian at all times.
  • Children ages 7 years and younger are only allowed access to the play area (if applicable)
  • Children ages 8-15 are allowed access to all areas except the Exercise Room, Free Weight Area, and the Studios
  • Children ages 16 and above are allowed access to all areas


  • Patrons are required to wear closed shoes with rubber soles whenever in the facility.
  • Bare feet are not permitted.
  • Jeans, cargo pants or pants with multiple zips or buttons are not permitted.
  • Sleeveless shirts must not have an arm opening one fist below the armpit.
  • Sports bras only are not permitted.
  • Patrons must ensure that excessive clothing is not warn, to prevent overheating.
  • Very oversized, loose fitting clothing should be avoided as it may get caught in equipment and cause damage or injury.


Opening times:

Monday – Saturday: 4.30am

Sunday: 6.00am

Closing times:

Monday – Saturday 9.00pm

Sunday: 7.00pm

Free Weights and Exercise Areas:

  • Medical clearance is recommended for men over 45, women over 55 and individuals of any age who have two or more of the following risk factors: diagnosed hypertension, blood pressure of 140/90 or greater, total cholesterol greater than 200mg/dl or HDL of 35mg/dl or lower, smoke cigarettes, impaired fasting glucose, obesity, a family history of heart disease or a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Medical clearance is also strongly recommended for persons with cardiovascular, pulmonary or metabolic disease.
  • Users are responsible for wiping sweat off the equipment. Each user may bring his or her own towel, purchase a workout towel, or use the paper towels in the dispensers located in the workout area. Gym Wipes are located throughout each area to disinfect machines after each use. You are encouraged to clean each machine before and after use.
  • No chewing gum, tobacco, or food allowed.
  • Please report broken equipment to the Information Desk inside the Exercise Area.
  • Exercise Area staff will provide general equipment orientations only. See the Fitness Center staff for fitness assessment, exercise prescriptions, and personal training.
  • Only Recreational Services staff, during their employment, may provide personal training, sport instruction, fitness instruction, or coaching in any of our facilities.
  • Users must return bars & weights to their proper storage racks.
  • Weight belts are not allowed on exercise equipment if the buckle makes contact with the upholstery.
  • You must allow others waiting for the machine to work into your rotation.
  • Slamming or dropping weight stacks, plates, or dumbbells is prohibited.
  • Spotters should be utilized when excessive weight is lifted over body.
  • Spring collars are required on all barbells.
  • Dropping of dumbbells is only permitted in matted areas providing the user drops in a controlled manner so that the dumbbell would not injure another person or damage the equipment or floor. Dropping of a barbell or a barbell with weights is not permitted anywhere.
  • Cell phone use whether talking or texting is prohibited while exercising. Patrons talking on their cell phones while in the Exercise Area or Free Weight Area will be asked to move to the lobby or stairwell area until their conversation is over. Please respect your fellow patrons.
  • No person under the age of 16 may be in either of these areas.
  • Patrons must use the equipment for its intended purpose or function. Improper use of any plate-loaded machines, selectorize machines, or cardiovascular equipment will not be tolerated.