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How to implement workplace health and safety procedures

Health and safety is paramount in a fitness workplace setting. Let's look at the main concerns, and how to look out for them.
trainer helping older client squat
© CQUniversity 2021

There are a number of risks to watch out for in a fitness workplace setting.

This article looks at the main concerns, and how to implement the right health and safety procedures to mitigate them.

Manual Handling

Most organisations will require their staff to perform a range of manual handling tasks. Manual handling is defined as any activity that involves lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, moving, holding or restraining. It may also include stretching and bending, sustained and awkward postures and repetitive movements. Anything which causes a staff member to engage in this type of activity could be considered a manual handling risk if the activity is not conducted in a safe manner.

The most common types of manual handling injuries often include back injuries, injuries to the parts of the spine including nerves, bones, joints and soft tissue hernias, ruptured discs, torn back muscles and repetitive strain injury (RSI).

In a fitness centre, manual handling is a common occurrence. Staff, fitness trainers and instructors will engage in a range of manual handling activities on a day to day basis, therefore it is important that employees are correctly educated and trained in the organisation’s manual handling procedures.

How to decrease manual handling demands:

  • Decrease the weight of handled objects to acceptable limits
  • Reducing the weight by assigning two people to lift the load or by splitting the load into two or more loads
  • Changing the type of manual handling movement. Lowering objects causes less strain than lifting. Pulling objects is easier than carrying them. Pushing is less demanding than pulling
  • Change work area layouts. Reducing the horizontal and vertical distances of lifting substantially lowers manual handling demands. Reducing the travel distances for carrying, pushing or pulling also decreases work demands
  • Assign more time for repetitive handling tasks. This reduces the frequency of handling and allows for more work/rest periods
  • Alternate heavy tasks with lighter ones to reduce the build-up of fatigue.

Biohazards

Fitness centres are susceptible to biohazard risks.

How to observe the correct health and safety procedures:

  • Wash their hands thoroughly before and after physical contact with clients
  • If you have any cuts or abrasions you must apply a type of occlusive bandage before having any physical contact with a client
  • If you are suffering from a cold or flu or showing any symptoms of any type of contagious illness you are required to stay away from the facility until fully recovered
  • It is important that you inform your clients of the need to stay away from the facility should they be suffering from a cold or flu or showing any symptoms of any type of contagious illness to protect others from the illness
  • If a client is injured and starts bleeding, apply first aid if qualified to do so or immediately contact the management for assistance
  • If in contact with blood, wear surgical gloves that are disposed of in the biohazard waste disposal bins, along with other materials that have blood on them
  • All biohazard materials or substances such as used food waste, bandages, bloodied towels, vomit, bodily spills (such as sweat, saliva), tissues and any sharps (such as needles) must be cleaned up and items including cleaning towels or rags disposed of in the designated biohazard disposal bin
  • Immediately report any cleanliness issues with the showers, toilets and spas for immediate cleaning and disinfecting to management.

Chemical Hazards

Fitness centres are also susceptible to certain chemical hazards. The most common would be the use of cleaning chemicals.

Any staff that are assigned to cleaning duties would be instructed on the proper use of cleaning chemicals, the proper storage of cleaning chemicals as well as the personal safety equipment to use while using cleaning chemicals, such as gloves, masks and so on.

The manufacturers of cleaning chemicals are required to provide safety information and this is in the form of a document called ‘Material Safety Data Sheet’, or MSDS.

The MSDS tells the user of the chemical how to use it safely, how to store it, its disposal and what to do in the event of an accident while using or storing the chemicals, such as a spill.

Other fitness facilities may have chemicals used to disinfect pools and spas. Again the staff would need to be trained in the use and application of these chemicals and follow the manufacturer’s MSDS if in doubt.

© CQUniversity 2021
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Personal Trainer's Toolkit: Workplace Health and Safety in a Fitness Setting

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