Risk management and compliance are vital topics for health club owners and managers to learn about in order to adhere to the law and prevent claims and lawsuits. Thousands of health clubs are sued on a yearly basis due to injuries, sexual harassment and more, so you’ll want to be sure you’re aware of your fitness facility’s legal obligations. While this article does not make explicit legal recommendations, here are some of the issues you need to know about as a club owner or manager when it comes to compliance:
You probably already know that your personal trainers and group exercise instructors need fitness certifications, but are you keeping track of their renewals? Certification verification and tracking is crucial to running a health club. If a client injures himself during a personal training session, he may file a lawsuit. And if that personal trainer’s certification is expired (even if it expired that day), then the client could make a case against your health club. Cover all of your bases by making sure your fitness staff is keeping up with their CECs and renewing their certifications before their certification expiration date.
Along with maintaining valid fitness certifications, health clubs should also be keeping track of and verifying fitness professionals CPR and AED certifications. In addition to getting their initial CPR and AED certifications, your fitness staff should also be completing renewal training to keep their training current.
Keep in mind that while most fitness certifications require professionals to be CPR certified, AED regulations can vary. While not all states require health clubs to have AEDs, the following states have laws mandating that they have at least one AED in the facility:
The safest route is to require that your fitness professionals go through both CPR and AED training and for you to stay diligent about tracking and verifying these credentials on an on-going basis.
Sexual harassment is in the news lately, but is your staff educated on all forms of sexual harassment and what kind of conduct is prohibited? Staff members, clients, and guests (including minors and children) can be victims of sexual harassment and it is crucial that health club owners and managers create policies and offer staff training to help prevent sexual harassment from occurring.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommends that employers “take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.”
Both your health club and your staff can be liable for employees sexual harassment of co-workers and customers. These situations can be prevented with the right training and policies.
1 in 4 U.S. adults - 61 million Americans - have a disability that impacts major life activities (CDC 2018). In order to ensure equal opportunity for the disabled population, health clubs and studios are required by law to make reasonable accommodations to help people with disabilities. These ADA regulations were originally created in 1991 and were updated in 2016 when Congress enacted the ADA Amendments Act to “ensure that the definition of disability would be broadly construed and applied without extensive analysis” (ADA.gov).
While many think that these regulations only apply to new construction and that older facilities do not have to abide by them, this is not the case. All facilities need to adhere to these regulations, so be sure to educate yourself. For example, is there at least one route from site arrival points (parking, public sidewalks, etc.) that do not require the use of stairs? Are carpets or mats less than ½ inch thick at the building entrance? There are hundreds of requirements to adhere to, so it is important that health club staff become well-versed in ADA regulations to ensure that the facility is in full compliance with them and can make the appropriate adjustments to club procedures. The fines from the Department of Justice can be up to $55,000 for a first offense and up to $110,000 for each subsequent offense.
As you can see, there are many compliance issues to keep track of at health clubs. The good news is that we’re here to help. ClubConnect offers certification verification, CPR/AED training, CPR/AED verification and tracking, sexual harassment training, and ADA education and checklists. Cover your bases with ClubConnect by booking a demo here or emailing our VP of Sales, Ravi Sharma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*ClubConnect is not a replacement for legal representation.