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Safety First


Nothing affects member satisfaction and retention like security. If members frequently get injured on faulty equipment, have their belongings stolen out of lockers and overall feel unsafe in your club, they will be running out the door. Gyms are a breeding ground for mishaps and accidents. Therefore, it is necessary to be prepared and make sure all staff is equipped to manage any incident.

“Safety, security and risk management are top priorities at the Cincinnati Sports Club,” said Mary Frank, the gym’s sales and marketing manager. “Our standards are established according to the best practices and policies of fitness, hospitality and related industries, as well as feedback from our members and guidance from our medical and member advisory boards.”

To help boost security within your club, Frank shared strategies on how Cincinnati Sports Club works to create a culture of safety.

Regular Facility Walkthroughs

Know the ins and outs of your facility. One of the best ways to create a culture of safety is to be aware and monitor everything that is going on. To stay abreast of risk factors, the team at Cincinnati Sports Club conducts a comprehensive walkthrough of the entire facility and surrounding property six times a year.

“The walkthrough looks for other areas to improve or repair around the club, such as worn carpeting, traction or elevation changes, cleaning and sanitation,” explained Frank. “Each month we audit the functional quality of all emergency fixtures and equipment, including lights, fire extinguishers, emergency exits and AEDs. In late summer, we scan all electrical circuits and breaker boxes with infrared to find and replace hotspots as necessary.”   

Hire a Security Director

While all staff should be acquainted with security measures, hiring a full-time security director could be beneficial and help foster a culture of safety within the club. At Cincinnati Sports Club, the security and risk director manages all day-to-day safety matters.

Frank explained some of their responsibilities include managing the security department, conducting emergency procedure drills, revising emergency procedures as necessary, and facilitating safety and risk prevention programs.

“Part of their duties also includes investigating and documenting incidents at the facility, looking for trends or spikes in incident reports on a monthly basis, as well as working with a third-party facility management company to conduct mock inspections of OSHA, fire marshal and health department regulations,” said Frank.

Work with Local Law Enforcement

Make connections within the local community. Your gym is not an island, so building relationships with local law enforcement can help establish a greater level of security within your facility. In addition, it might make your members feel more at ease.

According to Frank, Cincinnati Sports Club prides itself on a strong working relationship with the local police and fire departments. “Law enforcement and fire services have updated copies of building plans to be prepared for fire or other emergencies,” added Frank. “We also have more than 25 video cameras on our property; two are license plate cameras that record the plates of vehicles entering the property and the local police department monitors five. We are currently working with local law enforcement to grant remote access to all cameras in the event of an emergency.” 

Develop an Emergency Action Plan

Hopefully emergency situations will rarely occur, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. Frank suggested developing action plans and placing them around the club so staff know how to respond, if and when an emergency should occur.

“Every workstation at the club has a red binder that details all emergency procedures,” she said. “Our emergency protocols are listed in a table of contents, with page numbers for easy reference. Additionally, when department managers are not in the building, we have dedicated security personnel and a manager-on duty who are trained in all emergency procedures.”

Employee Training

As Frank explained, when management makes risk management a top priority, the rest of the organization will follow. Therefore, it is essential to hire and train staff who understand and adopt company values and can be trusted in the case of an emergency.

At Cincinnati Sports Club, all employees are trained on safety and risk management practices at every stage of their employment. “All new employees must complete orientation before their first shift, which includes a detailed explanation of emergency procedures, safety protocols and sexual misconduct training that was developed in partnership with our insurance adjustors and legal counsel,” said Frank. “We regularly hold occurring CPR/AED certification sessions with our local fire department to ensure that everyone maintains this requirement.”

Finally, the club conducts staff drills on various procedures, administers a general test on emergency procedures and performs two fire drills per year. They are currently working with local law enforcement to conduct an emergency response time drill and an active shooter drill.

Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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