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Building a Risk Management Culture

risk management

You can create a safety and risk management culture at your health club. Culture is more than a memo, a sign by the time clock or a handbook with safety guidelines; it is a common way of thinking, behaving or working within an organization. A true safety culture is embedded in all facets of your operation. Here are some tips to help you.

Set the tone

As the owner or operator of your club, it is imperative that you lead by example. Preach and practice safety. Grab the mop and put up the wet floor sign when needed. Stop a member if they are operating a piece of equipment in an unsafe fashion. Make safety a part of staff meetings and training.

Set the message

Documentation is vital when it comes to safety and risk management procedures. Create written procedures and make them available to all associates. Be sure to include a variety of topics:

  • Emergency protocols for health concerns and situations such as weather events, fire, active shooter and drowning.
  • Sexual misconduct awareness guidelines that include appropriate conduct, how to recognize signs and the reporting process.
  • Basic facility walk-through expectations and checklists.
  • Cleaning and maintenance protocols for compromised equipment.

Preach the message

Make safety review a part of every meeting. Go over a safety procedure, recent safety concerns, bring in a guest speaker or participate in a webinar on a safety topic. Keep messages consistent and discuss expectations and accountability. Explain that safety is a key extension of customer service that is part of everyone’s job. Discuss specific safety aspects of each job and those that apply to all associates.

Involve additional key stakeholders to raise awareness and build expertise while gaining buy-in at varying levels. Include department heads in protocol development. Consult with local fire, police, EMS, your attorneys and local organizations. Attend roundtables and trade association events to stay current. Provide incentives for employees and members who suggest ways to improve safety. And, of course, involve your local independent insurance agent and carrier representatives.

Practice what we preach

Many health club facilities have documented procedures in place and keep them updated with regular review. To take safety to the next level and truly embed it in your culture, create action items. Conduct regular audits of how well your staff members follow procedures. Mock drills are an excellent way to test that your associates not only understand the procedures and protocols but are prepared to act in the event of an emergency.

These steps can help you create and maintain a true culture of safety and risk management within your club.

*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.


Brian Rawlings spent 10 years developing and overseeing programs in the fitness industry before joining The Cincinnati Insurance Company in 2005. He now applies his fitness expertise as National Program Director for the Fitness, Sports & Recreation program at Cincinnati Insurance. Brian can be reached by email, Brian_Rawlings@cinfin.com, or by phone, 513-603-5461. Please visit www.cinfin.com/fitness-sports for more information.

Brian Rawlings

Brian Rawlings is Practice Leader for FITLIFE, which insures fitness facilities, health clubs & spas, for Venture Programs. He can be reached by phone at 800-282-6247 ext.323 or email: brawlings@ventureprograms.com.  

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