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Accidents often experienced by health clubs involve a slip, trip or fall. One proactive way to control these accidents involves keeping the circulation area free of hazards.

The American College of Sports Medicines (ACSM) defines circulation areas as spaces that allow users to enter, exit and traverse the various physical activity zones. These pathways accommodate access to each area, including functional spaces in and around equipment. Circulation routes should be at least 36 inches (91 centimeters) across, and located adjacent to physical activity areas so users do not have to pass directly through a physical activity area to access another area.

ACSM further defines “open-access” circulation as spaces that provide adequate sight lines, convenient access and egress for routine daily use, and clear exit pathways during emergency situations.

Control these areas accordingly:

Avoid blind corners in two-way circulation areas. This can be accomplished in several ways, including soft corners, low walls at intersections, mirrors and warning signage.

Avoid using doors that open into circulation paths and hallways.  

Provide circulation areas that, by their design, communicate a path of safe passage.

Clear circulation areas help ensure appropriate exit pathways are both visible and accessible.

Additional recommendations to help control these accidents include the following:

Keep circulation areas free of tripping hazards, such as equipment cords, weights and other loose gym equipment. Advise clients to not place equipment and other personal items in the circulation area. Keep children and pets out of the circulation area. Post signage telling clients to look out for children or pets that may be present.

Inspect all public areas, including bathrooms and locker rooms frequently. Remove potential tripping hazards immediately.  

Keep people out of restricted areas. Post a notice indicating the area is off limits.

Use absorbent mats on wet days. Place mats at all entryways. Mats should have slip-resistant backings and provide adequate coverage. Change dirty or saturated mats for clean ones, and replace mats that curl up at the edges. Post wet floor signs when necessary.

Keep walkways well lit. Make sure walkways, hallways and stairways are clearly illuminated.

Maintain external walkways. Remove snow and ice, and apply ice melt in areas that might refreeze. Repair holes in the parking area and remove tripping hazards. Paint handicapped ramps with yellow non-skid warning paint to increase visibility.

Check your leasing agreement. Fully understand your responsibility for maintaining exterior walkways.

Always document your maintenance and upkeep activities. You never know when you might need to validate your efforts.

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Michael Swain

Michael Swain is a senior loss control specialist at Markel Specialty.

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