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Liability risks for gyms are higher by the very nature of the activities that take place inside their walls. Not only are there services being provided and goods sold, but there is also tons of activity and equipment that can cause injury. Many gym owners may not be aware that their business can be held liable for injuries and property damage – or how much that can cost. It’s important to ensure your business is protected with commercial general liability insurance and you reduce the risks as much as possible. The first step is identifying liability risks for fitness centres and learning how you can mitigate them.

Here are the top 5 liability risks for gyms:

  1. Injuries
  2. Staff Advice
  3. Cybersecurity
  4. Harassment
  5. Damage to personal property.

Injuries

Between the equipment and activity, it’s no wonder that injuries are a huge liability risk for fitness centres. For example, a fall on a treadmill can cost your gym a lot of money. It’s a popular piece of equipment but one where clients aren’t always paying attention. Along with walking or running, they’ll text, read, or watch a show. That makes it easy for an accident to happen.

In order to prevent injuries, always keep all equipment well maintained. Purchase equipment with safety equipment and use it. Ensure safety rules are well communicated and enforced by all staff. Signs should be posted. If you have personal trainers operating at your fitness centre, ensure they’re qualified and also follow rules to ensure the safety of your clients.

Keep your gym tidy and clean in order to reduce trip-and-fall hazards. Require patrons to rerack weights and have specific areas for free weights and other equipment to ensure they’re not left in walkways. To prevent falls, place mats at the entrances and maintain your parking lot and sidewalk.

You should also require all customers to sign a waiver. The details of this waiver should be discussed with your insurance company and lawyer. Even with a waiver signed, you can still be held liable for an injury.

Staff Advice

It can be a bit of a tricky situation when it comes to personal training staff. Did you know that since they’re providing advice to clients, they (and you) can be held liable for damages or financial loss that this advice causes? If you employ personal trainers or allow them to train in your gym, you should ensure they’re qualified and have their own professional liability insurance policy. You may need to extend your gym’s policy to cover staff if you provide training or classes.

Cybersecurity

This is a less obvious liability risk for fitness centres. Gyms often store a lot of information about their members digitally, including birthdays, addresses, and credit card information. Is this data protected? It’s important to physically and digitally secure this data. You can do this by:

  • Keeping access to records behind a physically locked door
  • Password protecting computers and software with complex passwords
  • Have a backup of your data on the cloud
  • Encrypt your information
  • Employ a cybersecurity company to audit you and provide best practices to protecting your data
  • Establish procedures to ensure staff protect client information and important documents

Despite the importance of data protection, nearly half of all companies have experienced some kind of cyber breach. That’s a pretty frightening statistic. Your business could be held liable for the damage caused by a cyber-attack. You can protect yourself with cyber liability insurance.

To lessen your risk of cyber-attack, consider storing all your client information in a place where it will be safe. Back it up so that you have copies of all your records, secure passwords, encryption, security protocols, and lock cabinets containing hard prints of client data. You should also reinforce the importance to your employees about the security of all your client information and important documents.

Harassment

Fitness centers and gyms are unique because they have a large target audience and draw in many different kinds of people. Acts of violence between members, sexual abuse, conflict – these can all damage both your business’ reputation and its finances. To lessen this risk, you should consider installing surveillance cameras in your gym. You may also want to develop a policy that helps deal with harassment and enforces rules to prevent it.

Damage to Personal Property

Customers often bring their personal belongings to the gym. Sometimes, these items can be damaged or stolen. Your gym or fitness centre can be held liable for this property damage or loss. A commercial general liability insurance policy will help protect you, but it’s good practice to have security cameras and offer lockable storage. Posting signs stating that items are left at the user’s own risk is also a great idea.

Liability Risks for a Fitness Centre Can Be Managed

It’s in the nature of gyms that they’re risky. By mitigating these risks as much as possible and protecting yourself with the proper liability insurance, your business can be protected.

If you’re a fitness instructor, get a quote today! Our partners at Rogers Insurance will be able to help gym owners with their commercial general liability and other business insurance needs.

Blog Author: Gabrielle Reid