How can you manage the different areas of risk that appear in your gym? Craig Howard, the owner of Diablo CrossFit, and Eric Reingen, the assistant vice president of CrossFit RRG, Inc., gave advice that fell into five main categories.
Howard said this is the biggest and most obvious liability. He gave a few routes to take to decrease risk:
Provide quality programming, options for scaling and substitution, and continuing education for your staff.
Write out policies and procedures for your gym.
Document any injuries and send an email to the rest of the staff with information on the incident. This ensures a credible record and helps the rest of the staff know what’s going on with the member.
Don’t underestimate the power of a waiver. Reingen said he’s seen cases where a waiver is thrown out because there was a mistake in the name of the company. Paying attention to those details, as well as the statute of limitations in one’s state, is vital. While CrossFit RRG has a waiver template up for grabs, Reingen did recommend seeing a local attorney.
In terms of what’s in a waiver, Howard said the simpler the better.
Howard said they have careful hiring practices. In fact, any Coach that looks to lead the middle school youth program Diablo has will be put through a background check. “The reason that’s important is if something happens, even if it’s not the fault of the Coach, if there’s something in his or her background that comes up during discovery in a civil action, you’re screwed for not having done the work,” said Howard.
He said background checks aren’t that expensive and can be done online.
Howard gave several tips to keep equipment from being a risk and putting you in the position of gross negligence:
If something isn’t working properly, take it out of circulation until it’s fixed.
Have two points of failure. For example, a rope should be secured to the ceiling in two places.
Routinely inspect your pull-up rig for loose bolts, cracks, etc.
Store barbells horizontally. Howard explained they figured out early on that vertical storage of barbells allows for chalk debris and dirt to accumulate in the sleeves. Barbells will then no longer spin freely. Howard said barbells spin for a reason and if they stick, a wrist could be hurt or a lift missed.
Reingen has found contractual liability issues are the main driver behind claims. With that in mind, he gave a list of questions to ask before signing a lease:
Does your landlord know what you’re doing?
Have you played loud music?
Have 20 people dropped weights in the space to see what it’s like?
Have your neighbors listened to the noise?
What decibel level is the noise at?
What type of flooring are you working out on and will it be damaged?
This list isn’t exhaustive, and Reingen did recommend getting an engineering report done on your space and talking through your contract with a local attorney.
Howard also added that it’s crucial to know your space’s zoning. “Do your due diligence with the city and with the landlord and any other government agencies to make sure you can operate before you even sign a lease,” he said.