In Service Meetings For Safety’s Sake! Part 1

To run a safe and successful health club, holding regular staff meetings, orientations and in-service meetings is important. The topic of safety, also called risk management, should always be a part of those meetings. My experience as a sport and recreational safety consultant suggests that you should hold in-service meetings dedicated solely to lowering the chance of injury to your clients and members. Decreasing the chance of injury to participants is necessary, and it is also good for business.

Risk management is not difficult. It can, in fact, be boring, until someone gets hurt. The key to risk management is the simple act of making safety important. This means keeping your staff sensitized and vigilant to the task of decreasing the chance of injury. Having in-service meetings dedicated to this topic will help to make safety an important issue in your facility. Keeping this issue front and center can do much to limit injury and litigation.

Of course, no one can guarantee the safety of another. The best fitness centers and the most safety conscious centers still have accidents. All you can do, and all that the law requires of you, is to have safeguards. That means working at eliminating as many foreseeable hazards as possible. It means teaching your employees to also be risk managers.

Risk-management meeting tips

Following are some basic suggestions for holding risk-management meetings:

1. Have a meeting at least once a month dedicated to safety.

2. Limit the meeting, whenever possible, to one hour. Start on time and end on time, or a little sooner.

3. Select a time when you can get everyone, or almost everyone, to the meeting. One club owner holds his meetings during the slowest times at his facility. He closes off most of his club, but keeps the most popular areas supervised, and places “closed from 2 to 3 p.m.” signs in each closed area. The club notifies members in advance, and tells them the staff is working on issues of safety (a good PR tool).

4. Require speakers and/or leaders of meetings to be prepared, and have them submit an outline of their topics ahead of time. Nothing is more counterproductive than to hold a meeting when it’s unnecessary, or to listen to someone who has nothing to say.

5. If you have guest speakers, remind them of time limits, and ask to review (orally or in written form) the material that will be presented.

6. Make sure meetings don’t turn into coffee breaks or lunch time. If a meeting is called, it should be important enough to have everyone’s full attention.

Meeting topic suggestions

Topic meeting. Begin with a topic meeting, and ask your staff members what they want to discuss, what they want to learn and what important topics have come up in your facility, and include these topics in your itinerary for the next half-year. Ask staff members to team up and lead some of those meetings. Getting staff involved with projects such as this can promote teamwork and group responsibility.