As a personal trainer, you need to make sure that you can push your clients to their limit whilst still ensuring their safety. Therefore, it’s vital you carry out a thorough risk assessment to identify any potential hazards ahead of your sessions. This will decrease the likelihood of an accident happening and a claim being made against you.
There are generally five key steps to follow when creating a risk assessment. Let’s look at how these apply to personal trainers…
1. Identify all potential hazards
Before training clients, you need to make a list of hazards within your working space – so anything that has the potential to cause harm to an individual or property. Depending on the type of sessions you hold, here are just some of the hazards to look out for:
- Surfaces: Check the surface you’re working on is even and unlikely to cause injury. If you’re in a gym, look for bumps or inclines on the floor. If you’re training outside, check for holes in the ground or other obstructions that could cause your clients to fall and hurt themselves.
- Check the ground for signs of water, liquids or other hazards that might cause slips, trips and falls
- Exercise equipment: List all of the equipment you’re using and anything you can think of that might go wrong. Every piece of equipment should be in good working condition and properly maintained.
- Exercise training programme/workouts: List the exercises you’re teaching and the potential hazards and injuries associated with each exercise based on the muscle group(s) it targets.
- Space: Ensure you have adequate space to demonstrate your exercises, without knocking anything over or potentially causing injury to another person.
- Temperature: make sure the space you are using is at an adequate temperature and take sufficient steps to make sure participants are properly hydrated
- Weather: if the activities are outside, read the weather report and make sure you and your participants dress appropriately.
- The age of participants
- The physical abilities of participants including any existing medical conditions, injuries or disabilities
- If they are taking medication, ensure you assess any risks as part of the induction process
- The likely limitations of each participant
- The knowledge and skills the participants might have related to the activities
- The likely risk factors they will be exposed to during the activities and the monitoring or controls you will put in place to mitigate the risk
- Make sure every participant is clear about the activities they will be taking part in and ensure they are clear they can choose to stop if they feel they need to
- Make sure that participants are fully briefed and suitable protective equipment is being used where relevant
2. Decide who is at risk
Once you’ve pinpointed all the hazards in your workout area, you need to consider who is most at risk of being harmed and how. Do these hazards just affect you or do they also affect your clients? How could they cause injury or property damage? Are members of the public at risk, if you’re holding an outdoor class or a session in a shared space? When considering who might be at risk you need to consider:
These are all factors you need to consider in determining the level of risk to each person and how to plan your sessions accordingly.
3. Assess the risks and take action
This is undoubtedly the most important step of your risk assessment. Just recording the hazards in your working space doesn’t leave your clients any less at risk – you need to take the necessary action to eradicate these hazards. Anything you spot that could be deemed a hazard needs to be acted upon before you hold a class or session. If you are hiring the location, inform the renter of the issue and make sure they or you take appropriate steps.
So, for example, if you spot water on the floor, either grab a mop and make sure the surface is completely dry to avoid slippages or put up a sign to notify others. If you spot that there is an issue in your working space and you need to consult with the gym manager, you should postpone your class while you come up with a solution. If you’ve finished a class and there’s equipment lying around, make sure you store it all away safely to avoid someone tripping over it and hurting themselves.
Although this might seem like common sense, you’d be amazed at how many personal trainers are on the receiving end of claims because of not taking preventative action.
4. Make a record of the findings
This record should include details of any hazards noted, and action taken to reduce or eliminate risk. You may also want to give each hazard a rating, i.e. on the scale of 1-10. For example how likely is it that someone will injure themselves performing a particular exercise, or how likely is the surface area to cause injury?
Recording the findings shows that you have identified the hazards, decided who could be harmed and how you have taken action to mitigate or eliminate the risk.
Make sure you record your risk assessment before you start your activities. It can be useful to create a simple questionnaire for participants to complete to capture some of the information you will need to assess the risk to them (e.g. pre-existing injuries, medical conditions, etc).
5. Review the risk assessment
Each time you hold a session, you should judge whether your risk assessment encompasses everything that could go wrong and prepares you for all eventualities.
If you employ other personal trainers or fitness instructors, regularly check in with them to make sure they’re following the correct procedures. If you’re working with any new equipment or carrying out classes in any new areas, these need to be reviewed for their level of risk.
Hopefully carrying out a full risk assessment will prevent you and your clients from getting injured, causing injury to others and damaging property. However, personal trainers really should have Public Liability insurance. Public Liability covers your legal liability if you injure another person or damage third party property when coaching or instructing.
Insure4Sport offers a range of personal trainer insurance including Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, Personal Accident, Loss of Earnings and more. Get an instant online quote with us today and you’ll have the peace of mind to keep doing the job you love.