Some risks also can be eliminated or reduced through the application of industry standards of practice. Facilities should be particularly knowledgeable of the standards and guidelines provided by the American College of Sports Medicine in its recent publication of the second edition of ACSM’S Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines and the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association’s (IHRSA) 1993 publication providing standards and guidelines for IHRSA member institutions.
In addition to these, other standards or recommendations from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, the American Council on Exercise, the National Strength and Conditioning Association and many others should all be considered as providing “baselines” for the appropriate delivery of services in accordance with the so-called “standard of care.” Professionals in the health and fitness industry should be aware that substandard conduct that does not meet the established norms for expected service delivery may be actionable in the event a participant is injured as a result of a deviation from such statements.
Professionals in the health and fitness industry should be particularly interested in the six standards set forth in the second edition of ACSM’S Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines. These standards deal with the following important and significant subjects:
1) Screening of facility members (facility users, presumably not members, are apparently not subject to ACSM’s screening standards);
2) Supervision of youth services/programs;
3) Professional competencies applicable to those charged with supervisory responsibilities for physical activity programs or areas;
4) The utilization of appropriate signage to alert users of facilities to the risks associated with activities;
5) Appropriate emergency response planning;
6) Compliance with all relevant and applicable laws, regulations and published standards.
Aside from these six standards, the nearly 500 guidelines contained within ACSM’s second edition cover a myriad of topics dealing with physical plant safety issues, signage, organizational structure and staffing, screening, emergency/safety procedures.
fitness testing, health promotion and wellness, exercise classrooms, fitness floor areas, gymnasiums, sports courts, pool and wet areas, outdoor recreation areas.
The guidelines are, in many respects, as important as the standards, and should be utilized whenever possible as part of any risk management plan.