1-888-643-2217 Email ABEX
Keeping you updated

Monthly Archives: May 2017

Risk Management for Fitness Facilities

Fitness facilities are popular destinations for those looking to get in shape, and the owners and operators of these facilities are passionate about helping their members better their health. However, to best serve their members, owners of fitness centres need to address the unique risks associated with their business.

This Risk Insights reviews some of the most common risks associated with fitness facilities and provides ways business owners can limit their exposures.

Workout Classes

While group fitness classes and boot camps are popular, they can put participants at risk. When offering such classes, remind those participating that they should only sign up for programs that suit their level of fitness. For further protection, you can ask patrons to sign a waiver and release form.

Offering beginner and intermediate programs in addition to high-intensity classes is another great way to ensure a participant’s skill level is paired with the correct workout. Additionally, you should empower all instructors to move participants out of a class and into another, more skill-appropriate class, if necessary.

Trips and Falls

Because patrons of your facility are running, jumping and using heavy equipment in crowded workout areas, they are at risk of tripping and falling. Installing non-slip floor materials where appropriate can greatly reduce the likelihood of a fall. Rubber floors, mats and gym turf are reliable flooring options that also act as a shock absorbent, protecting the floor from damage caused by weightlifting and other activities. The type of flooring that’s right for various workout areas depends on the activities being performed. Be sure to conduct thorough research prior to any major purchase.

Staff should also avoid mopping heavily trafficked floors during peak hours, as this can create a slipping hazard.

However, employees should address any spilled substances immediately to eliminate the potential for an accident.

To further protect patrons from slips and falls, it’s important to practise good housekeeping by removing objects like weights, electrical cords and exercise balls from common walkways. In addition, you should instruct members to always return equipment to its appropriate storage location when they are done using it.

Regardless of how an injury occurs, it’s important that you log any incidents that occur at your fitness facility. You can use signage to educate fitness facility members on the rules of the gym, common hazards to watch for and ways to avoid injury.


While most trainers you hire may be exemplary employees, they can be a source of serious liability. For example, a trainer could encourage a patron to exercise above their ability during a workout, causing serious physical or emotional trauma.

In addition, because trainers work closely with their clients, the risk of sexual and other types of harassment increases in fitness facilities. To combat this, it’s important to screen your personal trainers heavily during the hiring process. You will want to examine a trainer’s demeanour and professional qualifications closely during interviews.

Exercise Equipment

Exercise equipment and weights, if used improperly or without a spotter, can cause broken bones, sprains and other types of injuries.

What’s more, equipment can break if it is misused or abused, leading to costly repairs and a reduction in the quality of your members’ experience when their favourite equipment is unusable.

To mitigate these risks, consider the following:

  • Inspect all of your machines regularly for loose or frayed cables and other damage. Machines may be used by hundreds of members each day, so they can deteriorate and malfunction quickly.
  • Train your staff on how and when to decommission machines that are not in perfect working order. A “do not use” tag should be attached to equipment that is out of service.
  • Make sure treadmills are strategically placed to reduce the possibility of a gym member stumbling and being thrown into a wall. Pad any walls behind treadmills that cannot be repositioned.
  • Train all club members on the proper use of equipment. Monitor the workout areas, and intervene if risky behaviour is observed.
  • Purchase quality equipment from a reputable dealer who is able to offer parts and service. Keep a repair kit on hand in your gym.
  • Lubricate the pedals of exercise bicycles, elliptical machines and cross trainers regularly.
  • Avoid installing equipment that can be especially hazardous. This can include cable pull-downs, seated crunch machines, machine abductors and abdominal rotation machines.
  • Instruct patrons to wipe down communal equipment before and after they use it. This will keep bacteria from breeding on shared equipment like cardio machines, weights and yoga mats. Your staff should also perform thorough cleanings of all machines and equipment on a regular schedule.

The Locker Room

Because locker rooms are designed for privacy, the likelihood of an assault or other emergency can be high. Regardless of the calibre of your clientele, these incidents can happen without warning. As such, it’s important to make sure a staff member is present or conducts checks of the locker room in regular intervals.

You will also want to consider the personal property of your fitness facility members. Above all, it’s important for your locker room to have properly maintained and functioning lockers. You can also control access to lockers and locker rooms by using a key system that requires members to check in at the front desk. This can not only help control instances of theft, but also allow for strict monitoring.

In addition to the risk of theft in locker rooms, there is also the risk of injury, as many locker rooms also feature shower facilities. Whenever water is present, there’s a chance gym patrons could slip and fall. Ensure that your shower area is equipped with adequate drainage, particularly in walkways between showers and doorways. The staff member assigned to monitor the locker room should also keep an eye out for soap spillage or other liquids that could make walkways slick.

Locker rooms can also be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria that cause athlete’s foot, warts and brittle nails. As such, patrons should be instructed to wear flip-flops or other footwear in the shower, pool and locker room areas.

The Pool Area

Depending on the complexity of your fitness facility, you may provide pool access to your patrons. Similar to shower facilities, pool decks create slip and fall risks, which, in turn, create liability exposures. To limit the risk, it’s important to ensure that the general walkways of the pool deck are free of hoses, mats and other slipping and tripping hazards.

In addition, swimming itself creates its own set of risks. For instance, patrons could drown or get injured on the diving board. What’s more, many types of bacteria can survive easily in swimming pools, circulating among different swimmers to spread illnesses.

To address the above risks, it’s important to do the following:

  • Post appropriate signage in and around the pool area. The signs should detail the rules of the pool and the general risks associated with using your facilities.
  • Ensure that lifeguards and personnel are present, properly trained and alert.
  • Keep lifesaving equipment close to the pool at all times.
  • Be aware of the pool depth and enforce “no diving” restrictions in shallow areas.
  • Keep the pool water properly filtered and chemically treated at all times.

It should be noted that water and chlorine are excellent conductors of electricity, making swimming pools very hazardous in unsafe electrical conditions. To limit the risk of electrical shock to those using the pool, keep in mind the following:

  • Never store ungrounded electrical equipment near the pool.
  • Only use only ground circuit fault interrupter (GCFI) outlets in the pool area.
  • Keep patrons out of the pool during lightning storms.

External Risks

The risks of running a fitness facility are not simply limited to liability issues. Like any business, fitness facilities could be the victims of cyber attacks, natural disasters or other emergencies.

In terms of external risks, it’s important for managers to keep in mind the following:

  • Cyber risks. Small businesses are often easier to hack, which means that your customers’ data—their names, addresses and credit card information—could be a target for cyber criminals. As more and more fitness facilities move to online solutions for enrollment and class scheduling, proper cyber-security measures are becoming vital.
  • Catastrophic events like wildfires, floods, earthquakes and wind storms can strike without warning. When they do, businesses could face costly, sometimes debilitating, damage.
  • Emergencies like explosions, violent acts, shootings, sexual abuse and disease outbreaks can impact fitness facilities at any time. The cost to recover from these incidents and repair your reputation is often significant—sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Get the Coverage You Need

The risks a fitness facility faces are many, and organizations that fail to mitigate their exposures may find themselves in expensive legal trouble.

Because the type and severity of risks is largely dependent on a fitness facility’s specific features, it’s important to speak with a broker about coverage options. He or she will be able to analyze your exposures and determine the coverage that is right for your business.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Preventing Illegal Grow Operations in Rental Properties

Regardless of the legal status of recreational marijuana in your area, unauthorized grow operations are illegal and can be a huge problem for landlords. Rental properties are a common target for growers, as they are private facilities criminals can use without having to worry about damaging their own property.

Grow operations breed criminal activity and can ruin the reputation of a neighbourhood and a property rental business. To protect themselves, property owners should understand the dangers of grow operations and know how to determine if one of their properties is being used to illegally grow marijuana.

Grow Operation Dangers

Grow operations aren’t just a landlord’s problem, as they can be incredibly dangerous to the general public. The following are some common hazards associated with grow operations that can impact neighbours, your property company and future residents:

  • Electrocutions and fires—Most homes aren’t designed to handle the amount of power required for a grow operation. To remedy this, criminals often connect to a main power feed in a neighbourhood in what is called electricity bypassing. This process not only charges the ground and creates electrocution hazards for passersby, but it also overloads electrical systems. This can cause power failures in the area, high utility bills and fires, which, in turn, could damage nearby homes and cause extensive damage.
  • Health hazards—In order to properly grow marijuana, criminals often have to modify heating and ventilation systems inside a property. Because grow operations require the use of chemicals, dangerous fumes and gases can build up in a home or be ventilated outside, harming neighbours. In addition, poor ventilation creates mould and fungus that could harm the health of future renters.
  • Violence and bodily injury—Because grow operations are run by criminals, weapons are often kept on the premises. Growers can use these weapons to protect their investment. Grow operations increase the risk of injury and violence in an area, even leading to residual crime.
  • Property values—Growers are typically unconcerned about the appearance of the property they are renting. In many cases, these individuals will modify a premise to fit their needs, regardless of whether it is damaging a residence. This can make a property look unsightly, which can make it more difficult to rent in the future or even drive down the value of a neighbourhood.

In many cases, damage caused by the illegal activity of your tenants will not be covered by an insurance policy. If you are unaware of a grow operation, you could be left with an unappealing and unsafe property.

Signs Your Rental Property is a Grow Operation

The earlier you discover one of your rental properties is being used as a grow operation, the better. Knowing how to spot whether or not criminal activity is occurring on your premises can mean the difference between minor damages or a condemned property.

The following are some common signs that a property is being used as a grow operation:

  1. The windows of the property are constantly blacked out or barred.
  2. Brown stains can be found around the property’s soffit and siding. You may also notice that the property’s roof is free of snow all winter long.
  3. There is a large amount of condensation on the windows on a consistent basis.
  4. The home is barely furnished and mould can be found in the corners of walls and ceilings.
  5. Electrical meters appear to have been tampered with.
  6. Furnaces, hot water tanks and other appliances have been removed, and the property is muggy and humid on the inside.
  7. Your tenants pay rent in cash and are reluctant to allow you stop by the property. In addition, visitors to the residence act suspiciously and only stay for brief periods of time.
  8. The area around the property has an unpleasant smell. Growing operations often give off skunk-like odours.
  9. “Beware of dog” or “guard dog on duty” signs are prevalent around the property. These can be used by criminals to deter trespassing and to protect against thieves.
  10. The neighbourhood experiences localized power surges often and unexpectedly.

While these signs don’t necessarily confirm that a property is being used as a grow operation, they are good indicators. If you suspect your property is being used for criminal activities, avoid confronting tenants directly and contact your local authorities.

Preventing Grow Operations

While knowing how to identify grow operations is important, it’s best to try to prevent criminal activity from developing in the first place. This can typically be accomplished during the initial rental process.

The following are some good strategies to keep in mind:

  • Refuse to deal only in cash and perform a credit check on all potential tenants. If possible, conduct a background check as well.
  • Require at least three references from other landlords. Be sure to follow-up with these individuals to ensure there were no previous issues.
  • Tell all prospective tenants that you have a right to perform regular inspections of the premises.
  • Maintain an open line of communication with all of your tenants to show that you are invested in your property.
  • Make plans to be at the property during the initial move in. That way you can ensure that your property is not a front and is actually being used for housing.

Don’t Let Grow Operations Cost You

Properties that have been used for grow operations require remediation, which can be a long and expensive process. Depending on the size of the property, remediation costs can be as high as $150,000 and a complete gut of the residence is often required.

To protect yourself, you will want to take steps to prevent grow operations from impacting your bottom line. In addition, consider speaking with your broker to learn about your coverage options and what exposures you may have.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

The Importance of Cyber Insurance for Manufacturers

While it’s commonly thought that cyber breaches are only a threat for large companies, small and mid-size businesses are just as much at risk. This is especially true for manufacturers, as it is an industry norm for them to quickly adopt new, more efficient technologies—technologies that are often a target of cyber criminals.

While specific cyber exposures for manufacturers are vast, they typically include the following:

  • Data breaches. Almost every business stores sensitive information. For manufacturers, this typically includes personally identifiable information of employees and customers. Items like names, addresses and credit card information are all at risk.
  • Third-party damages. When an email sent from your server has a virus and crashes the system of a customer, you could be held liable for the damages.
  • Business interruption. A natural disaster, malicious activity or fire can cause physical damages that could result in data or code loss. Manufacturing businesses often require the use of computer systems, and a disaster can halt your ability to transmit data and lead to lost revenue.
  • Cyber extortion. Hackers can hijack websites, networks and stored data, denying access to you or your customers. They often demand money to restore your systems to working order. Because a variety of manufacturing projects are time sensitive, delays of any kind can wreak havoc on an organization’s bottom line.

All of the above exposures apply to businesses of all sizes and industries. A critical cyber incident could result in financial loss or severe reputational damages. What’s more, without cyber insurance, businesses are not adequately protected from cyber exposures.

Standard commercial policies are written to insure against injury or physical loss and will do little, if anything, to shield you from electronic damages and the associated costs they may incur. To protect your business, speak with your broker about cyber insurance today.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

10 Steps to Follow When Moving Your Business

When relocating your business, timing is key. You will want to ensure that you avoid moving during your busy periods. To help ensure a smooth transition, consider creating a planning spreadsheet that breaks down tasks and deadlines.

On occasion, businesses must move their operations elsewhere following things like the end of a lease or an organizational expansion. While moving a business can sometimes be an exciting milestone, it often takes months of meticulous planning and an eye for the finer details.

What’s more, during a move, businesses may experience challenges that can adversely impact their bottom lines if the proper planning isn’t considered. As such, it’s important to keep in mind the following to ensure a successful move:

  1. Set a moving budget, accounting for all moving and transitioning services, potential updates to the new location, lost revenue due to downtime and any insurance needs.
  2. Create an internal move committee and hold meetings to discuss action items. This group will also help you keep track of receipts, invoices, contracts and other important documentation.
  3. Communicate moving plans to your employees well in advance.
  4. Hire a qualified mover and order packing materials.
  5. Take inventory on connectivity requirements, scheduling the removal of technology from the current facility and installation at the new facility. Make several backup copies of all company data.
  6. Identify a point person who will handle any questions during the move.
  7. Create move packets for employees, complete with parking instructions, building information, seating charts, packing materials, expectations and the finalized move schedule.
  8. Collect old security keys and ID cards, and distribute new ones.
  9. Remind employees to unpack, and provide instructions on where to stack boxes and moving materials, if applicable.
  10. Confirm that all change-of-address corrections have been made.

In addition to the above, consider revising your insurance policies and discussing any additional insurance needs in preparation for the move with your broker.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved



Receive notifications of new posts automatically.


Like us on Facebook

Connect with us on LinkedIn