5.1 Describe national legislation and guidelines relevant to the role of a Gym Instructor
5.2 Describe organisational procedures relevant to the role of a Gym Instructor
5.3 Describe the purpose of a storage plan and how to create one
5.4 Explain the health and safety implications of assembly, dismantling, hygiene and storage of equipment
5.5 Explain the practical implications of not following manufacturers’ guidelines
5.6 Identify where operating procedures, policies and manufacturers’ guidelines can be located
5.7 Explain manual handling requirements concerning the role of a Gym Instructor
Gym instructors must know and follow several important laws as part of your role and protect yourself and the people you encounter.
The UK Government’s Data Protection Act 2018 controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses, or the government. The Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Reference Data protection – GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/data-protection
Data handlers must comply with several data protection principles to avoid breaching GDPR. Data principles include:
Reference Data protection – GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/data-protection
Data protection includes sensitive information, such as:
Data handlers are required to Store confidential securely in the following manner:
It is also necessary to obtain consent from the client before discussing any aspect with other instructors or associated professionals.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (also referred to as HSWA, the HSW Act, the 1974 Act or HASAWA) is the law covering occupational health and safety in the UK. The Act states the duties for employers “to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare” of members of the public, employees, and the responsibilities they have to themselves and each other.
Conflict of interest occurs when an employee uses his or her position for personal gain or when an employee’s interest conflicts with the company’s interest. Employee conflicts of interest limit their ability to make sound, objective decisions for the company and can exist whether or not judgment is affected.
The best approach is to avoid any action or relationship which may be viewed as a potential conflict of interest between you and your company. If there’s likely to be a conflict of interest, it’s best to report the details to your manager or employer.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. A basic DBS check is a criminal record check that you can request for yourself by the employer. DBS also maintains the adults’ and children’s Barred Lists and makes considered decisions as to whether an individual should be included on one or both of these lists and barred from engaging in regulated activity.
The department responsible for:
Access to the DBS checking service is only available to registered employers entitled by law to ask individuals to reveal their full criminal history (other than protected cautions and convictions).
Employers will carry out a DBS search as part of their safeguarding procedure to ensure you are suitable. Instructors wanting to work with children and vulnerable adults should attend a specific ‘Safeguarding’ course. These are available from www.sportscoachuk.org.
The term ‘safeguarding‘ means “a measure taken to protect someone or something, or to prevent something undesirable.” If you are considering working with children or vulnerable adults in a fitness environment, you must accept several key responsibilities:
A person under the age of 18
A person who is or may need community care services because of disability, age or illness; and is or may be unable to take care of, unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.
Organisations working with children or vulnerable adults must ensure a robust safeguarding policy. A well-implemented safeguarding policy ensures that children and vulnerable adults, regardless of their age, gender, religion or ethnicity, can be protected from people or activities who could cause harm.
Awareness of vulnerable groups includes:
In England, it is The Department for Education who is responsible for child protection policy. It sets out the policy, legislation, and statutory guidance on how the child protection system should work.
provides the legislative framework for child protection in England and Wales. Key principles established by the Act include:
decides on what individuals should be barred from working with children. The same body maintains an up-to-date list.
is the legislation relating to offences against children. It includes the offences of grooming, abuse of a position of trust, trafficking and covers offences committed by UK citizens whilst abroad. It also updates the Sex Offenders Act 1997 by strengthening the monitoring of sex offenders.
or the DDA is the legal requirement applying in the United Kingdom. The Act. states that it unlawful for any service provider to discriminate against people with disabilities.
The importance of valuing EQUALITY and DIVERSITY when working with clients
The term ‘EQUALITY‘ refers to the goal of creating a fairer society so that individuals or groups are not treated differently or discriminated against due to their sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, age, or disability.
Also, the Act recognises the differences in individuals known as diversity. And that diversity is respected to allow individuals to reach their full potential as part of an all-inclusive culture.
Equality and diversity are supported by the Equality Act, which became law in 2010. The Act. states that employers and employees must comply with the law and know how to act to ensure workplaces are free from discrimination, are fairer for all.
All staff must play a role in promoting equality and diversity and be aware of any discrimination, harassment, or victimisation behaviours.
Your role is to:
Personal liability insurance protects you and your family if you are held responsible for bodily injury or property damage to a third party. Personal liability covers the legal costs or damages that you are required to pay in compensation as a result.
Better known as COSHH, the central provision of this regulation requires employers to:
Carrying out a risk assessment
Employers are required to report a wide range of work-related incidents, injuries and diseases to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the nearest local authority environmental health department. The Regulations require an employer to record, in an accident book, the date and time of the incident, details of the person(s) affected, the nature of their injury or condition, their occupation, the place where the event occurred and a brief note on what happened.
The Electricity at Work Regulations applies to all aspects of the use of electricity within the workplace. They place duties on employers, employees and the self-employed to prevent danger. Carry out work on electrical systems carried out in a way that prevents danger.
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 expands on the rules regarding electrical safety in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. As with the HASAWA, employers are given duties and responsibilities to ensure all operational activity affected by electricity is done safely. All foreseeable risks are assessed and minimised as much as possible.
As well as preventing electric shocks, the regulations consider the suitability, design, construction, and installation of electrical systems used for specific tasks in the workplace. In most workplaces, the most common use of the regulations is the PAT Testing of all electrical devices or physical appliance testing.
Electricity at Work regulations aims to prevent death or injury to any person from electrical causes while working or in a work environment. Types of injuries and incidents include:
The Electricity at Work Regulations applies to every employer and self-employed person in a workplace. Every employee must co-operate with their employer by doing everything possible to ensure electrical safety is followed under regulations.
Requires employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities, and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. These regulations apply to all workplaces, including those with less than five employees and the self-employed. The regulations include:
Reference: Legislation – First aid at work – HSE. https://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/legislation.htm
The organisation should have a manual of operational procedures that all instructors are required to follow. Self-employed instructors are still required to adhere to the organisation’s policies and procedures while on the premises.
The NOP document details the day-to-day operating of a fitness facility or what it needs to do to open its doors. The guidelines specifically outline the procedures covering every aspect of the facility to ensure that services and products are consistently delivered. NOPs also demonstrate compliance with any regulation or operational practices by documenting how activities to be carried out. Sections include:
Employees and customers must be kept safe, and all staff have a responsibility to make sure procedures are followed.
An emergency action plan (EMA) details the step-by-step procedures required during emergencies such as a life-threatening situation, fire or public disturbance. The document includes a list of responsibilities, coverage areas, emergency phone numbers, who to call and report to and reporting procedures. Examples of life-threatening emergencies requiring medical attention include:
Externally related events such as hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, flooding, power outages, fires and more recently, pandemics will be listed in the EMA.
Gyms and organisations will have a designated person who is the risk manager whose role is to oversee the EMA. An emergency action plan clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of staff members for emergencies. All employees must know how to contact and communicate appropriately with the local emergency services when a situation arises.
A storage plan aims to assess and guide the storing of equipment that would otherwise pose an injury risk to users. The plan ensures adequate storage provision is provided, taking into account space available and the type of equipment to be stored—for example, the stacking of steps post-class.
Employees and members must be aware of possible obstructions such as pillars that people might walk into, or that might obstruct their view of visual instructions. Safety is an essential element of storage plan design.
Storage Plans should be designed and operated to:
Gyms are busy areas providing for a unique set of health and safety challenges. The step in creating a safety plan is to identify all potential hazards or areas or activities that could harm. Examples include trailing cables from treadmills, a frayed cable system and dumbbells left on the floor.
Do the following:
Slips, trips and falls are a common injury mechanism, especially in the gym environment, which is why it’s vital to keep the area clean and clear and that people are free to move. Equipment placed back in its proper storage and broken or damaged equipment reported immediately with action taken. Cordon off equipment or areas and inform members with signage.
Safety signs are the primary way to communicate warnings or messages to customers, staff and other users such as contractors and visitors. Employers are responsible for controlling the workplace and must comply with the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 (the Regulations). Ensure signs are placed in the correct places to convey their message.
A safety sign is an instruction or information about safety or health at work using a signboard, colour, an illuminated sign or acoustic signal, verbal communication or hand signal.
Safety sign examples
Being only one cell thick, capillaries are the smallest type of blood vessel, so they’re incredibly thin. Blood pressure within the capillaries is very low (otherwise you would bleed to death), declining along their length from less than 35mmHg to about 18mmHg.
The thin walls allow oxygen, nutrients and carbon dioxide to exchange (via diffusion) between the capillaries and the body’s cells and from the body’s cells to the capillaries.
The role of veins is to carry mainly deoxygenated blood towards the heart. However, the pulmonary vein is the exception, carrying oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left atrium.
Venous pressure is low, only about 18mmHg from the venules to the right atrium. Due to the low pressure, veins have thin walls and a large lumen. The low pressure in veins means blood would struggle to return to the heart without a sufficient mechanism to aid return. Fortunately, several mechanisms assist venous return to the right atrium, which enable them to deal with low blood pressure flow. One striking feature is that veins below the heart level are lined with non-return valve structures. Once blood is pumped through the valve system, they shut, stopping any backflow of blood which would otherwise pool in the lower extremities.
Safety signage is one aspect of implementing safety procedures; the other is communicating essential guidelines to staff and delivering the relevant training. Health and safety is an ongoing exercise to keep members and staff safe in the working environment.
Lifting, moving and twisting while carrying heavy items places a considerable amount of strain on the body. Too much strain or strain in the wrong areas can result in minor or severe injury. Employees must learn how to lift correctly and know when to involve others to lift objects and equipment safely.
Safety is an ongoing process, so it is necessary for employers to regularly review, especially when changes are made to environments such as the gym and its equipment. New risks posed to users that may have were overlooked in any previous safety inspection or risk assessment.
When considering how to assess hazard types in the workplace, employers should follow the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974, published by the Health and Safety Executive. The Act. is the UK legislation covering all matters relating to health and safety at work. The Act. details guidelines on risk assessment strategies, policies, and procedures.
All chemicals must be used and stored by following the manufacturer’s instructions and industrial guidelines (this information is on Safety Data Sheets). Meaning chemicals are appropriately labelled and stowed in both primary and secondary containers and an organised environment
Advice on storage
Following the storage safeguard guidelines minimises the danger of falling or dropping containers if control or balance is lost.
Fitness environments include many pieces of technical and complex fitness equipment. As a result, manufacturers will produce guidelines on equipment assembly, manual handling and equipment maintenance to ensure proper safe use and the equipment’s longevity.
Typically, the manufacturer’s guideline is stored safely but accessible to those it may concern. Fitness instructors are often required to carry out essential maintenance on fitness machines, so knowing equipment details and precautions is wise.
Equipment maintenance checks should be carried out regularly and recorded. Larger facilities may have a dedicated person, but it is usually the duty instructor responsible for checking equipment.
Keeping workplaces clean stops germs from spreading, reassuring its users is part of good service. Where there are people, there are germs, and the gym is no exception. Germs can linger on your body, and in some cases, make you sick. Gym cleanliness ranks among the most important factors in member satisfaction surveys.
Poorly maintained facilities are unhygienic, eventually becoming a health hazard. Nobody wants to be exposed to a toxic environment, and it’s not good for business either. In a recent study conducted by IHRSA, if a gym was considered unclean, retention rates fell from 90% to 52%. Members consider cleanliness as a leading reason they select a club.
A philosophy of cleanliness must permeate facilities with club hygiene and cleanliness upheld. All employees must take part in the upkeep and maintenance of the club. Hygiene and cleanliness is everybody’s responsibility.
Typically, cleaning checklists and designated times are checked multiple times per day. Shower areas and changing facilities are key hotspots, and high traffic areas need to be regularly checked.
All instructors should take care of their body and personal hygiene. Personal hygiene includes bathing/showering, washing your hands, and brushing your teeth.
When on duty washing your hands is very important.
Wash your hands after the following situations:
Gym members must also play their part in keeping facilities clean and hygienic. Place a polite message/signage in areas needing high levels of hygiene, reminding members to clean equipment down after use or wash their hands after using the toilet. Sanitisers should be made available and bins available in key areas.
According to FitRated.com:
If a gym was considered unclean, customer satisfaction ratings fell from 83% to 43%, and retention rates fell from 90% to 52%.
Storage of equipment after use
All equipment must be stored safely in the designated areas after use where appropriate and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Remember that any equipment not stored correctly has the potential to cause injury.
Specific safety checks
Regular safety checks should take place according to the manufacturer’s guidelines and the organisation’s requirements. These checks may include the facility and equipment. How often checks are carried out may vary between organisations. Usually, checks are made against a checklist, which will be signed by the person carrying out the check and passed on to the duty manager, who will take any necessary action.
Report on any equipment damaged using the facility checklist. Take immediately to reduce risk to members who might sue faulty or damaged equipment. Place an ‘out of order sign on the damaged machine/equipment or have it removed.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions to understand how to best use equipment. The manufacturer instructions will contain specific details about the product that is not readily available anywhere else. They do this to inform consumers about the product’s specification, proper use and may include assembly instructions.
Manufacturer guidelines help protect the manufacturer as not following these could result in damage and personal injury and to others. By not following the manufacturer’s guidelines, the product warranty is often void.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are guidelines that detail the daily routines needed for a business to function. The SOP document should be stored securely but have easy access.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 define manual handling as: ‘…any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying, or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.’
Fitness instructors and clients must handle equipment and lift with good technique to minimise injury to soft tissues and damage joint intervertebral discs. Employees should receive manual handling training and aim to lift and advise on appropriate lifting techniques to anyone it applies.
The most common injury types include musculoskeletal injury, strains, damage to joints. A recent report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stated that in 2016/17, over 507,000 workers suffered from work-related musculoskeletal injuries, and 45% (229,000) were in the upper limbs or neck.
In the same HSE report, 25.7 million working days were lost in 2016/17 due to work-related ill health. Musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 35% of this number. Such a large number of lost days significantly impacts productivity and output, as employees simply aren’t working on completing their jobs. Manual handling training can reduce incidents.
Putting in place control measures to help employees understand how to lift, push, and pull correctly can solve most of these accidents.
Here are our top health and safety tips for manual handling activities: