25 July 2012

What is Risk Management?

Posted by Jody under: Health .

Risk management is an ongoing, comprehensive process by which health and fitness facilities engage in internal audit programs of their facilities, programs, policies, personnel, equipment and physical plant to:

1) Identify relevant risks of injury to their clients;
2) Eliminate those risks which are so identified and which can be removed from service provision, or eliminate unnecessary risks from various activities;
3) Reduce risks which can’t be eliminated from the provision of various services or which are inherent in certain activities through a variety of mechanisms; and
4) Transfer those risks which can’t be entirely eliminated, principally through the mechanism of comprehensive, professional liability insurance coverage and other risk transference mechanisms.

Developing a risk management program

A comprehensive risk management program begins with an internal evaluation of the facility’s physical plant and all activity areas, equipment, programs and services to determine areas where injuries have occurred with some degree of frequency. To make such determinations, incident reports and other evidence of past events occurring within the facility or within the industry as a whole must be examined to determine the relevant risks. For example, professionals should be able to determine which activities result in overuse injuries; injuries caused by intense physical activity; injuries related to exercise devices; equipment and free weights; injuries related to pool, spa or other wet areas; and other kinds of injuries that may occur within the facility.

Once risks are identified, professionals should evaluate what leadership skills and supervisory requirements may be necessary to reduce or eliminate the instances of such injuries. For example, the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion might be posted within activity areas to enable participants to determine when they are engaging in too strenuous an activity that could lead to muscle fatigue, sprains, strains or overuse injuries. Aerobics instructors or exercise leaders may also suffer overuse injuries or reoccurring instances of injury or disability when engaged in too many leadership sessions per day or per week.

Programs can be modified to reduce the instances of injury by, for example, reducing the number of repetitions or the range of motion for certain exercises or activities. Relevant injuries may also be reduced through a reduction in resistance provided by various exercise equipment or by reducing the actual weight utilized during lifting activities. Efforts to identify equipment which caused injuries in the past might well lead to better equipment maintenance programs or even the replacement of machines that are found to cause a disproportionate number of injuries. Particular attention should be paid to older pieces of equipment, “home made” devices or other items which are not produced by reputable industry manufacturers.

Once risks are identified and eliminated, those risks that cannot be entirely eliminated should be reduced or minimized through the development of adequate policies, procedures and protocols designed to provide appropriate supervision for exercisers.

For example, additional staff supervision may help ensure that members are appropriately following exercise/activity recommendations or prescriptions provided by exercise leaders or supervisors.

Ongoing and indepth employee training programs may be necessary to provide staff members with the latest scientific and professional information available to assist them in improving their supervisory skills.

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