We’ve probably all heard stories of injured bootcampers blaming their instructor for an accident and seeking compensation. Not nice.
Chances are at one time or another you’ve probably had a client injure themselves at bootcamp. Whether it was a pulled muscle during sprints, a turned ankle during the warm-up or even a client taking a dizzy spell after a particularly intense interval, whatever it was how you dealt with the situation says a world to your campers about how goddamn good you are and (fingers and toes crossed) can reduce the chances of any unhappy, injured clients taking you to court.
BUT EVEN MORE IMPORTANT than being fully prepared to deal with issues as they arise is planning and predicting how/when these problems are likely to occur and putting into place a plan to prevent them from even happening. This process is called risk planning.
FAIL TO PREPARE THEN PREPARE TO FAIL
As super-professional fitness people our goal is to get our lovely clients fitter, stronger and healthier all without causing injury. So, to make it both safe and effective, not only should we need to think carefully about the physical training we deliver, but also the people, location, equipment, and environment we train with.
To do this I use the following five steps to plan and prep for every eventuality.
FIRST BEFORE YOU EVEN START TRAINING
Many of you will read the following and think: No sh*t Sherlock, this is all just common sense. Well yes, kinda.
A lot of what follows IS plain and simple common sense. But just going through the process of writing out and recording literally everything to do with your bootcamp helps you plan more accurately and effectively for issues – it may even highlight problems you hadn’t even thought of.
If you’re employed by a company/gym to run PT or classes then the good news is most of this will probably already have been been done by the health and safety people (I’d quickly double check though). If you’re a sole-trader or employing others, then this sort of stuff is a definite must do. Get the following done, keep a record somewhere safe and put a date in the diary to review and repeat the process the following year.
NOW TO RISK ASSESSING
If you’re anything like me the following will sound brain-achingly DULL. But trust me, this needs to be done and, once done, you’ll feel much better for doing it.
To properly cross the t’s and dot the i’s I suggest using some kind of risk assessment form template and guide – the are ones I use are here and here.
By completing risk assessments on a regular annual basis you can keep an accurate record should anything happen. Plus if later down the line legal people request to see your planning you’ll have evidence of how you approached making things as safe as possible.
If you’re ever in doubt as to whether you’ve recorded risk assessment stuff in the correct format I’d suggest contacting your regional exercise professional industry association and posing the question to one of their in-house experts.
1. First list all potential hazards
List absolutely all of the things you can think of that could go wrong and be as thorough as possible – anything you can think of that might be a hazard, no matter how trivial. For example:
- Weather – list anything from a light drizzle, boiling hot sunshine through to blizzard conditions, get it all down.
- Terrain – list the type of training surface (grass, concrete), condition of the ground (uneven, dry, slippery, waterlogged) and topology (inclines, declines)
- Third parties – list others that share your space or control/look after the land you use, such as local council, park rangers, local residents, etc., and whether they’re likely to complain, acting unsociably towards you, etc.
- Facilities – list hazards that might occur on other areas you might use as part of your class, anything from local restrooms, covered areas, nearby roads
- Exercise training programme/workouts – list just the main training types and the potential hazards and injuries associated with these
- Exercise equipment – list all of the equipment and anything you can think of that might go wrong
2. Now think about the persons at risk in those situations
For each of the potential hazards you’ve written down you now need to think about who they might effect.
Think carefully: do they effect only new clients, only existing clients, both, the general public, or do they put you at risk? Maybe they will effect multiple people?
3. Then write down what you’ve already put in place to deal with these hazards
For each of the hazards think about what you’ve already planned to prevent problems or deal with issues.
This could actually be stuff you automatically do, stuff that you would class as pure common sense, such as making sure relevant equipment is put away after each workout.
Another example could be a pre-exercise Physical Activity Readiness questionnaire to assess clients and potentially prevent injury before it happens, or maybe having a well-stocked first aid kit at hand.
4. Now think about what type of risk rating you would give each hazard
Include in this the severity of the hazard, give it a score between 1 (being least severe) and 10 (being very severe)
Also include the likelihood of it happening and give this a score between 1 (bring least likely) and 10 (being very likely)
Now add the two scores together and look at which of the hazards has the highest risk.
5. Finally plan out additional things you could put in place to reduce risk around the hazards
Put some real thought into this one and make sure to set an action and a deadline so it gets done.
Tackle one at a time and think about each thoroughly. Check it with someone else to see if they can think of anything you may have missed out, or any solutions you may have neglected to add.
For more information on health and safety and making your bootcamps as risk free as possible contact your own regional professional industry association’s website or give them a call.
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