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6 Winter Weather Safety Risks for Health Clubs

January and February are busy months for health clubs, but the increase in member traffic makes it even more important to keep a close eye on cold weather safety measures.

To help you keep your members and facilities safe, Philadelphia Insurance, an IHRSA Group Purchasing supplier, created a list of six winter safety considerations that should be top-of-mind over the next few months.

1. Freeze Prevention

Cold weather freeze-ups can damage or place vital fire protection systems out of service. Past losses include a single freezing-wind and snow storm which caused $880 million of property damage in 41 states. 

If inspections and preventive maintenance are not performed on your automatic sprinkler system, cold weather may result in sprinkler pipe breakage, major water damage, and an impaired automatic sprinkler system. A preventive maintenance program should be ongoing; however, it is particularly crucial during cold weather where there is a need for "winterizing" automatic sprinkler systems.  View resources on freeze prevention, including a video, check lists, and educational material, on

2. Slips, Trips, and Falls

 While some local ordinances may allow for up to 24 hours for snow and ice to be removed from sidewalks, organizations should operate with best practices in mind, rather than minimum legal requirements. If your employees, clients, and visitors need and expect a safe walking surface, the best practice is to accomplish this as soon as reasonably possible. Moreover, compliance with a local ordinance does not fully protect your organization from slip, trip, and fall liability.  For additional assistance on snow removal logs and slip, trip, and fall prevention, visit

3. Sauna Safety

Sauna usage increases as the weather temperatures decrease, therefore paying closer attention to your sauna maintenance schedule can play a huge role in preventing damage or injury.  Sauna fires are a leading cause of fire damage in health and fitness clubs, as well as occupancies such as hotels which provide saunas for their guests. These types of fires present both a property and liability exposure and have been on the rise in the past several years.   

Have a formal inspection program of the facility that includes staff walkthroughs of the locker room sauna areas every 30 minutes. The inspection should ensure that no combustible materials left in the sauna area such as towels or newspapers and that the sauna timer is off when not in use and the heater guard is operational and not blocked. Ensure that your fire sprinkler system is maintained on a regular basis and consider adding a high temperature sprinkler head into your sauna if it does not currently have fire sprinkler protection.

4. Tanning Bed Safety

Tanning bed usage can be increased in the winter months also. Tanning beds should be sanitized after each use and cleaned accordingly to manufacturers standards. Information on any chemicals used should be available for consumer review in the event of a skin irritation or other query. Using a chlorine or ammonia concentrated cleaner that is specific for tanning beds may be recommended, as it can help kill hepatitis or sweat absorbed viruses. Only one person should be permitted in the tanning room at a time as the rays may be harmful to their eyes if they are not wearing eye protection. 

5. New Member Education

It is common for health and fitness facilities to have an increase in new membership in January as many new customers are starting a New Year’s resolution to have a healthier life in the new year. While the new members are a welcomed addition to the club, they can present a heightened liability for the club if they are unfamiliar with training in a gym, especially using lifting machines. Over exertion can be a common loss exposure for a gym from members over training and injuring themselves. Proper new member screening and training can help prevent new members from hurting themselves or somebody else. 

6. Cold Weather Exercise

Even in cold weather, some members will want to continue training outside, especially runners. Consider a tips sheet for cold-weather runners, including a statement that they exercise outside at their own risk. The tips sheet should include information on proper footwear and clothing, staying visible and giving wide berth to vehicles and others on the road, running with a partner to provide help and support if needed, and knowing when safety dictates to keep the workouts inside.  

Philadelphia Insurance is a proud IHRSA Group Purchasing supplier offering a program that provides comprehensive coverage for your club. 

For more information about Philadelphia Insurance, visit

Click here to continue reading "6 Winter Weather Safety Risks for Health Clubs."

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