The development and application of an observational audit tool for use in Australian fitness facilities

Shannon E. Gray, Betul Sekendiz, Kevin Norton, Joachim Dietrich, Patrick Keyzer, Ian R. Coyle, Caroline F. Finch

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To ensure a minimal chance of injury, it is important for fitness facilities to provide users with a safe environment. The aim of this study was to pilot an observational audit tool (OAT) developed specifically for fitness facilities across Australia. Methods: An OAT was designed, trialled and amended to ensure objective components. Audits were conducted at 11 regional and metropolitan fitness facilities across four Australian states. Face and content validity of the tool was assessed. Results:
The OAT was found to have high face and content validity. The median recorded temperature in each activity area was above the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommended level; however, the median illuminance of each area was below these levels. The median distance behind treadmills was found to be less than the minimum distance recommended by manufacturers. In the majority of facilities, walkways were clear of obstacles (eight facilities) and most floor surfaces were in good condition (ten facilities). Only five facilities were supervised at all times, and only six clearly displayed their rules and etiquette. Free weights equipment was observed laying on floors (not in dedicated storage areas) in seven facilities.
Fitness facility operators are advised to conduct regular risk assessments to ensure that rules and behaviour policies are easily seen and followed. It is desirable to have a systematic risk management program that is standardised throughout Australia to ensure the risk of injuries associated with poor risk management, as well as the likelihood of consequent legal liability, are reduced.
Practical applications: Observational safety audits that are regularly conducted in fitness facilities are an important tool that can help to identify potential injury-causing hazards so that they may be controlled. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Fitness Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


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