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Identifying injury causing hazards in fitness facilities
thesisposted on 26.02.2017, 22:51 by Gray, Shannon Elise
Despite the popularity of fitness facilities as a venue for physical activity, little research has been conducted into injuries sustained during fitness activities conducted within them or to evaluate relevant injury prevention strategies. The limited published epidemiological data on injuries sustained by fitness activity participants varies in its detail, quality and age. As a result of this limited research, effective injury prevention strategies applicable to fitness facilities have been difficult to develop. Given the lack of relevant epidemiological and injury prevention research, there is a clear need to address this knowledge gap. To begin with, there is a need to understand the trends in injury frequency associated with fitness activities over time, as well as the type and severity of injuries sustained, and the broad injury causes and fitness activities they are most commonly associated with. Whilst broad cause and activity information is meaningful to present the injury problem and justify further research, it is more necessary to determine the specific fitness activities participated in at the time of injury and the specific cause of any injuries. Only by understanding the specific details of how and why an injury occurs, and the activity preceding the injury, can targeted injury prevention strategies be developed. With detailed knowledge of the causes of injuries sustained when participating in particular fitness activities, the hazards that may have been present and contributed to the injury occurring in the first place can be identified. Identification of the injury-causing hazards allow for their control so that fewer injuries occur in the future. Following the development of any injury prevention strategy, it must be executed by those in the industry to be successful. Fitness industry employees would be the people most likely to implement injury prevention strategies in fitness facilities, and therefore it is important to ascertain their attitudes to safety with respect to equipment, training practices and the physical environment. Additionally, surveying fitness industry employees about safety of their workplace prompted many to place higher importance on their own and their customers’ safety. Furthermore, hazards encountered in fitness facilities were further understood by surveying the views of employees. Using the results from the epidemiological studies and the survey of fitness industry employees, an observational audit checklist specific for fitness facilities was developed. Its aim being to assess the health and safety conditions of a fitness facility, including the equipment and environment, whilst identifying known injury-causing hazards. The observational audit tool was tested in validity and reliability studies. It was also shown to be able to successfully record the conditions and layout of fitness facilities, and identify known hazards for injury. This research is significant because regular use of the specifically-designed observational audit tool in the future will assist in risk management strategies of fitness facilities by identifying injury-causing hazards. Once identified, these hazards could be minimised or eliminated with appropriate control measures, prompting minimisation of injuries and improved safety for all those who use fitness facilities for their physical activity.