The Development and Application of an Observational Audit Tool for use in Australian Fitness Facilities

Issue: Vol. 5 No 1

Published by Journal of Fitness Research, April 2016.

Tags: Safety , Risk Management , Injury , Fitness Centre , Audit

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  1. Shannon E. Gray (Corresponding Author)
    Monash Injury Research Institute, Monash University, Clayton, Australia.rnAustralian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP), Federation University Australia, Ballarat, Australia
  2. Betul Sekendiz
    School of Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia
  3. Kevin Norton
    School of Health Science, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
  4. Joachim Dietrich
    Centre for Law, Governance and Public Policy, Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia
  5. Patrick Keyzer
    School of Law, LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Australia
  6. Ian R. Coyle
    School of Law, LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Australia
  7. Caroline F. Finch
    Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP), Federation University Australia, Ballarat, Australia


Introduction: 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 at11 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 activityarea 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.

Conclusions: 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 toolthat can help to identify potential injury-causing hazards so that they may be controlled

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Article Title

The Development and Application of an Observational Audit Tool for use in Australian Fitness Facilities

Journal Title

Journal of Fitness Research

Online Publication Date

April 2016

Author Names

Shannon E. Gray (Corresponding Author)
Betul Sekendiz
Kevin Norton
Joachim Dietrich
Patrick Keyzer
Ian R. Coyle
Caroline F. Finch

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