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Spring into Exercise but Avoid the ER


Spring is here, and for many people that means exercising and getting into shape for the summer months ahead. Great idea because exercise is good for people--except when it leads to injuries. Unfortunately, injuries from exercise equipment are all too common: according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC") roughly 9,000 injuries occur annually on fitness and gym equipment. (That figure includes equipment in clubs and retail equipment in homes).

What are these injuries and how do they occur? The most common injuries associated with exercise equipment are: (1) head and body trauma; (2) broken bones; and (3) lacerations and burns. The piece of fitness equipment most often involved with these injuries is the treadmill. In fact, in 2014 there were 24,000 injuries in the U.S. involving treadmills that required a visit to the emergency department; this represents a little over a third of all injuries associated with all exercise equipment according to CPSC statistics. Other exercise equipment frequently associated with injuries but less so than treadmills are: rowing machines; stair machines; elliptical machines; and weight lifting equipment.

Injuries on exercise equipment can occur in a variety of ways, but can generally be grouped into four types of causation: (1) design defect; (2) manufacturing defect; (3) faulty installation or set up; and (4) improper use. An example of a design defect causing injury would be the placement of a power switch where it is accessible to children, and a child turning on the equipment and sustaining injury. Faulty installation would be the cause of injury if, for example, rowing machines were placed so close together that an oar being used on one machine hit the user of another machine in the head.


In the examples above, both the manufacturer of the equipment and the club where the equipment was being used were negligent. Both owed a duty of care to the people using the equipment, and both breached that duty--albeit in different ways. When the breach of the duty of care proximately causes harm, then damages can be recovered.

Another common but often overlooked source of injury is poor sanitation in gyms and fitness clubs. Clubs have a duty to disinfect and sanitize showers, equipment, saunas, and other surfaces where germs can grow and lead to staph and fungal infections. If someone with a cut or even very dry skin uses handlebars on a machine that have not been sanitized, they can come into contact with the bacteria that cause staph infections. For people with compromised immune systems or health problems, staph infections can be fatal. Similarly, not disinfecting showers and saunas means that people using these areas can more easily get fungal infections; some fungal infections can be very dangerous, especially in people with other health complications.


In order to minimize the risk of injury and infection when trying to get in shape this spring, below are some safety tips:

Never leave free weights--especially barbells--in an unstable position;

Clip the treadmill safety key into your clothing; the key will turn the treadmill off if you fall;

Accelerate and decelerate on machines gradually

Discourage children's access to gym equipment by keeping it in a room with a lock, and keeping equipment off and unplugged, with the key out of reach of children

Use a towel on sauna surfaces and any other surfaces you can; always wear shower shoes; carry hand sanitizer; avoid rubbing eyes and nose when using equipment; wipe off handle bars, weights, bars, etc.

Children are especially vulnerable with respect to fitness equipment: 8,700 children under 5 years old and 16,500 children between 5-14 years old are injured on exercise equipment every year.


If you or a loved one has been injured or caught an infection due to using exercise equipment, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free evaluation of your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

Phone: (678) 264-8348.
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