Exercise at Work

We are a small-ish (300 employees) non-profit organization in the beginning stages of developing a Health and Wellness program.  We have partnered with the YMCA and a local chain of gyms to offer discounted/no enrollment fees and discounted monthly membership fees.  We are reviewing the results of a Health and Wellness survey we just sent out, and have found the MANY employees want to have exercise programs onsite.  They want the convenience and a lower cost than joining a full gym.  We are interested and willing to look into offering classes at lunch or after work (unpaid time) but have some major concerns regarding employer liability.  My initial thought is to require liability waivers and Dr. permission notes for participation.  Is that enough?  Does anyone have any good information/resources regarding this?


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  • You might want to check with your worker's comp carrier and/or your general liability carrier.  They should be able to steer you in the right direction for your state.
  • Would this require an employee/s  to manage the facility and insure that equipment is used properly?  The liablity issue could put a damper on what you can provide to employees...good thinking.

  • Along with checking with your insurance carrier re liability, you will also need an employment policy outlining rules (signing in and out) and any limits on the use of the equipment (hours of operation, etc.).

    Of course, there are now health issues regarding use of equipment itself, so you will have to train anyone using the equipment in how to clean equipment for use by next employee and have the supplies (antibacterial wipes, etc.) available.

    State that failure to follow the policy will result in employee not being able to use equipment.

    Also, you will have to designate someone as being responsible for unlocking/locking room if it is available before or after regular work hours and for checking on condition of equipment, cleanliness of room, etc.


  • We are thinking more along the lines of fitness classes like Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics, etc.  We are not in a financial position to be able to provide full-scale exercise equipment.
  • It depends on your state law, but in some state recreational activites are exempt from workers' compensation coverage. But I'd check with your carrier and research your state law. And, if you are going to offer classes, I would make sure that you have employees provide their own equipment (mats, weights, whatever) and be sure that the instructor is certified.
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