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Saturday 25 January 2014

Who's doing your Gym Inspection?

Health and Safety law requires all gym operators to maintain their gym equipment to a safe standard. An easy way to ensure you comply with this legislation is to have your kit inspected and  maintained periodically by a gym repair specialist. 
But how do you know that the person issuing your inspection certificate is qualified to do so? In other words, if it came to it the crunch and you needed to demonstrate in a court of law that you have had your equipment adequately maintained, would your gym inspection certificate be worth anymore than the paper it is written on?
In the UK, the fitness repair industry is largely unregulated. There are trade organisation such as UK Active who provide a useful point of reference but so far as implementation of standards and safe working practices goes, there is nothing. There are the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM’s) who design and build equipment and the more well-know manufacturers would be deemed to have sufficient expertise when it comes to underwriting your gym inspection certificate. However, many gyms contain a mixture of equipment from multiple manufacturers and it’s just not practical to obtain an inspection certificate from every manufacturer to cover your whole gym!
This is where independent repair specialists can provide a solution. These people are used to dealing with all kinds of equipment; any age, any condition, any make and any model. They can have good detailed knowledge of mechanical and electrical/electronic systems and will be familiar with a range of different potential failure modes. So far so good! The problem is that anyone with a van and a toolbox can adopt the title of “Technician” or “Engineer” when in fact, they may be better qualified as a Butcher, Baker or Candlestickmaker!
Fortunately, there is a way to navigate through such nomenclatures.
For example if your gym repair specialist a sole trader, you could ask for his/her credentials. You would expect that they would have some kind of Engineering or technical background, apprenticeship indentures or Higher National Diploma for example, perhaps relevant experience in the repair service sector or a track record in with a manufacturing organisation. They should also be able to provide you with at least a couple of references that you can check out to help validate their claimed expertise.
If you are dealing with a Company then you can also enquire about their recruitment and training policy; how do they select and train their “Engineers”? A quick bit of internet research may also reveal details about who owns the Company, their client base and reveal some real-life customer reviews. You can also look to see if they are members of any relevant trade organisation. In the UK you can contact “The Fit Group” and “UK Active” both of whom have approved supplier databases.
Ultimately, you should look closely at the signature on your gym inspection certificate and ask yourself whether that person is (a) qualified to be signing the document and (b) has the relevant authority to do so. As a guide, I would suggest that the person signing your certificate should be a professional Engineer (such as a “Chartered Engineer”, “Incorporated Engineer” or “Engineering Technician”) and a member of a nationally recognised Engineering organisation such as The Engineering Council, The IET or The IMechE and that they are currently holding a senior position within in their organisation such as Owner, Director, Partner or Quality Manager.
Anything less should ring alarm bells!
You have been warned.
The Treadmill Engineer  BEng (Hons), MIET, Chartered Engineer

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