Feature Article - August 2008
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Safety First

Proactive Approaches Prevent Problems

By Dana Carman

Cleanliness Means Never (Hopefully) Having to Say MRSA

Cleanliness in a fitness center is just plain good marketing, but keeping the club as clean as possible, and more, encouraging patrons to do so also, isn't just about appealing to members new and old. The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) compiled tips for preventing Staph/MRSA infections in health clubs. Rosemary Lavery, spokeswoman for IHRSA, said there have been no known cases of someone contracting MRSA from a member club, However, due to the increased press the infection has received, IHRSA recommends clubs take necessary precautions.

Staph is a type of bacteria that can cause skin infections, often through skin-to-skin contact with someone else with a Staph infection, through contact with items or surfaces that have Staph on them, though openings in the skin, crowded living conditions or poor hygiene, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant strain, making it harder to treat, and therefore more noteworthy to the media.

IHRSA recommends:

  • Revisiting the club's existing cleaning and maintenance plan with all key staff and contractors to make sure current plan is being implemented by trained staff and to determine if any changes are necessary.
  • Inspecting equipment and locker rooms and cleaning both immediately before and after prime-time traffic periods.
  • Encouraging staff to wash hands regularly with hot water and soap and providing protective gloves for staff and employees, especially cleaning staff.
  • Revisiting local health codes and regulations to confirm the facility is meeting those.
  • Keeping disinfecting wipes and/or spray available in the fitness center and making sure those and towels are available to members to wipe down surfaces and equipment.
  • Posting signage to remind members to clean equipment after use.

For more of IHRSA's recommendations, visit the Web site at www.ihrsa.org