Summer Safety

Summer usually means an increase in visitors to recreation facilities; this year, expect an even larger crowd as people seek out free or inexpensive recreation during this economic downturn. Now is the time to prepare: take inventory of facilities, staff and grounds to ensure guests have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Safety Committee

Before you can assess facilities and grounds, assemble a safety team to lead the charge. Many facilities rotate safety-committee members every year or at least every two years, as new faces bring new energy and eyes to policies and procedures.

Begin by reviewing last season’s accidents and incidents, as well as any “near misses,” not only to confirm all repairs have been successfully completed, but also to ensure that new policies and procedures have been implemented to thwart any repeats in the upcoming season.

Be sure to monitor ADA compliance in planning and inspections as well. At least one employee with knowledge of ADA regulations and guidelines should be a member of the committee.

In addition to reviewing safety for guests, don’t forget about employees. Since OSHA and labor laws require notices on safety and employment be posted at appropriate places where they are clearly visible to all employees (such as in offices, shops and work areas), a visual check is advised to ensure they are up-to-date.

Evaluating Employees

If your facility hires new employees for the summer months, now is the time to begin interviewing and training. As the economy is still recovering, you may find an abundance of older candidates available to fill positions for which you typically hire teenagers. Consider hiring an older candidate first, as his or her maturity and experience may be tremendous assets for operations and maintenance needs during the new season.

When hiring new employees, check his or her background information thoroughly, paying close attention to references and work history. Research criminal and civil litigation that may be in public records, as well as any certifications and education accomplishments listed on an employment application. (It’s not a bad idea to check public records for current employees, as long as you are searching records.) If an employee will handle cash transactions, a credit check is in order. You may also want to consider drug testing as part of hiring and employment policies.

This may also be the perfect opportunity to evaluate the employee manuals, policies and training for full-time employees. Take time to remind current employees of safety and loss-prevention policies and procedures, including the emergency-crisis plan. It is also a good practice to address your employee trainers and update their training materials, practices and procedures for the new-hire process. Check that all current employee certifications are up-to-date, and remind staff to participate in relevant continuing-education opportunities.

Once you have squared away personnel issues, it’s time to take a thorough look at the facilities.

Maintenance Shop

Take a complete inventory of materials and supplies on hand, and compare it to last year’s normal usage; this is an effective way to start the new season-readiness process, particularly in the maintenance department.

Running short of necessary supplies not only delays work, but may cause shortcuts in repair and maintenance. For instance, an employee may be tempted to skip replacing all of the bolts and washers during a repair if the bins are running low. Avoid this by making sure items are properly stocked.

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