To minimise liability risks related to the provision of fitness services to the general public, the use of pre-exercise screening is essential in order to understand a client’s health

Facility owners and operators, managers, personal trainers, other fitness industry professionals and their employees all face a number of risks in providing fitness services to the general public.

To minimise liability risks related to the provision of fitness services to the general public, the use of pre-exercise screening is essential in order to understand a client’s health and possible diseases, it also allows an improved, tailored service to be provided and can minimise the probability of life-threatening complications or injuries during exercise.

Exercise and Sport Science Australia [ESSA], Fitness Australia [FA] and Sports Medicine Australia [SMA] have collaborated on a new pre-exercise screening system called the APSS (Adult Pre-Exercise Screening System).  Through use of the APSS fitness industry professionals are able to gather detailed important information about the health or disease of new clients or members in a way that is consistent with nationally recognised professional practice and in accordance with the most current evidence about exercise risk.  The APSS tool/form is available at https://fitnessaustralia.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/uploaded_file/file/201/Australian-Adult-Pre-Exercise-Screening-Tool.pdf

Pre-exercise Screening

Based on this tool and in conjunction with AFIRM research, the Adult Pre-exercise Screening System has been developed into an interactive, online tool providing an easy and effective way for all fitness industry professionals to undertake pre-exercise screening, with directly downloadable results.  The Adult Pre-exercise Screening System is accessible as a free electronic tool, on the home page of this website.

Adopting the new APSS enhances your risk management strategy by reducing the risk of serious injuries or incidents, and providing evidence of compliance with ‘duty of care’.

Additional pre-exercise screening activities may include:

  1. Health assessments conducted in a fitness facility, which are designed to provide information about a participant’s fitness level and to enable comparisons to norms and standards of people of the same gender and age, as well as to track changes over time.
  2. Cardiovascular screening which is undertaken by medical professionals when following the APSS procedures for those at higher risk. Cardiovascular screening is suggested as a way to plan and prepare for a potential cardiovascular event in your facility.

It is important that fitness professionals are aware of the federal and state laws and standards that may apply to health and fitness assessments to ensure compliance. Operating within your ‘scope of practice’ as a fitness industry professional means you avoid ‘diagnosing’/making a medical judgement, ‘treating’, ‘prescribing’ or counselling a client.

By undertaking pre-exercise screening and referring a client to a medical practitioner for cardiovascular screening when you have reasonable cause to do so, you are demonstrating a ‘duty of care’ and in so doing, are reducing risk and potential liability.

For more information on pre-exercise screening, see pages 61-68 of ‘Exercise Safe; The Australian Fitness Industry Risk Management Manual’. http://www.fitnessriskmanagement.com.au/pdf/The-Australian-Fitness-Industry-Risk-Management-Manual.pdf