CSCS Study Guide Chapter 24: Facility Policies, Procedures, and Legal Issues

Chapter 24 of the Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning covers Facility policies, procedures and legal issues. Who is responsible for calling 911? This chapter answers this and other personal training questions for the CSCS exam.

Chapter 24 of the Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning is about the policies, procedures and legalities in running a strength and conditioning facility.

All staff should be educated in these and good records should be kept.

Facility Policies, Procedures, and Legal Issues

  • Program goals and objectives are essential in the development of the facility policies and procedures.
  • Policies - facility rules and regulations.
  • Procedures - how policies are carried out.
  • Litigation - the process of taking legal actions.

Mission Statement and Program Goals

  • Mission Statement - a summary of purpose and values of the organization. It is suggested that this be short, clear, define why the organization exists, broad, non prescriptive in means, provide ethical direction, address scope of practice, and inspire commitment.
  • Program Goals - the desired result of the program.

Program Objectives

  • Program Objectives - the specific methods used to attain the goals of the program. If these are not defined, the athlete may never reach her goals.

Strength and Conditioning Performance Team

  • A team of professionals may be established to meet specific needs and program objectives. Every organization will not look the same in structure.
  • Example duties and roles on the strength and conditioning performance team include rehabilitation and reconditioning, nutrition, sports medicine and exercise and sports team faculty; team coaches.
  • The Director of Strength and Conditioning serves as both a practitioner and administrator. This person is responsible for making sure the staff is qualified and assessed regularly as well as keeps up with the administration and media.
  • Strength and conditioning staff should hold a certification from an independently accredited organization like the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification.
  • Continuing education is important and is often questioned during litigation. CPR and AED certifications should be maintained for this purpose as well as the programs goals and objectives.

Legal and Ethical Issues

  • Risk Management - the use of strategies aimed at decreasing the legal liability exposure. Typically done through controlling the risk of injury through athletic participation.
  • Informed Consent - describing a process and inherent risks to a participant. The participant is allowed to decide whether or not they desire to participate.
  • Liability - a legal responsibility, duty or obligation.
  • Standard of Care - what a reasonable person with good judgement would do under the same circumstances.
  • Negligence - failure to act as a reasonable person with good judgement. Includes duty, breach of duty, proximate cause and damages.
  • Duty - responsibility to act.
  • Breach of Duty - failure to fulfill responsibility to act with appropriate care.
  • Proximate Cause - an event that is adequately related enough to an injury that a court deems it responsible for that injury.
  • Damages - physical or economic injury.
  • Assumption of Risk - knowing that participating in an event is inherently risky and deciding to participate anyway.
  • An athlete should be screened before being allowed to participate in sport. A signed statement that this has occurred is required. It is not the strength and conditioning professionals scope of practice so the sports medicine staff should monitor this.
  • Scope of Practice - procedures, actions and processes permitted under the licensing and parameters of a professional.
  • Criteria should be established for who is allowed to use the facility in an attempt to target a training population. Other individuals and groups may request access to use the facility. There should be a prearranged schedule that accounts for this.
  • Statute of Limitations - the timeline in which individuals may file a lawsuit. Varies from state to state and around the world. Notes the importance of keeping records.
  • Because of the risk for injury, strength and conditioning professionals should carry liability insurance.
  • Product Liability - the legal responsibility of the person who manufactures or sells a product if a person is injured or damaged as a result of its use. Professionals may be named as codefendants is the use of these products so it is important to understand how they can be held liable. If the product is changed or used inappropriately, this may be the case.
  • Athletes may be required to sign disciplinary paperwork acknowledging that they will follow the rules and guidelines of using the facility.
  • Strength and conditioning professionals need to be aware of banned drugs and substances as they are often approached for advice and inappropriate use can result in athletes being banned from participation.

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Staff Policies and Activities

  • Each facility is unique and may require its own set of policies and procedures so this section of the chapter only serves as a reference.
  • Typically an orientation meeting is held at the beginning of each year to be sure that all are aware of the program guidelines as well as the rules and hours of the facility.
  • Record keeping and documentation are an essential part of managing and monitoring facilities. Facilities should be HIPAA compliant, not releasing an individual's healthcare information without written consent.
  • Credentials, clearances, logs and guidelines should be kept and managed in the facility.
  • A code of ethics may be established and adhered to. The NSCA has it's own code of ethics.
  • A qualified professional should instruct and supervise athletes in safe and effective strength and conditioning techniques.
  • Clear communication should be established.
  • There may be need for the use of spotters and the education in spotting technique and procedure.
  • Professional to participant ratios are critically important. 1:10 in junior high schools. 1:15 in high school. 1:20 in colleges. Lower strength coach to participant ratios have actually been found to result in greater strength gains.
  • Risk of injury cannot be completely eliminated but, it can be mitigated.
  • Professionals should be familiar with each exercise on an athlete's workout sheet or card and alterations to this should be approved, and documented. It may be advisable to have the last set of a foundational exercise supervised by a staff member to make sure it is executed correctly.

Facility Administration

  • Facility rules and guidelines are important because they tell individuals to act in different situations.
  • Team priority often depends on schedule and sport season. Offseason teams may need to compromise.

Emergency Planning and Response

  • Life safety is always the priority when responding in emergency situation. Planning and response in emergency should be written.
  • Emergency Action Plan - the written document that spells out the proper procedure for caring for injuries. Everyone must know this. Components include EMS activation procedures, names and phone numbers of those to contact, the address of the facility, location of the phone, exit location, ambulance access, emergency supply location, and plan of action in case of catastrophic events like fire, tornadoes and terrorist attacks.
  • CPR policy and procedure should be reviewed at least quarterly.
  • Each individual may have a specific defined role in case of emergency such as calling 911, activating an alarm and documenting the incident.

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Steven Mack is founder and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at the private training studio, Simple Solutions Fitness. He consults for Stronger by Science, a leader in fitness research dissemination, and is a former Mizzou football walk-on. Steven dedicates his professional life to helping people through his writing, speaking, and role as a personal trainer.