7 leisure centre hygiene issues and what operators can do
Leisure centre hygiene can be a sticky issue…
Every year it seems that at least one leisure centre or community gym comes under media scrutiny thanks to leisure centre hygiene concerns – with reports about Bracknell in 2019, Slough in 2022, White Oak in Swanley in 2023 … it seems to be a recurring problem.
What are the key leisure centre hygiene issues that most frequently get facility owners and operators into dirty water?
- Staff issues – shortages, frequent changes of staff at FM and contract cleaning firms, unsupervised night working making checks and ineffective monitoring are often blamed.
- Patchy inventory management – infrequent checks can mean running out of key products at inconvenient times, so cleaners find the janitorial cupboard is bare.
- Supply accessibility – increased vigilance for public safety can mean that misplaced keys to locked storage becomes an issue, especially with frequent resource changes at agencies.
- Washroom issues – such as empty towel and soap dispensers, with no spares of the right product on hand, due to a purchasing issue or simply the wrong choice of dispenser.
- Customer disgust – instead of feeling the centre is well run, clean and safe they face unattractive, unappealing washrooms with paper or toilet roll cores on floor, broken dispensers, and unpleasant odours.
- Damaged equipment – when buyers choose or cleaners use the wrong chemical product for the wrong purpose, it can corrode expensive gym equipment such as spin bikes, or damage floors and surfaces leaving things looking and feeling unsafe, unclean, and unappealing.
- Cross-contamination – when shared gym and leisure centre equipment is not cleaned frequently enough it can quickly become hazardous.
The cost of leisure centre cleanliness failures
These kinds of leisure centre cleanliness challenges can lead to all sorts of unpleasant outcomes.
They range from simply a nasty smell to ruining your relationship with the local community and risk some grimy local (or even national) media attention.
If things persist or escalate you could start to see a real impact on the bottom line thanks to cancelled memberships and regular club events, or even an embarrassing Improvement Notice, if the local environmental health officer gets a whiff of the problem.
Direct safety risks can arise – if you aren’t using the right chemicals to clean grease and body fat deposits from pool-sides and changing room floors, a barefoot slip for a visitor is almost inevitable. That creates immediate potential legal or insurance claim implications.
The repercussions of careless storage, management or use of hazardous chemicals are nastier still. They must be locked away, carefully inventoried, and used with appropriate precautions. No visitor should wander into an area that should be closed off due to limescale removal, for example.
Gyms and leisure centres are expensive places – and the last thing you want is inadequate hygiene dirtying your reputation or bank balance. Customer experience is everything these days – not just for commercial businesses, but even for councils who need to support citizen experiences.
Keeping leisure centres clean
What steps can gym and leisure facilities managers take?
- Spot checks on cleaning staff – even if that means assigning some off hours duties
- Clear procedures and checklists – personalised to your facility, not simply generic
- Increase frequency of deep clean routines – or run a constant rotating schedule
- Revisit your cleaning audit procedure – who, when, and what they should be tracking
- Mystery shoppers – engage mystery shopper services to conduct random visits
- Feedback processes – encourage members and visitors to spot and report issues in real time
- Regular training is essential, to keep staff up to date with practices
- Buy appropriate specialist chemicals and use the right product for the right purpose
- Never skimp and use domestic chemicals if you hope for good results – and to get safety data
- Maintain a folder of all up to date Safety Data Sheets with which to compile Risk Assessments – these are essential to inform medics in the case of accidental exposure
- Match your washroom dispenser capacity and inventory of refills to actual traffic and usage, to avoid queues and wasted staff time for refill trips
- Keep an eye on waste and unnecessary impact on the environment – bad practices can often be spotted and potentially reported by the local community
- Consider providing client access to cleaning materials so they can wipe down exercise equipment themselves (careful with this though – check hazard rating of chemicals)
- Establish effective cleaning routines to reduce bacteria on exercise equipment – you may give users access to cleaning materials (once you have checked hazard ratings) so they can help wipe down
Your cleaning and hygiene supplier should be able to guide you further – that’s why it’s important to choose a supplier with experience of working in the leisure sector. They will be familiar with all the above issues – as we are! They should not only advise you on your choices, but support you with site visits, product demos, COSHH training for staff, and so on.
Contact Avanti today if you’d like to level up your leisure centre hygiene and cleanliness.