FEC Safety Assignment: “Inspect Thyself”

Writing FEC safety articles every month is demanding, especially if your schedule very demanding.  However, finding topics to write about is easy.  Over the past 7 ½ years I’ve inspected over 1,000 family entertainment centers nationwide.  My collection of interesting photos is vast and the kinds of safety problems are interesting, although at times scary.  Some of the things I find, I should not be finding.

So rather than bore with the typical safety related topic, I’m going to give all the readers a field assignment.  I know for a fact, because I hear it all of the time that your FEC is safe and finding a few discrepancies would be difficult.  So with that thought in mind, here is your assignment.

The next time you go to the grocery store, Wal Mart, Office Depot, Lowes, McDonald’s, the quick mart for gas, take your children to school, dry cleaners, car wash, hardware store, theater, etc., perform a simple safety inspection and see how these business stack up against your FEC.  Look them over with a very critical eye for safety and aesthetics.  Your mission is to find as many safety hazards with the business as possible.

It’s simple.  Here are questions to be asking yourself:

1. When you enter the parking lot is there adequate lighting and directional signage?

2. Are the parking spaces well marked including the handicapped spaces?

3. Is the pavement well maintained to prevent trips and falls?

4. Upon entering the business are floors well maintained and dry not causing any slip, trip or fall hazards

5. Are any sharp edges, broken glass or objects sticking out causing a laceration hazard?

6. Are the fire extinguishers are fully charges and safety pin is in place?

7. Are the lighted exit signs, in fact lighted?

8. If you can easily reach them, press the test button on the emergency light pack to see if it lights? This drives my wife nuts, I’m always lighting these thing up.

9. Are the trash receptacles overflowing?

10. Are there any dimly lit areas?

11. If electrical outlets and wall switches are visible, do they look to be in good condition, i.e.; covers in place, cords not frayed, etc.

12. If you use the restroom, is it clean, are the floors dry, are the mirrors in good condition, the stall doors hanging correctly, etc?

Basically look the business over from top to bottom and ask yourself, is this business safe enough to bring my family to? And if you do find something; let the manager know about it.

Now here is the most difficult part of the assignment.  Inspect your FEC with the same critical eye for detail.  Everyone’s child is the most beautiful thing in the world, even if it has three ears and wart on its nose.  If you’re honest with yourself and your FEC, you will only improve the quality and beauty of it.  And the best side product is that it may increase your business.

You don’t have to be an OSHA or building inspector to perform this task.  If you are a practical person with common sense you will do an excellent job.  Many of us do this for a living and have years of training and experience.  If you do decide to try this, I would be interested to hear about your experience.  It might make a good follow up article.

If you would like a little help with the assignment send me an email at kvondriska@essentialsp.com and I’ll send you a copy of the checklist I use when I perform an FEC inspection.

Accident Investigation Planning – The next step

Accidents happen.  Sooner or later an accident will happen at your Family Entertainment Center or Bowling Center.  It may be a minor trip & fall or laceration.  It may be a more serious accident that requires the visitor to be transported to the hospital.  It may not involve a visitor or employee, such as a fire in the middle of the night.  Whatever the accident, it will have to be investigated.  Below is a simple outline for an FEC Accident Investigation Plan.

In the event of an accident

1. The owner or a supervisor must be notified immediately.  If you are the injured employee and can not, then a co-worker must do so.

2. The owner or supervisor will notify outside agencies or call 911. If there is no supervisor available then find a safety committee member and they will make the appropriate notifications.

3. The owner or supervisor and a designated safety committee member will conduct the investigation.

4. All accident investigators receive should receive a minimum of four hours of accident investigation training.

5. All accident investigation reports go to the owner with copies going to the supervisor and the safety committee.

6. All accident investigation will begin as soon as the injured employee has been taken care of and the supervisor has determined that the accident scene is safe to enter.

7. An accident investigation kit should be located in a convenient location.

Accident Investigation Procedures

Once the accident scene has been secured to preserve the evidence, all accident investigations will be conducted in accordance with the following procedures.

1. Gathering Information and Analyzing Facts: Pictures, video, and or sketches of the scene, that may have valuable information, will be conducted.

2. Analyzing Facts: All of the gathered information will be analyzed, symptoms identified, and root causes documented.

3. An Accident Investigation Report will be written: Each report will include the following:

Section 1: Background / Introduction

Section 2: Description of Accident

Section 3: Findings

Section 4: Recommendations

Section 5: Summary

4. Taking Corrective Action: The owner, supervisor, and/or safety committee will review each accident investigation and take appropriate corrective action to prevent a repeat of that accident.

5. Follow Up: The safety committee will conduct a follow up evaluation of the corrective action to ensure that the causes for the accident have been properly addressed.

6. Critical Review: Once each year, the safety committee will conduct a critical review of the entire accident investigation program and make recommendations for changes that will improve the effectiveness of these investigations.

If you have any questions regarding Accident Investigation Planning, you can contact me at kvondriska@essentialsp.com.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Safety Committees

Safety Committees

Regardless of the size of your FEC, a properly organized and managed safety committee is a valuable tool for use in preventing accidents. Because of its adaptability, the safely committee is described in more detail below. Some or all the functions described may be performed differently and should be customized to the size of your FEC.

What is a Safety Committee?

A safety committee is a group of employees appointed to aid and advise management on matters of worker and patron safety. It is important that the owner or a member of management participate in the organization of the Safety Meetings.

A chairman of the committee should be chosen and then hold regular monthly meetings at which recommendations, accidents, records, and program plans are discussed. The committee should make monthly inspections on selected areas paying special attention to the safety committee aims chosen for that month.

Why a Safety Committee?

A safety committee does not take away supervisors’ responsibility for safety and health, but it does help them in their constant effort to prevent injuries and illness.  The on-the-job experience of the committee members is available in determining hazardous conditions and methods of work, suggesting corrective measures and obtaining cooperation of all personnel.  By observing, thinking, and discussing, the committee provides the stimulation and suggestions necessary to maintain safe and healthy environment for patrons and employees alike.

What Does the Safety Committee Do?

The successful safety committee plans activities that are guided by the loss control program. The activities are determined by the size of the committee and the policies set by the group.

It is advisable to establish definite policies at the time the committee is organized. These policies should include some or all of the following items:

1.   Establish procedures for handling committee suggestions and recommendations
2. Conduct regularly scheduled meetings to discuss accident prevention methods, safety promotion, items noted on an inspection, injury records, and other pertinent subjects.
3. Conduct a monthly inspection of selected areas of the establishment to discover accident sources and hazards.
4.   Investigate accidents for means of preventing reoccurrence
5.   Provide information in regards to safe working methods and practices
6.  Recommend changes or additions to protective equipment or devices to eliminate hazards.
7.   Develop or revise practices and rules to comply with current safety and health needs
8.   Promote safety and first aid training for committee members and workers.
9.   Participate in advertising and selling safety and health to the workers
10. Keep records of minutes of meetings.

SterlingRisk is ranked as one of the top 50 Privately Held Insurance Brokerages in the United States. We help our clients reduce risk and spend less with our unique Risk Profile System®. By using these tools, on average, we have saved our clients 25% on their overall insurance costs. To see how we can help you create a safer, more successful family entertainment center, reach out to one of our insurance professionals today by contacting us here or calling toll free at (800) 767-7837.

Common Sense – Your best weapon to improve Inflatable Safety

A little Common Sense Goes a Long Way

It seems that more and more of my inspections involve inflatable bouncers.  Most of my inspections go very well with only minor discrepancies found.  However, sometimes I find things I shouldn’t find.  For example, holes large enough to pass my fist through and on occasion my foot.  Torn safety netting with holes large enough that an adult could pass through them are not acceptable.  Not enough pressure in the unit making is sag or become distorted enough that it’s difficult to walk or crawl through.  Fortunately, I don’t find many of this type of problem.  But I do find problems such as these and try to impress upon the operator that immediate and drastic improvements are required to make their facility safe to operate.


Listed below are 12 ideas to make your inflatable bouncers safe to operate. 

1. Adults playing on an inflatable with children present or near by doesn’t work and children will get injured. Adults playing on inflatable equipment should do so only with other adults. It’s fun if done safely.

2. Children playing on an inflatable unsupervised will get injured. It’s the FEC’s responsibility for the safety of their patrons.

3. Make sure you have one attendant per inflatable during operation. Don’t skimp to try and save a buck, it’s not worth it.

4. Make sure you have the proper padding at all egress points.

5. Make sure the inflatable units are properly secured to the floor. Just because it’s indoor, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be secured.

6. Make sure you maintain the inflatable in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Make sure you perform an in-depth inspection of your inflatable bouncers every day prior to opening. This means you or your trained staff must crawl, walk or jump through the unit daily. Take your time, be thorough and use a flashlight to help find those hard to see problems. You can never spend too much time inspecting your equipment.

8. Make sure your attendants are properly trained.

9. Make sure all documentation for maintenance inspections; attendant training; state, local and inflatable insurance inspections; incident reports; are kept readily available and up to date.

10. Operating without state and local permits will get you a fine or jail time or both.

11. How do you find out about permitting? It’s easy, call or go online to your local and state government sites and you will find out all you need to know about permitting. It’s that easy.

12. Make sure you have safety rules and user instructions posted in prominent locations. This should be a combination of signage, verbal and pre-play video. This is all easy to do.

The most important tool you have at your disposal is Common Sense! Look over your facility everyday prior to – during- and after parties or open jump sessions.  If something doesn’t look right, examine it and correct it ASAP.  If you have any questions regarding inflatable safety or would like information on the SterlingRisk/Family Entertainment Safety Association insurance program, please visit www.insuremyfec.com and Ask Matt.

SterlingRisk is ranked as one of the top 50 Privately Held Insurance Brokerages in the United States. We help our clients reduce risk and spend less with our unique Risk Profile System®. By using these tools, on average, we have saved our clients 25% on their overall insurance costs. To see how we can help you create a safer, more successful family entertainment center and help you avoid owners liability, reach out to one of our insurance professionals today by contacting us here or calling toll free at (800) 767-7837.

Done in a Flash – Thunderstorms and Lightning

Spring is almost here and before you know it summer will be upon us and in most parts of the country that means “thunder storms.”    For many FEC’s with outdoor activities it means having a plan in place to deal with severe weather.  Heavy rain, flash flooding, high wind, hail, and lightning are all by products of severe whether. And if you are located along the south east coastal areas or the mid west, you are susceptible to hurricanes and tornados.  However, this article will deal with the most common severe weather problem, thunderstorms.

Lightning strikes the ground somewhere in the U.S.nearly every day of the year.  Thunderstorms and lightning occur most commonly in moist warm climates.  Data from the National Lightning Detection Network shows that over the continental U.S.an average of 20,000,000 cloud-to-ground flashes occur every year. Around the world, lightning strikes the ground about 100 times each second, or 8 million times a day.

According to NOAA, an average of 67 people are killed by lightning each year and about 300 are injured. Only flash floods and river floods cause more weather-related deaths.

Following are a few best practices to consider: 

-Monitor the weather conditions and forecast for the next day of operation. In addition, an inexpensive portable weather radio is recommended for obtaining current storm data.

-Suspension and resumption of operations should be well planned out and part of the staff training procedures.

-Patrons and employees should take shelter when lighting is seen or thunder is heard. Wait a minimum of 30 minutes from the last observed lightning or thunder before resuming operations. Be extra cautious during this phase as the storm may not be over. Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from a thunderstorm.

-If you are outside during an electrical storm and you begin to feel your hair standing on end, and/or hear a crackling noise, you may be in the lightning’s electric field. Immediately remove metal objects, car keys, backpacks, even baseball caps and place your feet together, duck your head, and crouch down low in baseball catcher’s stance with hands on knees.

-People who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to handle. Apply first aid immediately if you are qualified to do so. Get emergency help promptly by calling 911 or the local emergency service number.

Lightning Safety Tips

1. The 30/30 Rule – If lightning precedes thunder by less than 30 seconds, then the storm is close and you need to take cover. After the storm, wait at least 30 minutes before leaving shelter and resuming outside activities.

2. Seek shelter in an enclosed building if possible. Open shelters, like those at campsites and picnic areas provide very little protection. Avoid small wooden or metal sheds. If a building is not available, get in a vehicle with a metal roof and close all windows and doors.

3. Stay away from water. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. Electrical current can easily transmit pass through water including lakes, ponds, rivers and standing water such as puddles.

4. Do not wait for rain to take shelter. Take shelter as soon as lighting is seen or thunder is heard.

5. Place yourself at the lowest point possible. Lightning often strikes tall objects first. If no sturdy shelter is available, crouch as low as possible with feet together and place hands over ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder. Keep your distance from other people, allowing 15 feet between.

6. Stay away from trees and tall metal poles. Keep twice as far from a tree as it is tall to avoid current traveling through the ground.

7. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or other weather sources to keep up with changing weather conditions.

8. Lightning can enter a building directly, through the ground, or through pipes or wires that extend outside.

9. Stay away from windows and doors.

10. Stay off phones and avoid touching electrical equipment and plumbing.

Protect property.  Typical store bought surge protectors will not protect electrical equipment from a direct lightning strike.  Unplug all valuable electronics as soon as you hear thunder.

SterlingRisk is ranked as one of the top 50 Privately Held Insurance Brokerages in the United States. We help our clients reduce risk and spend less with our unique Risk Profile System®. By using these tools, on average, we have saved our clients 25% on their overall insurance costs. To see how we can help you create a safer, more successful family entertainment center, reach out to one of our insurance professionals today by contacting us here or calling toll free at (800) 767-7837.