As the occurrence of dance teachers being sued increases, it is important for us to remember that all organisations have a duty of care to ensure that employees and students remain safe at all times. It is a studio owner’s moral, legal and financial obligation to do a checklist of possible hazards and safety issues around the studio and to remedy any problems.
Prevent any slips, trips or fallsAny liquid should be removed from the floor surface immediately. Loose thread in carpeted areas should be snipped. Broken tiles or uneven floor surfaces should be fixed as soon as possible with a sign put over the offending area until that happens. Minimise clutter and remove anything that can be tripped over.
Hanging objects and lightingLow hanging light fixtures, signs and other features that come within a few feet of the height of an average person are a no-no. Make sure that hanging pictures and mirrors are securely fixed to the wall.
Traffic areasPick up/drop off areas outside the studio can be quite dangerous. Some studio owner’s create separate pick up and drop off areas for this reason. It also may be necessary to install security cameras outside the studio as well as in foyer/reception areas to monitor any unwanted visitors.
Provide a clean studioThis may sound like a very basic requirement but it necessitates a lot more attention to detail than one would think. Ballet barres, floors and toilets should be cleaned daily to minimise the spread of germs. Don’t forget to restock toilet paper and soap too. The domestic ‘hands free’ soap dispensers which are available in supermarkets are a great idea.
Emergency Action PlanCreate an evacuation plan and post a diagram of it in every room of your studio. Have a practice drill every now and then and make sure it is done on different days so all your staff will be confident to participate. Make sure exit signs are clearly marked and prepare for all reasons you may have to evacuate (fire, gas leaks, natural disasters etc). It is good to have at least a couple (if not all) staff members with first aid certificates.
Educate your staff and studentsYou should have a section on safety in your Staff Handbook. Safety procedures should be visible to all staff on duty also. If you have student handbooks or newsletters, safety should feature in these every now and then so that parents and students are aware of requirements and procedures.
If everyone is working toward a safe environment for your studio hopefully it will be a happy one too. Bye for now,