Magazine article Dance Teacher

Safety First

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Safety First

Article excerpt

Seven ways to hazard-proof your studio BY KRISTIN LEWIS

As a studio owner, you know the importance of maintaining a safe haven for your staff members and students. But with increasing litigiousness and the bevy of injury risks unique to dance, it's now more important than ever for a quick safety refresher. Here are some expert-recommended ways to protect yourself-and your business.

1 Prevent slips, trips and falls. According to J. Terrence Grisim, president of Safety Management Consultants in Elmhurst, Illinois, one of the biggest issues for any business is what he calls "slips, trips and falls." Loose threads in carpeting, slippery throw rugs, slick spots, broken tiles and ripples can cause these accidents. Keep all floors throughout your facility in good repair and clean up spills right away. It's also important to minimize clutter, which presents a fire and tripping hazard. "You can't have too much storage," says Sheryl Dowling, owner of The Dance Club in Orem, Utah, whose architect included several spacious closets in the building design. Store costumes, props, sets, supplies and boxes away from hallways and studios. If you don't have enough space, rent a storage unit.

2 Be mindful of hanging objects and lighting. Grisim cautions against hanging mirrors within view of stairs or steps, as the reflection can be disorienting. Also, when hanging mirrors or framed artwork along walls, be careful that you don't place them where they can be easily knocked down and shattered. Place lighting fixtures in areas that aren't well lit, and use window treatments to control natural lighting. Regularly inspect wall-mounted and portable barres, and replace them immediately if they are splintered, rickety or broken.

3 Keep traffic and student wandering under control. Most studios have two types of traffic: pedestrian and automotive. "You can have serious traffic issues with kids entering and exiting the building," says Dowling. When she moved into her 13,000-square-foot facility last year, she created a pick-up/drop-off zone to keep kids from dodging between cars in the parking lot. It's also important that no one park in the zone and that students wait for their ride to pull up to the curb before stepping off the sidewalk. In addition to the large front viewing window at her studio, Dowling installed security cameras that feed into the main office to keep a better watch on students as they come and go. And to keep students nearby between classes, she offers comfortable spaces where they can hang out, eat and do homework, including a snack bar (called The Ballet Bar) that sells nutritious food and has an outdoor patio with tables and umbrellas.

4 Provide a sanitary space. This may be common sense, but don't forget to clean barres, floors and rest rooms daily to minimize the spread of germs. …

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