A second year mechanical engineering student was injured at the Old Mutual Sports Hall (OMSH) gym about a week ago after using a machine that was not marked to indicate that it was broken. She now suffers serious injuries and has to wear a back brace, and is battling to walk.
The upset and frustrated student Liezl Stander has to now receive physiotherapy so that ligaments in her lower back will heal.
Her complaint with OMSH is that there was no sign to indicate the machine was unusable. “If I knew it was broken then I wouldn’t have used it,” she said.
She left the gym without reporting the injury because she did not know who to complain to.
Since then she has had trouble walking and has to take up to six painkillers a day. She was prescribed physiotherapy and a lot of rest. “I mustn’t [sic] be walking actually, but I have to, because of class and stuff,” she said.
Gym facilities manager of the OMSH Tebogo Rabothata, was regretful about Stander’s situation, when informed.
“As soon as she realised she was injured, she should have consulted one of the gym attendants to try and stabilise the injury,” he said.
I didn’t even know a person was injured at the gym. I didn’t get a report
According to Rabothata the gym attendants give him a daily report on the state of the gym. It serves to inform him of problems that need to be attended to, like broken equipment or injured students. Unfortunately, Stander left the gym without reporting her injury to anyone and Rabothata was unable to address the situation.
“I didn’t even know a person was injured at the gym. I didn’t get a report,” he said this week.
There are set procedures to tend to injuries, Rabothata said. There is a first-aid kit in the gym. If a person is injured gym attendants are on duty to help stabilise the injury. Injuries that cannot be tended to are referred to a medical practitioner, he explained.
Most Witsies who were approached, were unaware of the procedures to follow in the case of an injury. Thato Lengana, 4th year BAccSci, said she did not know who to report an injury to.
“I didn’t even know you can report it to anyone. I’d probably ask a person who’s in the gym with me, either a friend or another person using the equipment.”
Rabothata admitted that there were no signs in the gym to indicate these procedures.
If you don’t know how to use free weights, you shouldn’t be using them. That has to be taught.
Rabothata also confirmed that equipment was regularly maintained. It is checked and fixed every fortnight by a technician. If gym attendants find that equipment is broken, the technician is contacted promptly for it to be fixed. He also said that students were likely to get injured if they didn’t know how to use equipment properly.
A 3rd year BAccSci, Sibani Nzimande said: “There are clear instructions on machines to indicate how to use equipment. If you don’t know how to use free weights, you shouldn’t be using them. That has to be taught. There isn’t someone at the gym to teach you.”
Nzimande also said that he had not experienced problems at the gym and if equipment was broken, it was clearly marked, “there’s always red tape around it”.
Rabothata reiterated: “I am here for the students; I render a service to them… It won’t be nice if members stopped coming to the gym because they felt we are not looking after them. We are really trying to give them the best service.”
Stander’s doctor could not tell her how long it would take for her back to heal.