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Risk Management

Closing procedures: An important part of daily operations

Protect your participants, staff, and facility

It is 10:15pm on a Friday night. The recreation facility closed at 10pm. The Facility Supervisor on duty last checked the locker rooms at approximately 9:45pm. All seemed normal. The facility staff are in a hurry and ready to start their planned Friday night activities. They neglect to check the locker rooms after closing, adopting the attitude that there is little reason to walk downstairs to check this area. The Facility Supervisor and Facility Assistants sign out and exit the facility. Little to their knowledge, a participant had walked into the men’s locker at 9:55pm, placed paper towels over the drains, and turned on all ten showers. As you can imagine, water damage to the facility would be quite extensive by the time facility staff arrive next morning.

Another scenario: It is five minutes prior to closing and the facility staff are in a hurry to leave. The Facility Supervisor decides to turn off the majority of lights. Two individuals are playing racquetball, and as the lights are switched off, the racquetball is hit hard against the wall, rebounds, and hits one of the participants in the eye, causing severe damage to the retina. (Why weren’t they wearing safety goggles?)

These two scenarios illustrate the importance of following through with established procedures at closing time. Closing procedures are designed to protect participants, staff, and the facility. They should be communicated to all facility staff. It is highly recommended to establish these procedures in written form (job description or list of duties). The professional staff member, graduate assistant or student supervisor responsible for the supervision of staff on duty is to be held accountable for all procedures. Protocol may also suggest that an experienced staff member or the facility manager shadow new staff during their first time closing.

Following are suggested closing procedures in relation to the safety of participants, the recreation facility and staff:


  • A closing announcement should be made at or after closing time. Staff should never make a closing announcement prior to the time listed within the hours of operation. Closing announcement: “The Recreation Center is now closed. Please cease all activity, return checked out equipment to the Equipment Checkout Area, and exit through the appropriate doors. Please note that the majority of lights will be going off within two minutes. Have a great night!”
  • Lights should NEVER be turned off prior to closing time! Turn off lights to the activity areas and locker rooms a minimum of two minutes after closing announcement is made. It is suggested to wait a minimum of two minutes in order to allow sufficient time for activity to cease. Emergency lights will provide sufficient lighting so that participants may exit the facility in a safe manner. In certain areas (e.g., locker rooms), it may also be protocol to quickly flick lights on and off prior to closing to remind participants the facility will be closing within 10-15 minutes. Please ensure that these lights are of the type that come back on right away.

Recreation facility

  • Lock all entry doors five to ten minutes prior to closing.
  • Check all doors leading to the exterior of the facility prior to leaving the facility to ensure they are secured and locked.
  • Thoroughly check ALL activity areas and support areas within facility after closing to ensure all participants have left the facility. Within locker room and restroom areas, it is highly suggested to check each shower stall and restroom stall.
  • Check to ensure all showers and water faucets have been turned off.
  • Check for maintenance problems (water fountain leaking, water leaks from roof, etc.).
  • Double check main entry doors to ensure they are secure and locked as you are exiting facility.
  • Make an exterior round around the facility after all staff has left to ensure all exterior doors have been secured and shut. If you cannot enter the facility, no one else can.


  • Remote site closings: Please ensure there is two-way radio contact with either the Public Safety department on campus or the primary recreational facility.
  • Exterior round around facility: Suggested that two staff members walk around facility together.
  • Extra caution should be made to ensure there is never a situation where the only staff member closing is a female.

The two scenarios described earlier are fictional but illustrate the importance of closing procedures. However, I, as a student worker, encountered the situation 5 minutes prior to closing where paper towels were placed over the drains of the shower area with all the showers turned on. Facility security and closing procedures should not be taken lightly. A little time spent following closing protocol could save a lot of time and anguish in the future. Safeguards should be made to ensure that staff are following protocol and not taking shortcuts. All instances where closing protocol is not followed should be documented and a personnel behavioral violation report should be completed as necessary. It is for the benefit of the staff, facility and participants.


This article originally appeared in Vol. 1 #5 of "Risk Management Newsletter for Campus Recreation," published by Ian McGregor & Associates.

McGregor & Associates
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