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Stepping up the game: safety & design challenges in sports & recreation facilities 
Stepping up the game: safety & design challenges in sports & recreation facilities

Whether frequented by professional athletes, budding enthusiasts or casual users, sports and recreation facilities, like gyms, sports halls and specialist training facilities, must ensure safety for their users, and minimising the risk of injury is of critical importance. 

Because injuries in these types of environments can be caused by myriad reasons, there are often many features in sports facilities that contribute to improved safety, and flooring is a key contributor to this goal. 

Obvious, yet critical-to-consider causes of injury are slips, trips and falls — the risk of which can be minimised by the correct specification of flooring across the facility, as well as appropriate cleaning and maintenance of the floor surface. 

Beyond slips and trips, hygiene, appropriate cushioning, clear navigation and accessibility are all key contributors to the improvement of safety in sports and recreation venues. 

Safety first: Preventing slips, trips & falls 

Often including swimming pools as well as steam rooms, saunas, and – of course – shower facilities, sports and recreation facilities feature many areas where slip resistance is critical.  

Wet areas like these present unique challenges when it comes to safety. Not only is the risk of slips and falls particularly high in these spaces due to the presence of water and moisture, but the floor must also be able to withstand the corrosive effects of being exposed to water. 

Typically, flooring in these areas should be positively textured to create a slip-resistance profile that aids in creating traction underfoot, leading to reduced risk slips. 

Polymer flooring systems that include quartz beads prove particularly useful in wet areas such as pool surrounds and changing rooms with showers, as they provide a textured finish.  

vebrospeed Quartz (Wet System), for example, is a fast-cure methyl methacrylate (MMA) multi-layer floor coating that not only features an anti-slip profile, but that is also capable of resisting damage associated with water cover, meaning that the system isn’t degraded or chipped away, maintaining its integrity over time.  

Safety considerations extend beyond slip resistance. Damage to the floor surface can result in cracks, chips or unevenness, which can cause trips, particularly in spaces where fast movement is likely, such as sports halls or gymnasium fitness studios. 

Different areas within a sports facility have distinct requirements when it comes to flooring durability and ensuring that fit-for-purpose flooring is chosen that meets the varied needs of each space is key.  

For example, the free-weights area of a gym or a busy main lobby with guests and employees coming in and out will require a much hardier floor surface than a lesser-traversed corridor or the staff room. 

It is important to select flooring materials that are specifically designed to withstand the demands of each space, ensuring long-term durability and minimising the risk of accidents due to damaged or uneven flooring. 

Because each polymer flooring technology brings different performance criteria to the table, Vebro Polymers’ epoxy, PU, MMA and liquid vinyl floor coating systems are rated according to the FeRFA Guide to the Specification of Resin Flooring, which helps folks to choose the most appropriate system for their service requirements. 

FeRFA is the UK’s leading trade association for the industrial and commercial resin flooring, screeding and surface preparation industries and is well established as the trusted voice of all things resin flooring in the UK. 

Cushioning the impact: Shock absorption matters 

Sports & leisure facilities are home to intensive activities like high-impact aerobics, team sports, gymnastics and martial arts. In each of these activities, a cushioned floor surface can act as a protective layer, absorbing impact forces and reducing the strain on the body’s joints and muscles.  

By providing a forgiving landing surface, PU liquid vinyl flooring that has a cushioned finish helps to mitigate the risk of injuries commonly associated with high-impact movements, falls and abrupt changes in direction. 

vebroflex Sport UV Bounce is a seamless, cushioned, flexible, polyurethane sports flooring system with a pigmented UV stable seal coat. The liquid-applied sports flooring system provides a cushioned effect underfoot and is available in a wide range of bright shades, as well as more subtle neutral tones. 

Finding your way: Navigation & zoning 

Navigating sports and recreation facilities can sometimes be a challenge, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the layout. Effective navigation and well-defined zoning play a crucial role in enhancing safety, optimising operations and creating a seamless user experience. 

Proper zoning is key to optimising the functionality of a sports facility. By dividing lobbies, corridors, open-plan spaces and even the gym floor itself into distinct zones, each with its designated purpose, facilities can streamline operations, manage traffic flow and enhance safety.  

For example, clearly marked walkways, free-weights areas, warm-up zones and equipment storage can prevent congestion and facilitate efficient space usage. 

Vebro Polymers’ systems are available in a wide variety of colours and finishes which can aid in creating a palette of colours across the facility that help with zoning in navigation. 

Our polyurethane, liquid vinyl and epoxy systems are available in an almost limitless range of RAL and BS 4800 solid shades, with the latter technology having a suite of 18 colours that are always in stock at our UK HQ, reducing lead times for our applicator network across the country. 

Clean & healthy: Prioritising hygiene 

Injuries can comprise damage to health, as well as damage to the body. The nature of sports and recreation venues is such that germs and bacteria could easily become a hazard to the health of visitors and staff if not addressed effectively. 

While cleaning and maintenance regimes are part and parcel of running a facility of this type, choosing appropriate flooring for each space across the building can help in preventing the build-up of dirt and bacteria. 

The seamless nature of resin flooring, for example, delivers a surface that is not only free from cracks and crevices where bacteria can build up, but is also easier to clean thoroughly than alternatives like tiles. 

This is particularly helpful in areas such as changing rooms, showers and toilets, as well as cafeterias and food-preparation spaces. 

Game, set match! 

It’s clear that by understanding the diverse challenges faced in sports and recreation venues, and implementing measures to minimise the risk of injuries, a safe and enjoyable experience for all can be ensured. 

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