Laura M. Miele, Ph.D., Sport, Fitness, and Recreation Expert
Case Synopsis: Plaintiff was a high school football player participating in weightlifting class. Plaintiffs’ injury occurred while attempting to determine his maximum capacity squatting with free weights over an exercise ball without safety stops set or spotters. While trying to determine the maximum weight for his squat, plaintiff lifted weight that exceeded his ability to safely handle. The weight forced him to the floor. Plaintiff was crushed and contorted, and his spine was broken.
Expert Analysis: It is a teacher’s duty to show reasonable care when teaching a class where it is foreseeable that a student may not lift properly and minimize the risk of injury. It is crucial that student spotters receive careful instruction on proper spotting techniques and that they undergo adequate and well supervised practice on those techniques.
It is critical to effectively manage risks within a weight training class. Spotters are necessary for safety. The skill level within a class varies; therefore, active supervision and communication is required when allowing students to lift free weights during a high school physical education class. All students should be taught how to properly lift and spot.