A treadmill safety key

Update, May 5: Peloton has recalled its Tread and Tread+ treadmills, according to the Consumer Product Safety Comission. On April 21, CR removed the Peloton Tread+ from our ratings


Peloton’s disclosure Thursday of a child’s death involving the company’s treadmill is a reminder of the dangers home exercise equipment can pose to children and adults alike.

Company CEO John Foley told customers in a letter posted on the company’s website about the “tragic accident,” and advised Peloton owners to “take care to review and follow safety warnings and instructions” that come with the company’s exercise equipment including the treadmill called Tread+.

Foley did not provide any details of the accident but did say that the company was aware of a “small handful of incidents involving the Tread+ where children have been hurt.”

Patty Davis, press secretary for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the government agency with oversight of consumer products including exercise equipment, told CR that the agency is “aware of the death and investigating it.”

“Though the spotlight today is on the Peloton Tread+, accidents can and do happen with any treadmill,” says John Galeotafiore, associate director of product testing at Consumer Reports. “These are big, serious pieces of equipment, with fast running belts and powerful motors. Kids and treadmills don’t mix, but the buttons, lights, and big displays appeal to them. And many people aren’t aware of the harm, not just to kids but also adults, that can occur when treadmills are positioned or used improperly.”

More on Treadmills

According to the CPSC, there were an estimated 22,500 treadmill injuries in 2019, around 2,000 of those involving children under 8 years old. Between 2018 and 2020, the agency received reports of 17 deaths related to the use of a treadmill.

To keep kids safe, Galeotafiore says one of the most important things you can do is make the treadmill inoperable when you aren’t using it. “Remove the safety key—the device that attaches to the console at one end and clips onto your clothing at the other—and store it away from the treadmill. Once the key is out, the belt will not move.”

In addition, follow these treadmill safety tips, whether you are using one at home or at the gym.

Give it plenty of space. Leave at least 2 feet of clearance on either side of a treadmill and 6 feet behind it to avoid falling into a wall or being wedged between the machine and a wall or a piece of furniture if you lose your balance.

Always use the safety key.  If you fall, it will pop out to stop the belt. This will prevent additional injury, such as friction burns.

Straddle the belt when you turn on the treadmill. This will keep you from getting knocked off your feet.

Never step off a moving treadmill. Let the belt come to a complete stop before dismounting.

Keep your head up. You’re more likely to lose your balance when you’re looking at your feet.

Maintain the machine. Lubricate it according to the manufacturer’s directions, tighten loose hardware (only using manual tools), and wipe up any sweat—especially on the hand grips and controls—after each use.

Editor’s Note: This article originally was published online Nov. 29, 2018, and appeared in the January 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. It has been updated to include information on the accident involving the Peloton Tread+.