Toddler death puts pool and jacuzzi safety under spotlight

Published: 2 May 2017

Now that the warmer weather is on its way, the use of swimming pools and Jacuzzi's are on the rise.

Following the recent inquest into the drowning of a 3 year old in a jacuzzi in Ireland, we ask, how safe is your swimming pool? Do you know what precautions you need take to keep guests safe?

An inquest has heard how a three year old boy stepped into a bubbling jacuzzi and disappeared under the water at a hotel kids club on 13 July 2015. CCTV footage  revealed the final movements of Ronan Kennedy, at the Quality Hotel in Youghal, Co Cork. The child’s parents, Bridget and John Kennedy, called on the Government to introduce regulations for swimming pools immediately. The inquest heard that pools in Ireland are currently unregulated with regard to safety.

Cases of drownings within hotel swimming pools are not unheard of. As previously reported, in 2013, two guests (both able  swimmers) drowned in an unusual shaped pool at Down Hall Country House hotel, Essex. The hotel was fined £200,000 over “a culture of systemic health and safety breaches” which included the failure to identify health and safety hazards and allowing persons to use the pool without sufficient regard to risk assessments.

The lack of health and safety management within the hotel was evident and ultimately transcended into poor pool safety supervision. The court heard that although there was a signing in procedure for the pool door access code, it wasn’t always enforced when reception was busy. There was CCTV, but the monitor was kept in a cupboard with the door normally closed and it wasn’t working at the time.

The repercussions of these fatalities resulted in a massive drop in occupancy rates and reduced profitability.

These fatalities could have been prevented by the hotels in question having the following criteria in place:

  1. A health and safety policy which clearly identified health and safety related roles within the organisation.
  2. Having and following a risk assessment which identified all health and safety hazards related to the use of the pool.
  3. A pool side supervision assessment based on pool safety guidance would need to be carried out to establish the levels of supervision required. Factors such as size/design of pool, activities conducted in pool and user profile of pool would need to be taken into account.


If you operate a swimming pool on your premises, contact CSC today so we can help you with putting these procedures in place.