In the spotlight - pool safety management

Published: 20 Sep 2016

Pool safety has made the headlines this summer with significant fines issues for breaches in Health and Safety law. In this article we review two recent prosecution case studies and provide practical advice on how to ensure that your swimming pool facility is kept safe.

In the most recent prosecution news St Edmunds School in Canterbury was fined for safety failings at a summer activity camp after a seven-year-old boy had to be given CPR after coming into difficulty during a swimming lesson. The court heard how the boy got into difficulties and struggled for over three minutes before becoming motionless in the water on 1 August 2014.

The lifeguards noticed he was in trouble and retrieved him. He regained consciousness after CPR but did develop pneumonitis as a result of the incident.

The Health and Safety Executive conducted the investigation and found that the lifeguards were not effectively managed and monitored to ensure that they were constantly vigilant. It was also discovered that two out of the three lifeguards did not hold a current, in date lifeguard qualification.

St Edmunds School Canterbury, of St Thomas Hill, Canterbury, pleaded guilty and was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9669.19.

In our second prosecution which was previously reported on the CSC portal, Down Hall Country House hotel, Essex, were fined £200,000 over “a culture of systemic health and safety breaches” which resulted in two guests drowning in its unusually-shaped pool in 2013.

The investigation into this case uncovered that a 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. In addition the risk assessment pertaining to pool safety management and supervision was not suitable and sufficient.

These fatalities and health and safety breaches could possibly have been prevented if the following criteria was 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 pools 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.
  4. Ensure that lifeguards hold a current and in date lifeguard qualification.
  5. Ensure that the lifeguard schedules are effectively managed to coincide with activities involving peak times, minors and vulnerable persons.

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