Swimming Pool Safety

Published: 24 Feb 2020

A leisure group is facing prosecution after a three-year-old boy drowned in one of its swimming pools.

The tragic death of three year old Rocco Wright occurred in April of 2018

Rocco was due to have a swimming lesson along with his father and sister which had been cancelled. During the short time spent at poolside with his father and sister, Rocco disappeared.

Initially Rocco’s father thought that his son was hiding, playing games as children do, subsequently realising that this was not the case. Panic ensued and Rocco was spotted on the pool floor by his father. It was understood by the jury at the inquest that he had been under the 1.2m water for more than 2 minutes.

The pool was under the supervision of 1 lifeguard who had less than 3 months experience.

The business was accused of making cuts to the lifeguard budgets for the pool and has come under fire for a lack of pool monitoring provisions which potentially could have saved Rocco’s life.

Managing people safety within swimming pools should be of top priority when it comes to operating this kind of facility. Ways of keeping swimmers safe can be achieved by some of the following ways;

  • Employing lifeguards
  • Installation of CCTV
  • Restricting pool opening times
  • Restricting bather loads
  • Risk assessment
  • Staff training

Effective pool monitoring requires a high level of vigilance. Duty spells should be in place to ensure that lifeguards do not become fatigued or lose concentration during their shift. With this in mind, there is no set legal limit for poolside monitoring.  Consideration to pool design features that can affect poolside monitoring duty spells should be sought. Factors to be considered are vision, hearing and concentration, these are likely to be affected due to some of the following reasons;

  • activities taking place in the pool;
  • distractions from poolside activities, for example radios, ball games and similar activities.
  • inappropriate illumination;
  • pool occupancy;
  • problems of glare and reflection;
  • inadequate ventilation system;
  • poor acoustics;
  • extreme temperatures or excessively high humidity, or hot sun in open pools and solar gain.

Every business/ employer is obligated to manage the health, safety and well being of its employees and any other person that are not in their employment, as stated in section 3 of the act; - “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.” (Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974)

The cause of Rocco’s death has been declared as accidental. The Club now faces prosecution for breaches of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

If you need advice on swimming pool safety management please get in touch.