Swimming Pool Safety

Published: 8 Jun 2017

Over recent weeks the CSC team have been receiving a number of enquiries on swimming pool safety, and that golden question:

Do we need a lifeguard? 

Prior to explaining the reasons for our recommendations on this, I would like to emphasise that one of CSC’s primary values, is to provide our clients with practical, proportionate advice. As I am sure you can appreciate getting this balance right when it comes to Health and Safety can often be a difficult balancing act. Whilst we want to keep our advice and recommendations as simple and cost effective as possible, we also have to weigh this up against relevant guidance / legislation. Our advice is fundamentally based upon the HSE’s guidance (HSG179).  (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/hsg179.pdf) and made in the best interests of protecting your guests, and in the unfortunate event of an incident occurring, protecting yourself and your business.

So, when should you provide constant poolside supervision?

If ANY of the following apply then based on the HSE’s guidance, constant poolside supervision should be provided by a qualified lifeguard:

  1. If the pool water is deeper than 1.5M
  2. If the pool water area is greater than 170 m2
  3. If diving is allowed
  4. If there is pool features or equipment posing additional risk
  5. If there is abrupt changes in depth
  6. If access to the pool is not restricted. e.g to hotel guests, members
  7. If under 15’s are using the pool unaccompanied.
  8. If crowded conditions are likely to occur
  9. If food or alcohol is available to pool users


So, what if I do not require constant poolside supervision?

If you have determined that your pool does not require constant supervision then the following control measures should be considered:

  1. Controlling access – This includes monitoring / controlling number of bathers and controlling pool access, particularly if lone bathing is to be permitted.
  2. Emergency arrangements:
    • signs at the entrance, in the changing rooms and in the pool area indicating that the pool is not staffed and drawing attention to simple rules of use and safety;
    • signs in the pool area showing the depth of the water;
    • an alarm to summon help in an emergency and a notice giving instruction in its use;
    • suitable rescue equipment (poles, throwing ropes, buoyancy aids) available by the poolside, and clearly identifiable.
  3. Whenever the pool is in use, a member of staff will need to be designated as ‘on call’ to respond immediately to the alarm and deal with any emergency.  It is essential that such staff are trained in pool rescue, CPR techniques and first aid.


Other Swimming Pool Safety Advice:

In addition to poolside supervision, general health and safety checks also need to be considered. Pool and wet areas can provide hazards including drowning, exposure to chemicals, pathogenic bacteria, slip, trip and fall hazards and equipment safety issues.

The following should also be considered:

  • A clear written safety procedure. A written Pool Safety Operating Procedure (PSOP) consists of the Normal Operating Plan (NOP) and the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for the pool, changing facilities and associated plant and equipment.
    • The NOP should set out the way a pool operates on a daily basis. It should include details of the layout, equipment.
    • The EAP should give specific instructions on the action to be taken, by all staff, in the event of any emergency.
  • Access control and information for users: Access to the swimming pool must be controlled and can either be achieved by completion of a signing-in sheet at a manned reception area or a membership card.
    • Suitable access controls will enable safety advice to be provided to users. A signing in procedure will identify and control: Children under 16, non-swimmers from weak swimmers and people with medical conditions.
  • Bathing Loads – The number of bathers permitted to use the pool at any given time should be controlled and monitored.
  • Safety signage needs to be clearly displayed which must include: Rules for safe use of the pool, restriction in certain areas (e.g. plant room), no glassware on poolside, etc. Safety signage is intended to reinforce safety messages to indicate pool depth, slippery surfaces, instruction of use of facilities, First Aid location and fire exit routes.
  • Physical safety – Regular checks of the poolside must be conducted which must include floor tiles, hand rails and movable steps. Hair or entrapment hazards in the pool grill also need to be considered. Look out for sharp edges and slip, trip, fall hazards!
  • Pool plant and chemical safety – Due to the hazardous nature of the operation, all activities pertaining to the use of the plant room and handling of chemicals must be strictly monitored. Only authorised and trained members of staff should have access to the plant room. A site specific risk assessment must also be completed in this area with required PPE to also be made available. Keep doors to plant room / chemical store locked when not in use.
  • Water monitoring: Adequate cleaning and disinfection of the pool is key to controlling exposure of microorganisms to those using the pool. Most disinfectants can be harmful to bathers if incorrectly used. It is therefore important to check on a frequent basis the chemical levels in the pool. Ensure that the acceptable levels of free chlorine and pH are set and monitored with immediate corrective actions put in place when required.
  • Daily opening and closing checks will enable all these components to be assessed with any concerns to be addressed and put right in the first instance.

Should you require any further information or advice on your swimming pool safety then please do contact one of the CSC Team.