Shropshire Council

Swim centres

The main hazards associated with swim centres (the list is not exhaustive) include:

Injuries arising from lifting

In order to prevent such injuries employers are required to take precautionary measures to minimise hazardous manual handling operations e.g. when moving drums of chemicals, inflatable equipment, lane ropes etc. and use lifting, handling and assisting aids wherever practicable. Employers must also carry out a sufficient assessment of manual handling operations.

Electrical safety

All equipment should be installed and maintained by a competent person.  It is recommended (IEE Wiring Regs BS7671) that the fixed system is inspected/tested at least every year and that all electrical appliances are examined/checked  ("PAT" Tested) at a frequency appropriate to the risk.  Regular maintenance should include visual checks for general wear and tear ensuring that plugs, leads and sockets are in good condition and that there is no exposed wiring.  Any corrective actions must be carried out immediately.

Electrical equipment should not normally be used in wet areas.  Where it is necessary to use portable electrical equipment at or near poolside, it must be selected and used carefully to reduce the electrical risks.  Socket outlets should not normally be located in wet areas.  Where they are they should be a type suitable for that environment (particular care should be taken where hoses or water jets are used).  The supply to these sockets should be protected by the use of earth monitoring systems or via non-adjustable residual current devices (RCDs) with a rated tripping current not exceeding 30mA.  In a wet or humid environment, the risks from damaged or faulty portable electrical equipment are high and need managing and controlling by an appropriate maintenance system.

Gas safety

Gas appliances must be maintained in a safe condition.  Effective routine maintenance should involve a programme of regular and periodic examination at intervals not more than twelve months from the last safety check/date of installation by a competent person (CORGI Registered).

Safe use of machinery

To prevent harm to employees ensure that all staff are fully trained to use the equipment provided.   Ensure that workplace equipment is maintained and it is safe for use and that it is the right equipment for the job.

Unacceptable behaviour (violence/high spirits)

Proper control and timely enforcement of house rules are crucial to ensure the safe behaviour of both staff and bathers.  Particular emphasis should be placed on staff training.

Floors and finishes

In order to reduce slip and trip hazards these areas should be kept free from obstructions at all times.  Slip hazards can also be reduced by good design. Surface roughness, moisture displacement, the profile and surface pattern of the finish and foot grip, all effect slip resistance.  The normal recommended range for the fall in wet areas is between 1:35 and 1:60.  When combined with a slip resistant finish such as a 25 stud ceramic tile this should create a satisfactory surface.  Floor gullies, gutter and valleys should not constitute tripping hazards, and the drainage outlets shouldn't have sharp edges.  They should also be easy to maintain.

Staff should wear sensible footwear.  Warning signs should be displayed during cleaning to warn customers/staff of potentially slippery surfaces.  Ensure that any change in floor level is clearly visible

Hazardous substances

To prevent personal harm from hazardous substances e.g. skin irritation, respiratory disease, a COSHH risk assessment is required for substances such as cleaning chemicals, chlorine dosing chemicals and acids etc.

Water quality

A significant risk associated with the use of swimming pools, particularly those used by babies and very young children, is the hazard of faecal fouling.  Procedures should be established and operated to cover faecal fouling incidents.  All staff should be aware of the procedures.

Pool operators must assess the possible risk from micro-organisms and take suitable measures such as regular chemical and bacteriological sampling (at least monthly) as well as constant checks on the correct operation of disinfectant and filtration plant.

Pool supervision

Constant poolside supervision by lifeguards provides the best assurance of poolside users safety.  Effective supervision requires high levels of concentration and attentiveness and the length of duty spells (numbers & rotation of staff) on the poolside is an important factor.

Visibility of bathers at all times must be assessed and such factors as sun glare, structural pillars must be taken into consideration.

Water temperatures and legionella control

Where there are communal washing facilities arrangements should be made to prevent the risk of infection from legionella bacteria.  One way to minimise the growth of legionella is to store hot water above 60C and distributed it at above 50C. 

However, care is needed where water runs hot.  The risks of scalding should be assessed and appropriate measures taken to prevent burns, e.g. warning notices and thermostatic mixing valves on taps. 

Water systems should be designed to avoid conditions that favour the growth of legionella by ensuring adequate insulation of storage tanks and pipes, using materials that do not encourage growth of legionella and protecting against contamination by fitting water storage tanks with lids.  Water systems need to be routinely checked and inspected by a competent person and the risk assessment should be reviewed regularly. 

Water stagnation can encourage conditions that favour growth of legionella.  It is therefore advisable to remove dead runs in pipe work from the system, flush out seldom used shower heads, taps and remaining dead legs periodically (weekly), and to remove any dirt or limescale.  Other water treatment methods include chemical disinfection.


To prevent severe injury or death caused by impact from outside or inside the pool, windows & glass panel doors in the pool hall should be made of suitably toughened safety glazing.  The provision of barrier rails is also a control measure to prevent bathers coming into contact with glazing.  Any large areas of glass e.g. entrance doors should be clearly marked so that people are aware of its presence.

Smoking (effective 1 July 2007)

All premises, which are wholly or substantially enclosed and used as a place of work by more than one person are, now smoke free.  "No smoking" signs must be displayed at the public entrance to the premises.  Take reasonable steps to ensure that staff, customers etc. are aware that smoking is not permitted.  Ensure that no one smokes in smoke free premises or vehicles.

Safety signs

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 cover prohibition, mandatory warning and emergency escape or first aid signs.  Signs may be particularly important where there are sudden changes in depth especially at shallow and deep ends.  It is also necessary to indicate where it is unsafe to swim or dive and where there are slippery surfaces.  It is also necessary to provide instructions on the safe use of the pool and its equipment.  The placement of water depth signs is important and Pool Operators should ensure that such signs are clearly visible to bathers, both from the pool surrounds and in the water.  Arrangements should be made to ensure that signs can be read by bathers with either visual impairment or understood by non readers by including e.g. pictorial elements.

Main legislative requirements

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).