Safe Working Practices
Apart from adherence to relevant Acts and regulations, employers should establish their own safety policy. This should include written safe work practices, in consultation with employees. The written safety policy should include an assessment of hazards associated with all aspects of operation of the plant, and precautions to control the risks.
Some hazards associated with pool operation include:
Risks to employees or pool users from chemicals used in disinfection systems. These include: irritation of skin or eyes; enhanced flammability of materials due to disinfectants being strong oxidising agents; and leaks of toxic gases. The most serious risk is of an uncontrolled escape of chlorine gas following the incorrect fitting of chlorine gas lines or the inadvertent mixing of chlorine-based disinfectant with acid.
Risks from murky water. As well as indicating that water treatment and quality is inadequate, murky water is a safety hazard because it may harbour microbiological contaminants that cause disease and obscure observance of pool users in difficulty.
Adequate training should be provided to employees about all safety measures and hazards. Records should be kept of content and attendance at courses or in-services. Training should:
Be related specifically to the operation of the particular plant, hazards associated with it and substances used. Employees’ attention should be drawn to any manufacturers’ instructions, and copies made conveniently available (for example, they may be affixed to the plant itself).
Be provided for enough employees to ensure that plant need never be operated by untrained staff.
Include the use, care and maintenance of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Require those who have been trained demonstrate that they can operate and maintain the plant safely.
Miscellaneous risks to employees, including from work in confined spaces or the use of electrical equipment.
Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 2001
The Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 2001 sets out the parameters within which pools and spas where the public are admitted must be maintained to ensure safe water conditions for pool users. This includes chemical and microbiological levels, as well as testing and recording requirements. The Regulations also prescribe minimum levels of water clarity.
Pool managers should ensure that all staff involved in water quality and plant operation have an appropriate knowledge of and access to the current Health Regulations. A copy should be kept on-site.
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
The objectives of the Occupational Health and Safety Act are:
To secure the health, safety and welfare of employees and other persons at work.
To eliminate, at the source, risks to the health, safety or welfare of employees and other persons at work.
To ensure that the health and safety of members of the public is not placed at risk by the conduct of undertakings by employers and self-employed persons.
To provide for the involvement of employees, employers, and organisations representing those persons, in the formation and implementation of health, safety and welfare standards.
Adhering to the Occupational Health and Safety Act includes protecting staff and the public who work at or use a pool. The manager should have the necessary authority to implement reasonable measures to ensure the premises are safe, and all plant and substances are operated, stored and used safely without risks to health.
Identifying the hazards and by taking precautions to control the risks helps managers to reduce their liability. Training, certification and record keeping are fundamental in providing a safe, healthy environment—and they are the manager’s key to safeguarding legal requirements and producing a successful operation.