About the Programme


  • Relevant to a wide range of sectors, including teaching (field trips), construction, environmental health, leisure and the emergency services
  • Fulfils the water safety training needs of a wide range of users (reflecting the range of activities that take place in and around the water’s edge)
  • Endorsed by the Health and Safety Executive for its sensible, proportionate, reasonable and balanced advice to both those responsible for groups around the water margin or workers operating in, on or near water and in particular managing the risk from operating around the water margin.

Balancing Prevention and Response

The NWSMP programme embraces contemporary approaches to risk management by balancing the need for simple pro-active safety management practices, with a strong focus on preventative measures – along with effective emergency response skills.

Flexible Modular Framework relevant to a wide range of sectors

The NWSMP is built around a modular framework, enabling employers to construct relevant and bespoke water safety training programmes by selecting modules most suited to their operational and individual needs.


The programme starts with Level 1, the Water Safety Awareness Module, which provides the theoretical platform for more advanced modules.  Environment Specific Modules cover hazards associated with flood, beach, river and still water as well as basic rescue techniques.  The flood module meets DEFRA standards (Module 1 Water Awareness). For anyone requiring more advanced rescue skills, the In-Water Rescue Module covers essential in-water rescue knowledge and tests competency.

Life Support can be bolted on to make a truly comprehensive programme and additional NWSMP modules are being considered to meet the needs of even more employers.  The latest edition to the NWSMP family is the Aquatic Personal Protective Equipment (APPE) module, providing in depth guidance on a selection of appropriate APPE and correct use, including commercial lifejackets.

The NWSMP is a RLSS UK certificated award. Level 1 includes a self study pack and a four hour guided learning unit. Each Level 2 and Level 3 Module involves three hours of training. The duration of the course will depend on modules taken but a typical programme, covering Level 1, two Level 2 Modules and Level 3 requires 2 days of training.

Aims of NWSMP

The aims of the NWSMP are to:

  • Equip anyone working in, on or near water with essential knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about managing safety
  • Enable group leaders to deliver safer activity at open water sites
  • Develop occupational water safety skills for employees working around the water margins
  • Facilitate compliance with Statutory and Civil obligations, especially the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 with related regulations and covering Safe Systems of Work
  • Develop effective Emergency Response Skills for those working in a water-based environment

Supporting Employers – Protecting Employees

RLSS UK has developed the National Water Safety Management Programme (NWSMP) to provide a flexible occupational water safety management training solution for a wide range of employers who require their workforce to operate safely in or near water.

The NWSMP programme is a key step forward in helping employers meet their civil and statutory water safety management obligations, especially where employees have supervisory responsibilities in or near water. Many people working near the water margins receive minimal or no water safety training due to water safety training often taking a back seat compared to more traditional and recognised health and safety training. Through consultation with industry and lead bodies, RLSS UK has identified this gap in water safety training provision and launched NWSMP to close the gap, improving water safety across a wide range of working environments and operational sectors.

Programme Development

The NWSMP is as relevant to a school teacher as it is to a member of the emergency services, countryside ranger, construction worker or outdoor pursuits instructor.

The Programme has been endorsed by the Health and Safety Executive, Outdoor Education Advisory Panel, Expedition Providers’ Association and was developed in close consultation with a number of relevant and key leading bodies including:

  • Health and Safety Executive
  • Expedition Providers’ Association
  • Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
  • Devon & Cornwall Police
  • Institute of Outdoor Learning
  • National Open Water Coaching Association
  • The Scouts Association
  • Outdoor Education Advisory Panel