Published 24 March 2016 

The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK) is urging hotel and spa operators to review their pool safety procedures after the death of a three-year-old girl in a hotel swimming pool.

Jane Bell, from Galashiels in the Scotland, was visiting the Dalmeny Hotel in St Annes while on holiday with her family. The youngster drowned after getting into difficulty in the pool. The coroner, who gave a verdict of accidental death at the inquest into the three-year-old’s death, heard that there was no trained lifeguard on duty at the time of the incident and voiced his concerns about the risk of future deaths.

The HSE guidance document, Managing Health and Safety in Swimming Pools, recommends that constant poolside supervision by lifeguards provides the best assurance of pool users’ safety.

Lifeguards are trained to prevent accidents, educate pool users, rescue and provide first aid. The majority of pool lifeguards are also trained to use an AED which is a vital piece of equipment if an individual has a heart attack, significantly increasing their chances of survival. The RLSS UK is the leading provider of pool lifeguards in the UK through its National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ).

“Although we would recommend the best course of action is to provide a lifeguarded pool at all times, it is common for hotels and spas not to provide constant poolside supervision. However, as this tragic incident shows, it is crucial that operators make their pools as safe as possible and there are steps operators can take to minimise risks,” says Martin Symcox, director of IQL UK, the training subsidiary of RLSS UK.

Where operators decide not to have lifeguards they still need to complete a risk assessment and demonstrate that they have done all that is reasonably practical to prevent a swimmer from drowning. And staff must be trained to respond to an emergency, rescue and provide first aid.

“At RLSS UK, we are often consulted about safety in hotel pools. As a starting point, operators need to conduct a risk assessment to determine the dangers in their pool, who may be harmed, how likely an accident could occur and the measures they could take to reduce or prevent an accident. This risk assessment should be reviewed regularly,” added Symcox.

The RLSS UK offers a range of qualifications to help hotel and spa operators manage health and safety in their pools. These include the National Pool Management Qualification (NPMQ), which has been developed in direct response to the findings of an industry survey, which showed worrying knowledge gaps in both understanding and complying with law, regulations and guidance when managing a pool.

The RLSS UK Emergency Response Pool Qualification is designed for staff working in a facility where there is a swimming pool but no direct poolside supervision. It is also gives ancillary staff the skills to provide greater support to the lifeguard team in the event of an emergency.