WorkSafe Alert for swimming pools

This safety alert, received from WorkSafe, highlights the serious health and safety risks associated with any activity that could cause fainting or loss of balance near or in the water.

Read the alert from WorkSafe here. If you have any questions around signage for your facility, please contact us.

What happened

In July 2020 a seven-year-old boy drowned at a swimming complex in the North Island.

The boy had been swimming in a supervised pool. During a period of approximately three to four minutes the boy spun around and around in the water on a horizontal axis with his feet on the ground. As a result he lost spatial awareness, causing him to sink below the water and drown.

The hazard of spinning and losing spatial awareness in an aquatic environment has not been widely identified as a risk in swimming pool complexes throughout New Zealand.

Spinning while in water can cause spatial disorientation which could lead to involuntary submersion and inhalation of water.

WorkSafe advice

We recommend all pool complexes immediately educate staff on the risk of people spinning or doing any activity that may cause them to faint or lose balance in, or near water.

Some considerations include:
  • Consider implementing a system to readily identify children under the age of eight where active supervision by caregivers is required. For example, through the use of wrist bands which identifies children who should be actively supervised too pool staff.
  • Consider the use of information cards which can be given directly to caregivers outlining their responsibilities to actively supervise the children in their care. This may need to be in a variety of languages.
  • Ensure signage, with information outlining your expectations of what active supervision means, is placed throughout pool complexes. It's important this is clear, concise and in appropriate places to ensure it is seen and understood.

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