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Safer Pool Design Managing a poorly-designed commercial pool can be extremely expensive. Alex Blackwell, Head of Vocational Qualifications at the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) calls for greater communication between pool designers, builders and operators to create safer pools


here are a number of factors that affect the safe management of commercial swimming pools. For lifeguards in particular, these include lighting, glare, reflection, blind spots, turbulence, depth of the water and the pool’s finishes and colours. Any factors that impact the ability to lifeguard a pool, the lifeguard’s view of swimmers and the pool floor, and the ability of staff to reach a casualty in an emergency have the potential to drive up staffing and lifeguarding costs. In the current economic climate, operators need to be able to run their pools as efficiently and safely as possible. But it is not uncommon for operators to find themselves in the position of having to invest in more lifeguarding staff to manage the challenges caused by the design of the pool, which can be extremely expensive. The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK) is passionate about drowning prevention

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and providing a safe swimming environment without driving up costs unnecessarily. With this in mind, we encourage architects to meet with pool operators to discuss the design of a swimming pool with regards to aesthetics as well as running costs. Increased communication between pool designers, builders and operators at the design stage of the project would go a long way to minimising some of the problems listed above, if not eliminating them entirely. A few architects already do this well and as a result are designing and building swimming pools without losing any design creativity. However in our experience, most don’t seem to have a grasp of the day-to-day needs of pool operation resulting in a greater need for lifeguarding staff and therefore greater costs.

THE PROBLEM OF GLARE Glare and reflection are arguably the most common problems experienced by pool

operators. Visibility issues can be caused by light reflecting onto the pool water, either by sun streaming through windows or internal lighting, and can cause significant problems for those lifeguarding a pool. When RLSS UK reviewed the training resources of the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ), we found many pools where the design of the pool and visibility directly impacted the number of lifeguards required. In some instances a casualty on the bottom of the pool could not be seen at all when the lifeguard moved two metres along the side of the pool. A video demonstrating this issue is included in our training resources to show the dangers of glare/reflection. For some operators, the problems of glare/reflection are such that an extra one or even two lifeguards are required, which significantly increases operational running costs. The trend for glass facades and floor to 21/03/2016 21:27

SPN (Swimming Pool News) April 2016  

Informing the pool and spa industry since 1959. Covering the UK's wet leisure market, SPN (Swimming Pool News) is the UK's longest running a...

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