LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP into opening commercial spas. Pic. H20 Cannings

PWTAG has issued re-opening guidance specifically for spa pools and hot tubs run either in a commercial or business setting.

It is likely that spa pools and hot tubs will have been shut since the early weeks of Covid-19, but some operators may have kept them full of water. PWTAG advice on temporary closure includes superchlorination prior to emptying. This guidance outlines reopening and the ongoing challenge of managing them during the current pandemic. Managers should of course be aware of the potential risks of COVID-19 transmission, but should not forget the possibility of the risks from Legionella and other infectious agents in spa pool systems, as outlined in the Health & Safety Executive’s HSG 282. Before opening, operators in commercial and business settings should check with their insurers about public liability cover in the light of COVID-19. Some insurers are applying a blanket exclusion of cover for liability resulting from COVID-19, while others are offering cover as normal – ie third party liability is insured subject to the claimant proving the operator has failed in their duty of care, resulting in third party accidental injury, illness or disease.

Operators should ensure they have up-to-date risk assessments (including a COVID-19 risk assessment) and schemes of control with health and safety guidelines that include COVID-19 – which can be demonstrated to their insurer should the need arise. These changes should also be reflected in the Pool Safety Operating Procedure (PSOP). The advice in each of the four home nations may vary, so it is worth checking the relevant websites for any differences. Public Health England advice is that hot tubs and spas should only be used in ‘social bubbles’ and should be emptied and cleaned after each rental as per best practice in HSG 282. Two families sharing a lodge could both use its hot tub – but not another visitor. One family in a lodge could invite another person to stay and use the hot tub.

Only those hot tubs and spa pools that can be used by such a social bubble can be used; thus public integrated spa pools attached to a swimming pool should not be used. Spa pool and hot tubs have always presented particular infection challenges. So it is crucial that their operation during the pandemic is preceded and governed by a rigorous audit, including formal risk assessment. PWTAG has produced an audit checklist covering all this, available on-line.

The UK’s authoritative guidance on swimming pools and spas “Dedicated solely to raising standards in swimming pool water treatment”

Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group