THE INSTITUTE of Swimming Pool Engineers is calling for industry-wide action to raise awareness of the risk of entrapment in swimming pools following the latest in a series of incidents including deaths.
Newly elected ISPE President John Cheek is looking to work with the Pool Water Advisory Group (PWTAG) and The Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association (SPATA) to highlight issues including differing advice and standards. The move coincides with the publication of a new Health and Safety Executive publication, The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, which emphasises the responsibility of designers and builders in showing duty of care.
“CDEM 2015 does not just apply to commercial projects – from this year, it will also apply to domestic projects,” John Cheek warned delegates at a recent ISPE seminar.
“If you are involved in a project that is design non-compliant, it is down to you, regardless of how many contractors on board – a lot of people are concerned about this one; especially architects.”
As highlighted in the October issue of Pool & Spa Scene, the hidden risk to pools is widely recognised as a ‘ticking time bomb’. Both PWTAG and SPATA standard guidelines clearly state there should be two main drains in swimming pools to minimise the risk of entrapment.
“The problem is that these guidelines are not clear and can be interpreted in many different ways,” John warned. “SPATA standards in particular need amending and updating and I am assured this is going to happen.”
Pool Fatalities Although UK figures are sketchy, the 2012 UK Consumer Product Safety Commission report records of 106 entrapment incidents between 1999 and 2011 including 12 fatalities and 89 cases where people required hospital treatment. In the UK, new pools should be built to comply with BSEN 15288 and SPATA standards to take into account the requirement for two main drains and where necessary, an antivacuum safety device to be fitted.
John continued: “The primary risk in our industry is drowning and one of the primary causes of that is entrapment.
“With the absence of law; guidelines need to be clearer so that everybody knows and everybody is singing from same hymn book including PWTAG and SPATA having the same standards,” he added. John, the managing director of stalwart swimming pool specialists, Hydrospec, says as many as 250,000 pools in the UK could be at risk due to outdated building methods.
“This is a controversial issue but we need to be working together as an industry to try and prevent further incidents and even deaths,” he urged. “We are going to talk to PWTAG and SPATA and make sure this standard is clear…at the moment it is far from that,” he said. “There are people out there getting this wrong and a genuine trend for some operators and owners of pools at risk to ignore recommendations due to the cost implications,” John added. “We need to work together as an industry on this one,” John emphasised.
“We are professional people and each one of us is obliged as our ‘duty of care’ to point out the risks and keep a record of that advice; despite the fact that others may be tempted to cut corners.”