Feature Article - February 2004
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In the Swim

The Best Strategies for Aquatic Center Peak Performance

By Kim Tobin


KEYS TO DEVELOPING A
RISK MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
Following is a list of procedures to follow for developing a risk management policies, compiled from recommendations from organizations and safety experts.
  1. USE THE RIGHT CHECKLISTS.

    In the area of risk, it's crucial to use lists that best match a facility's needs in regard to hazards and safety procedures. Various national associations that offer checklist guidance include the National Aquatic Coalition (www.naqc.org), USA Swimming (www.usswim.org), USA Diving, (www.usdiving.org), the National Federation of State High School Associations (www.nfhs.org), FINA (www.fina.org), NSPI (National Spa and Pool Institute) (www.nspi.org) and ASTM International (www.astm.org). Various equipment manufacturers may also have their own recommended checklists.

  2. ADOPT THE RIGHT STANDARDS FOR YOUR FACILITY.

    Beyond checklists, it's key to clarify what the appropriate guidelines are for a facility. To make the right choices, check laws and regulations mandated by state or local governments, as well as recommendations from various industry organizations like the ones mentioned above.

  3. ESTABLISH A SAFETY COMMITTEE TO REVIEW FINDINGS.

    An appointed safety officer should create a committee made up of critical staff, such as the maintenance superintendent, the municipality's or agency's legal counsel, insurance representative, a representative from purchasing and any other staff who may be making decisions that would influence risk.

  4. MITIGATE THE HAZARDS AND CAUSES OF INJURY.

    Common critical hazardous areas include the following:

    • POOL DEPTH: There should be no diving unless a depth is recognized and accepted by a state's health department.
    • DIVING: Follow new dive-block depth recommendations (at least eight feet) and implement structural changes to accommodate them, such as modifications to diving boards or timing systems.
    • SIGNAGE: Have enough of it and provide direction on what visitors should and should not do as well as point out hazards. Essentials include: "No Diving" signs where necessary, pool capacity signs, emergency signs, proper CPR instructions and pool rules.
    • DIVING BOARD MAINTENANCE: Check that the board has enough "grit" to make it nonslip and that bolts and side rails are intact. Also make sure stairs are cleaned regularly and are not slippery.
    • DECKING: Install "No Running" signs on deck. The deck should have a splash or wet area. For zero-depth pools, ASTM is now in the process of developing safety standards, which will include decking specifications (see sidebar on page 14). In addition, the widespread use of sunscreens, applied frequently and often haphazardly, can result in slick spots from their oils. Stay aware of what areas can become slippery from oils and lotions and place appropriate signage in those areas, which are often the steps into the pool, gutter systems and outside showers.
    • LOCKER ROOMS: Display slip caution signs. Many people don't realize that water on the floor creates slip hazards.
    • Also, the advent of camera cell phones has introduced a new privacy issue with regard to locker rooms and images being taken. Signs that state no cameras or cell phones in locker rooms prevents the possibility of any in appropriate (or illegal) picture-taking.

    • LIFESAVING EQUIPMENT: Have the appropriate equipment in accordance with the certifying health departmental agency. Regularly check first-aid kits, back boards, head immobilizers, CPR masks, neck braces, safety hooks, reaching poles, life rings and rescue tubes.
    • RESUSCITATION EQUIPMENT: Have the appropriate equipment in accordance with the certifying health departmental agency and the American Red Cross.
    • NIGHT BARRIERS AROUND POOL: Install them. Failure to provide a fence or cover to secure a pool and prevent access when it's officially closed tempts improper or unscheduled use. Many accidents have happened, including drownings, from swimming and diving at night.
  5. CREATE A TEAM EFFORT THAT INVOLVES ALL THE SENSES IN ANTICIPATING AND PREVENTING ACCIDENTS.

    Encourage all staff to become part of the effort to be safety conscious.

  6. AUDIT.

    Periodic auditing, or employing an outside safety expert to check for and advise about risk factors, should be part of a facility's policy.