Feature Article - July 2009
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Water Hazard

Managing Aquatic Risk

By Daniel Margolis


ecreation managers face risk in their jobs every day: Getting any number of people engaged in activities in or out of the water will bring some level of risk of injury. When aquatic recreation is involved, the potential increases tenfold.

"Whenever you have bodies in water there are risks associated with it, because water is a hazard," said Tom Lachocki, CEO of the Colorado Springs, Co.-based National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF). "No one goes to an aquatic facility because they haven't had a rash in a while, or because they feel protected against drowning, suction entrapment or chemical exposures. They go there for recreation or exercise or fun."

It is therefore up to aquatic facility managers to manage such risks appropriately so the end user's experience is a positive one. Doing so, however, is a complex task. Aquatic facility managers must contend with not only the basic risk of drowning, but also unseen threats such as recreational water illnesses (RWIs). They also must make sure their facilities are well maintained and compliant with state and federal codes, and that their staffs are well trained and up to the task of keeping patrons safe. And that's a hefty job.