Swimming Pools

There are many potential hazards surrounding the use of pools, including:

Chemical Management

Swimming pool chemicals control bacteria and algae.  In concentrated form these chemicals are toxic and can become unstable and produce poisonous fumes or even fire when mixed with other chemicals.

Water Safety

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for people between the ages of five and twenty four.  Lack of supervision, horseplay/running, and inexperienced swimmers can all lead to serious incidents or drowning. (refer to the School Policy and Advisory Guide - Swimming Supervision and Water Safety for detailed advice).

Plant and Equipment

Broken or poorly maintained equipment such as missing or broken grating or exposed electrical wiring can pose a serious risk to the health and safety of pool users.

Through the planned and systematic management of swimming pools, a safer environment can be achieved.


Relevant sections of the OHSMS


Chemical Management

OHS Risk Management

Where/when would these issues be relevant?

These issues would be relevant in all of the Department's workplaces that own/manage a pool on their site.

Please note that workplaces who share their pool with the surrounding community or other organisations must ensure that these organisations have appropriate occupational health and safety management systems in place to address hazards they may be exposed to.

The Workplace Manager is responsible for ensuring that the pool is managed in a safe manner at all times, regardless of the user/s.

What do you need to do?

Workplaces that have a pool on their site need to manage the risks associated with their pool. 

Chemical Management:

  • Identify all pool chemicals that are dangerous goods and hazardous substances in consultation with Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) and employees.
  • Record all such substances on the workplace Chemical Register and make the register available to all employees.
  • Obtain and review Safety Data Sheets for each substance to determine the risks to employees, students and other pool users.
  • Conduct a risk assessment refer to the OHS Risk Management Procedure in order to rate the risks associated with chemical management and identify ways to eliminate/reduce the risks to employees, students and other users of the pool.
  • Refer to the WorkSafe publication-Recognising Dangerous Goods to make sure safe storage of particular combinations of substances.
  • Ensure chemicals are stored in a secure area away from weather extremes.
  • Ensure emergency evacuation, safe containment and management procedures are in place for any dangerous goods stored and used on site.
  • Develop a Safe Work Procedure and provide the necessary training for employees to comply with them.
  • Investigate incidents, review risk controls and keep records of the process for at least five years.
  • Monitor and review the safety systems to make sure the risk is being adequately managed.
  • Ensure quantities of chemicals are kept to a minimum to decrease manual handling risk associated with these.

 Water Safety:

  • Pool users must be supervised at all times.
  • Swimming programs require a minimum of two employees/instructors to supervise students.
  • Swimming instructors must have appropriate qualification such as first aid and CPR skills (refer to the School Policy and Advisory Guide - Swimming Supervision and Water Safety for detailed advice).
  • Ensure all fences and gates are in good working order and there are no objects that could be used to climb into the pool area.
  • Consider the use of a ‘buddy’ system to check on student safety.
  • Consideration should be given to the use of computer aided drowning detection systems.
  • Develop an emergency management plan.
  • Develop local pool safety rules (e.g. no running around the edges of the pool, no diving in the shallow end etc.).

Plant Rooms/Plant and Equipment:

  • Ensure that no fittings are broken or missing.
  • Ensure that all suction fittings, grates or covers are secure and in good condition.
  • All electrical sources and equipment should be sheltered from water, as a result of weather, over splash or cleaning processes.
  • Residual Current Device (i.e. Safety Switches) should be installed on all circuits supplying power to the pool.
  • Risk controls should be regularly reviewed to ensure appropriateness.

Legislation, guidance and Codes of Practice

Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004

Dangerous Goods Act 1985

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017

Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012

Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Dangerous Goods 2013

Contact us

OHS Advisory Service on ph. 1300 074 715 or email: safety@edumail.vic.gov.au

Further information

Royal Lifesaving Association

School Policy and Advisory Guide