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Health and safety for leisure activities

This website provides information on health and safety in leisure activities. It will help those involved in operating and managing leisure activities to decide what, if any, duties they have under health and safety law, and how to comply with them. It does not provide information on activities covered by The Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA).

The leisure sector is wide ranging and includes swimming, organised sporting activities, leisure centres, countryside visits, children’s play and motorised leisure pursuits, as well as adventurous, thrill-seeking activities such as bungee jumping.

Participation in leisure activities should be an enjoyable experience. If there is a genuine risk, see what you can do to minimise that risk and still go ahead – it can often be done. 

Health and safety law for leisure activities

The HSW Act and the regulations made under it apply to employers and the self-employed. The law requires them to do what is reasonably practicable to ensure health and safety.

The HSW Act sets out the general duties that employers have towards their employees. It also requires employers and the self-employed to protect people other than those at work (eg volunteer staff like coaches, club members, visiting teams and spectators) from risks to their health and safety arising out of, or in connection with, their work activities.

Health and safety law doesn’t, generally, impose duties upon someone who is not an employer, self-employed or an employee.

However, anyone (including volunteers) with control of non-domestic premises like a school or community hall has legal responsibilities under health and safety law to make the premises and any equipment or substances provided for their use there, safe, so far as is ‘reasonably practicable’.

For further explanation of how health and safety law applies to non-domestic premises.

Guidance and advice

We have provided some specific guidance and advice for swimming pool operators and sports clubs organiser.

If you are an employer/self-employed, you will also find general health and safety information on the Health and safety made simple pages. Activity-specific information may also be available from some governing bodies and associations.

Updated 2016-01-07