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Swimming pool management

This page explains what the person in charge of a swimming pool needs to do to comply with health and safety law.

The most important thing swimming pool operators should know is that they are legally required to protect the health and safety of workers and pool users.

A visit to a swimming pool should be an enjoyable experience, so operators need to protect pool users from real risk without wrongly restricting beneficial pool activities. HSE’s Risk management principles are therefore important in swimming pool management.

Health and safety law for swimming pools

There are no swimming pool specific health and safety laws. However, swimming pool operators must comply with their general duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the associated regulations.

Operators must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the health and safety risks to workers and users to help decide what they must do to make their pool safe. This is known as risk assessment.

The law does not state what safety measures an operator must put in place.  Such judgements must be made by each operator, based on the particular risks in their pool. More information on the law, your duties as a swimming pool operator and conducting a risk assessment are detailed in: Managing health and safety in swimming pools.

Guidance and advice

Managing health and safety in swimming pools has been produced to help pool operators comply with health and safety law. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law.

The guidance is meant for swimming pools used by the public but also covers segregated areas of rivers, lakes, the sea and other non-standard swimming facilities. It applies anywhere swimming is actively encouraged.

However, it does not apply to swimming in open water (eg a lake or pond), which is not maintained as a swimming facility. The guidance may also apply to paddling pools, depending on the particular circumstances. See: Swimming pools FAQs for further information.

Please note, a review of Managing health and safety in swimming pools by HSE, in collaboration with key stakeholders, is currently planned.

The Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG) produce detailed guidance on swimming pool water quality and treatment. HSE recognises their guidance as a useful resource for pool operators when drawing up their operating procedures. Enforcing authorities (HSE and local authorities) consider this guidance as the standard to be achieved in effectively managed swimming pools.

Updated 2015-12-23