2 min read

What procedures do we need in place for out-of-hours use of our swimming pool?

Q: As part of our wellbeing program for staff at school, we are considering providing staff access to our swimming pool and gym after hours and during holidays. Since employees may be on their own when they visit the pool, what do we need to do to fulfil our duty of care to them? Is supervision required?

A: Employers have an obligation to, as far as reasonably practicable, ensure the health and safety of their employees. This would include, for example, providing training and instruction to employees who wish to access workplace facilities, such as the swimming pool and gym, especially where such facilities can carry a high risk of injury.

When reviewing your health and safety obligations, you should also consider:

  • whether training and instruction should be provided to employees regardless of whether they are accessing the facilities during, or outside of, normal work hours; and
  • whether there is a risk that employees will bring guests with them (e.g. partners, children) to use the facilities, as this could pose additional health and safety risks.

On-site gyms are a high-risk facility that can result in serious bodily injury to employees. This can expose employers to breaches of health and safety legislation and employers must be proactive in detecting and, if possible, eliminating any risks to health and safety that may arise through an employee’s use of the gym.

In working towards an employer’s health and safety obligations, employers should consider, among other actions, taking the following steps:

  • conduct recurring risk and safety assessments of the gym and its equipment;
  • prohibit access to the gym if without supervision or another employee;
  • implement rules and procedures for use of the gym; and
  • limiting access to those employees who have:
  • completed appropriate forms relating to age, health and fitness history;
  • completed suitable competency and medical assessments; and
  • attended a training session on the safe use of equipment.

Similar to gyms, swimming pools also carry a high risk to health and safety of employees. As a starting point, we would recommend that you review the guidelines developed by the Royal Life Saving Society (these can be found here: https://www.royallifesaving.com.au/aquatic-centres/managers/guidelines-for-safe-aquaticvenues). These have been developed to provide water safety information across various aquatic environments.

We recommend that you seek legal advice in relation to your specific operations, and the degree of training and instruction to provide to workers.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Alcohol and other drugs for current advice.

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