Leisure centre facilities, from the gym to the swimming pool, spa and sauna, are popular with customers across the country. The ideal venue for fitness and relaxation, as a leisure centre, you will, no doubt, be acutely aware of health and safety. But what are your major considerations?
Every activity that can be undertaken in your leisure centre facility must be risk assessed. From how people access the swimming pool to hazards and potential risks in changing areas or in the foyer, understanding what the hazards are and what level of risk they pose is essential.
With news that leisure centres can re-open following the recent lock-down, many owners are grappling with health and safety in the Covid-19 era. To ensure you have all the necessary measures in place, a Covid-19 risk assessment is essential but what should it cover?
The current Covid-19 guidelines
The UK Government, as well as the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments, are issuing weekly updates to their Covid-19 guidance. With a lead in times to changes happening on the ground of around one to two weeks leisure centre managers have a chance to make changes to their risk assessments and the measures they need to put in place.
Minimising contact between staff and leisure centre users is just one aspect of re-opening after lockdown. A risk assessment must clearly set out what the hazards are, what the level of risk is for each of these hazards and what measures are in place to minimise the risks as much as possible.
All risk assessments should be reviewed annually, although when the environment changes, for example, new tiling is being laid in the changing room or lighting is being altered in the corridors, a new risk assessment should be completed.
There is no denying the significance of a risk assessment nor the importance of this being a ‘living document’, and not a tick box exercise.
Hazardous chemicals and substances
Some may assume that this only applies to those leisure facilities with swimming pools, spas, steam rooms or saunas but that isn’t the case. Any leisure centre using cleaning fluids – and that would be all facilities! – need to be aware of the correct means of using, storing and transporting chemicals that are deemed hazardous.
In terms of swimming pools, hot tubs etc., there needs to be regular testing of the water, the correct chemical dilution used to keep the water safe and the chemicals stored in the correct way.
There needs to be kept a written record of every part of this process, from the moment chemicals are delivered, to when they are used and how they are disposed of.
Emergency action plan
Things do go wrong and when they do, it is essential that there is a plan in place that everyone knows how to follow and what to do.
Whilst an emergency plan on paper is a step forward, if people are unsure or unaware of what their role is in the event of a fire, for example, or a chemical spill, there is little doubt that any evacuation will not be orderly – and could lead to other emergencies happening too.
The plan should cover all eventualities, including fire, chemical spills, as well as who needs to be notified, action to be taken and how all patrons, contractors and staff will be accounted for.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and all subsidiary regulations, state that reasonable care needs to be taken at all times to ensure that a building and the activities within it are safe. And this applies to leisure centres.
What can be lacking is training and awareness of health and safety. With this in mind, ensuring that all staff are well-trained in all aspects of health and safety as it applies to your leisure facility is key in staff being safe, as well as patrons and contractors too.