Risk Reduction Strategies for Public Swimming Pools

Risk reduction strategies are an important consideration for all aquatic facilities.

Swimming pools carry inherent risks for patrons and employees alike. Reviewing risk reduction strategies should be a regular occurrence for all aquatic facility managers.


Step 1 – Identify the Risk

A consistent team of management personnel should be regularly tasked with reviewing poolside risks. The following subjects should be considered as potential opportunities for injuries and accidents:

Personnel – Talk with your lifeguard and engineering managers. Assure that they are holding regular in-service trainings to keep their team prepared for all possible scenarios.

                In-Service Recommendations for Aquatic Teams

                In-Service Recommendations for Maintenance Teams

Barriers to Entry – Review your fences, gates, doors and locks to insure they are code compliant. Consider additional barriers to entry such as pool alarms, video cameras and off-season safety covers.

Electrical Safety – Confirm that all outlets are GFCI protected and that electrical equipment is being used on the pool deck was designed to be in an aquatic environment. Confirm staff working on electrical components follow appropriate safety protocol.

Signage, Rules and Play Features – Regularly assess your signage to ensure state level compliance. Add additional signage that identifies and reduces unique risks associated with your facility.

                Signage Recommendations

Emergency Action Plans – Yearly assessment of your emergency actions plans (injury, fire, severe storm, active shooter…) and subsequent team training should confirm your that your facility is prepared for any severe event.

                Writing Simple EAP’s

Chemical Storage – Verify that your pool chemicals are inaccessible, properly labeled, and stored per OSHA guidelines. Staff should be trained in safe chemical usage and should follow SDS requirements with regards to their personal protective equipment.

                Safe Chemical Storage and Handling

Step 2 – Evaluate the Risk

Risk can be evaluated in two ways – by its likelihood of occurrence, and severity. Assign two scores (low, medium or high) for each risk, one score for likelihood and one score for severity. Map these scores on an X and Y axis, as shown. Risks with higher severity and likelihood will require more consideration then less frequent and severe risks.

Step 3 – Treat the Risk

For each risk, choose an appropriate response.

Accept – Some risks with low severity and low likelihood may not require further action.

Mitigate – Many risks can be lessened through planning, training, rule amendment or facility adjustments.

Remove – Risks with the highest severity and lowlihood may require the most drastic changes. A ban of certain activities, practices, or feature usage may be your safest option.

Step 4 – Monitor and Review the Risk

Risk Management is an ongoing process that should be regularly reviewed throughout the year. Set a reoccurring appointment on a monthly or quarterly basis to track and monitor risk reduction. Keeping detailed records on incidents and accidents is helpful in monitoring control of existing risks. Records can also aid in the identification of new risk.


This topic is explored in detail at all our 16-hour Certified Pool / Spa Operator training programs.

Click here to find a class for your team.