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  • Learn to Swim Safety


    Does your school run learn to swim programs as part of the curriculum?

    Each year, Catholic schools and colleges organise learn to swim programs and swimming carnivals for students and while swimming is an important part of a healthy physical education, it is not risk free.

    Royal Life Saving Society-Australias National Drowning Report indicates that 49 people lost their lives at Australian swimming pools between 2009 and 2010.

    Schools and colleges have a duty of care to students, staff and visitors under common law to manage foreseeable risks including risks associated with swimming activities and pools.

    Some common risks Life Saving Victoria see associated with swimming pools include unruly behaviour, slips and trips, damaged equipment and inadequate access control, said Andy Dennis, Commercial Facilities Coordinator for Life Saving Victoria.

    Mr Dennis said Insufficient supervision underpins all of these areas, supervision is the key to getting swim safety right.

    When it comes to swimming, it is important to always be prepared for the worst case scenario. You can minimise the risks associated with swimming activities by implementing a risk management program for swimming and pool safety.

    Taking a risk management approach

    Identify hazards associated with the organisation and management of swimming activities for your school. Common risks present within a swimming pool environment include but may not be limited to: slippery surfaces; poor supervision; uncovered water filters; exposure to UV light; inadequate depth signage; and exposure to chemicals. In fact anything that has the potential to cause injury, loss or damage may be considered a risk.

    Before you can begin to manage risk, you first need to identify what can go wrong? Risk management is about forward planning and involves taking a proactive

    approach to protecting students, staff and others against potential injury or illness.

    Schools engaging in swimming activities should identify potential or existing hazards, assess the likelihood of those hazards causing loss, prioritise the risks and treat or control them in order of risk ranking.

    Example Swimming risks:

    Hazard Risk Risk ranking

    Unsuitable and unsafe safety equipment

    Injuries and/or drowning


    Lack of supervision

    Drowning Very high

    Please consult AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management Principles and Guidelines for detailed information on risk assessments

  • CCI RM230 0613

    Risk controls

    Where schools loan/hire facilities from external service providers they should obtain a letter of agreement/contract from the manager that outlines both parties responsibilities such as lifeguards, first aid, emergency procedures, water quality etc. Schools should ask for confirmation that the pool is compliant with the Guidelines for Water Safety in Commercial Learn to Swim and School Pools from Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA) or Guidelines for Safe Pool Operation

    If schools hire out their pool to external parties they should also develop a letter of agreement highlighting the responsibilities of both the school and the hirer

    Make certain lifeguards are trained and qualified in the following:

    Bronze Medallion

    Certificate II in Public Safety (Aquatic Rescue)

    Senior First Aid Certificate

    Advanced Resuscitation Certificate

    Defibrillation Certificate

    Spinal Management Certificate

    Silver Medallion Aquatic Rescue

    Swimming programs should be tailored to the range of student swimming abilities. Students and parents should be notified of the swimming program, with a survey of the swimming abilities reported to the school

    Students must be adequately trained and deemed as a competent swimmer prior to being allowed to dive from diving blocks. Students must also be adequately supervised whilst using the diving blocks

    Educate students on the use of protective equipment such as goggles, caps and ear plugs

    Ensure student supervision ratios take into consideration the students age, swimming ability and special needs and are in accordance with the requirements of the Guidelines for Water Safety in Commercial Learn to Swim and School Pools

    Ensure adequate first aid and rescue equipment is provided for swimming activities in accordance with the Guidelines for Water Safety in Commercial Learn to Swim and School Pools

    Request that all students bring their own sunscreen and remind students to re-apply as required

    Ensure amenities are cleaned frequently, floors are non-slip and hand-soap is provided.

    Monitoring and review

    Monitor and review risk controls at regular intervals to ascertain effectiveness and amend controls if deemed inadequate.

    Further Resources

    Royal Life Saving Society-Australiawww.royallifesaving.com.au

    Life Saving Victoriawww.lifesavingvictoria.com.au/www/html/ 7-home-page.asp

    Surf Life Saving Australiawww.slsa.asn.au

    Standards Australiawww.standards.org.au


    National Drowning Report 2010www.royallifesaving.com.au/resources/documents/2010_Drowning_Report.pdf

    Your CEO and Department of Education in your state or territory.

    Relevant Standards, Regulations and Acts

    AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management Principles and Guidelines

    HB 266:2010 Guide for Managing Risk in Not-For-Profit Organisations

    State WHS Acts and Regulations

    For further information and assistance on learn to swim safety or to obtain a copy of our Pool Facility Inspection Checklist, please contact the risksupport Helpdesk on 1300 660 827.

    To discuss your insurance options, please contact your Account Executive on 1800 011 028.

    Important Notice: This publication is intended to provide a summary and general information only to clients of Catholic Church Insurance Limited. It does not constitute, and should not be relied on as advice or considered as a comprehensive coverage of the topics discussed. You should seek professional advice tailored to your own circumstances.

    1300 660 827helpdesk@risksupport.org.au www.risksupport.org.au

    If you would like further information about Learn to Swim Safety, please contact the risksupport Helpdesk on:

    www.risksupport.org.auCatholic Church Insurance Limited ABN 76 000 005 210, AFSL no. 235415 GPO Box 180 Melbourne 3001


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