Level 2 Award in Pool
Section 1: The responsibilities of pool operators to provide a safe pool environment
Section 1: The responsibilities of
pool operators to provide a safe pool
Pool operators, and all other individuals who are responsible for the management and
operation of pools, have a legal responsibility to provide a safe pool environment for
bathers, staff, spectators and visitors.
Pool water should be clean and free from any contaminants that may harm bathers or
make them ill. Many things can contaminate a pool; these include physical pollutants
from the human body, biological pollutants (such as bacteria or infections), and chemical
pollutants from bathers, incoming water supplies or added by pool operators.
As with any other industry in the UK, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAW)
places a legal duty on pool operators to ensure a safe working environment and safe
working practices. This is referred to as a ‘duty of care’.
The HASAW 1974 is reinforced by the European Management of Health and Safety at
Work Regulations 1999 which require managers and pool operators to carry out risk
assessments and produce documents which underpin safe working practices. These
documents are referred to as ‘Normal Operating Procedures’ (NOPs) and ‘Emergency
Action Plans’ (EAPs).
Normal Operating Procedures apply to the working environment most of the time, when
everything is running normally. Emergency Action Plans come into play when things go
Should anyone be hurt or injured as a result of non-compliance with the law, there
may be an investigation leading to the prosecution of individuals and organisations.
Businesses may also become vulnerable to claims for compensation by the damaged
There are a number of publications which provide guidance on the operation of pools, including:
• Managing Health and Safety in Swimming Pools (HSG179, 2003, third edition, published by the HSE).
• Swimming Pool Water: treatment and quality standards for pools and spas (Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group
• Code of Practice: The management and treatment of swimming pool water (PWTAG).
• Guidelines for safe recreational water environments: volume 2, swimming pools and similar environments (World
Health Organisation, 2006).
• BS EN 13451-1:2001. Swimming pool equipment. Part 1. General safety requirements and test methods.
• BS EN 15288-2:2008. Swimming pools. Safety requirements for operation.
• BS EN 15288-1:2008. Swimming pools. Safety requirements for design.
Although there are a number of guidance documents, the industry has adopted ‘Managing Health and Safety in Swimming
Pools (HSG179)’ and the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group publication ‘Swimming Pool Water: treatment and
quality standards for pools and spas’ as the key authoritative texts. Most Normal Operating Procedures and Emergency
Action Plans for swimming pools are based on these two documents.
These texts will be referred to throughout this manual as HSG179 (‘Managing Health and Safety in Swimming Pools’
document) and SPW (PWTAG publication ‘Swimming Pool Water: treatment and quality standards in pools and spas’).
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Section 2: The types of pools used in active leisure facilities
Section 2: The types of pools used in
active leisure facilities
The range of pools used in the active leisure sector includes:
• Swimming pools (indoor and outdoor).
• Hydrotherapy pools (aquatic therapy).
• School pools.
• Health and fitness club pools.
• Spa pools.
The main purposes of the pools used in the active leisure sector are summarised in table 2.1. The temperature of a pool
is critical for ensuring it is operating to its intended function and purpose (see section 7).
TYPE OF POOL
Swimming pools. • Competitive swimming and diving.
• Fitness swimming.
Recreational swimming pools, adult teaching, and
conventional main pools.
• Adult teaching.
Leisure pools. • Enjoyment.
• Water-based play.
Pools operating at slightly higher temperatures. • Children’s teaching.
• Used by babies, young children and those with a
Hydrotherapy pools. • Found in schools, hospitals and hospices.
• Aquatic therapy, physiotherapy, etc.
• These pools operate at higher temperatures than
Spa pools. • Relaxation.
• Found in many locations, including hotels and
Hot tubs. • Domestic spa pools used for relaxation.
• Often found in holiday and lodge parks.
Counter-current/exercise pools. • Small pools with a mechanically derived current
against which users can swim.
Birthing pools. • Small pools in which women can choose to give
• Subject to strong bacteriological control.
Hotel pools. • Used by hotel guests and club members.
Paddling pools. • Outdoor paddling pools of shallow water.
Plunge pools. • Used for cooling down after exercise.
School pools. • Often smaller pools used for swimming lessons.
• Sometimes used by community and other groups at
evenings and weekends.
Table 2.1 Main types of pool and their purposes
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Section 3: Pool water pollution
Section 3: Pool water pollution
The causes of pool water pollution can be separated into three categories:
• Physical pollutants.
• Chemical pollutants.
• Biological pollutants.
The common denominator of all these forms of pollution is the bathers themselves.
Pollution added by bathers
Bathers introduce all three types of pollution to the pool water: physical, chemical and biological. Each day, an adult
produces 1 litre of sweat, 1 billion skin flakes and 38g of grease (SPW). It is also estimated that each bather releases
approximately 30ml of urine and 200mg of urea in a typical swim session. When a bather is exercising, they also
release a significant amount of sweat; this increases in line with pool water temperature.
In addition, the human body carries numerous chemicals in the form of cosmetics, deodorants, powders, creams,
lotions, oils, etc., all of which add further pollution to the water.
Outdoor pools located in warm climates experience a significant problem caused by suntan lotion and sweat added by
The types of pollution can be further classified as:
• Surface pollution.
• Dissolved pollution.
• Suspended pollution.
• Insoluble pollution.
The pollution can be found in various places in the pool itself (as illustrated in figure 3.1).
Figure 3.1 Pollution distribution
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Section 4: The importance of good hygiene prior to pool use
Point 1: Changing room floors must be kept clean
by regular scrubbing and mopping.
Point 2: Bathers should be encouraged to use the
toilets prior to swimming.
Point 3: All bathers must be encouraged to shower
prior to swimming in order to remove bacteria, sweat,
Point 4: Avoid poolside contamination by
encouraging the use of over-shoes. Pool surrounds to
be thoroughly scrubbed.
Figure 4.1 The four-point plan for good pool hygiene
End of section: Learning check
Answer the following questions and make notes to revise this section.
• What methods are adopted at your pool in order to encourage bathers to engage in pre-swim hygiene?
• List three benefits for the pool operator of having an effective pre-swim hygiene regime.
• List three benefits for the bather of having an effective pre-swim hygiene regime.
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Section 6: The pool water circulation system
Section 6: The pool water circulation
In order for swimming pool water to stay safe and clear, it needs to flow through a series of processes (see figure 6.1).
Note: not all pools
have a balance tank
A surface draw-off system removes the
surface water, and water leaves the bottom of
the pool through sump outlets. In deck level
pools, the water is then fed into a balance
Figure 6.1 Pool water circulation system
The balance tank (figure 6.2) accommodates
the water displaced by bathers. The balance
tank also provides a means of introducing
water into the system to replace water used
to wash the filters.
Figure 6.2 A balance tank
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Section 1: The tests needed to ensure pool water quality
The traditional method of pool water testing for pH and chlorine uses a comparator. This is a very simple piece of
equipment where the test sample containing the reagent dye is compared against a circular disc of different coloured
pieces of glass.
Ideally, the comparator should be fitted with a portable back-light which provides good quality white light to accentuate
the colours, or it should be viewed against a bench-mounted white light source.
Figure 1.2 A comparator
The comparator should be used with the disc appropriate to the test being carried out: a pH disc (phenol red), a chlorine
disc or a disc which measures bromine levels.
If the comparator is viewed against a white light source, a more accurate result will be given.
Figure 1.3 Chlorine, pH and bromine discs
Using a comparator to measure pH
Select the phenol red disc and insert it into the comparator. Ensure it is installed the correct way, with the
numbers in the right hand corner of the comparator.
Add a 10ml sample of water to the left hand test tube.
Take a second clean test tube containing 10ml of water and crush a phenol red tablet into it.
Insert the test tube containing the phenol red dye into the right hand side of the comparator.
Revolve the comparator disc until the colours match. The reading can be found in the bottom right hand
window of the comparator.
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Section 1: The tests needed to ensure pool water quality
Total alkalinity and calcium hardness
We will be discussing the significance of the total alkalinity and calcium hardness tests in
unit 4, but here we will look at how these factors can be measured.
In the case of the photometer, some of the multi-function instruments will measure both
of these parameters simply by the addition of tablets and following the manufacturer’s
Figure 1.7 Total alkalinity test using a photometer
Colour change method
It is also possible to carry out a simple test based on a sample of 50ml of pool water –
reagent tablets are simply added to the sample until a colour change occurs. In the case
of total alkalinity, the colour the pool operator is looking for is deep pink or red, depending
on the nature of the water.
The operator needs to count the number of tablets it takes for the colour change to occur. In
the case of a 50ml sample, each tablet has a value of 40mg/l. After the number of tablets
has been determined, this number multiplied by 40 and then corrected by the subtraction
of 20 from the end result.
Figure 1.8 Total alkalinity test using 50ml sample – colour change method
A sample requires 5 tablets to achieve the colour change.
5 x 40mg/l = 200mg/l
200mg/l – 20 (correction factor) = 180mg/l
Total alkalinity = 180mg/l
When measuring incoming mains water, it may be useful to measure total alkalinity
using a 100ml sample, in which case the formula is adjusted to 20mg/l for each tablet
value and the correction factor is 10.
Calcium hardness is tested in exactly the same way, but the operator is looking for a violet
Figure 1.9 Calcium hardness test using 50ml sample – colour change method
Total dissolved solids
Levels of total dissolved solids (TDS) are measured using an electronic TDS tester. Best
practice recommendations suggest that TDS levels should be no higher than 1000mg/l
more than the incoming mains water.
Figure 1.10 Typical TDS tester
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