Indoor swimming pools and spas
Indoor swimming pools and spas must fulfil the relevant safety requirements and draw up a safety document, among other things.
This page complements the Tukes Guide 1/2015 ‘Uimahallien ja kylpylöiden turvallisuuden edistäminen’ (in Finnish) on promoting the safety of swimming pools and spas. The common safety responsibilities of all service providers have also been described elsewhere.
Documents in order
Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spas and water parks must draw up a safety document. A safety document must also be drawn up for the pool areas of hotels, camping centres and care institutions, if they are used for swimming by the general public, water aerobics, baby swimming, or similar private consumption.
External service providers operating in the swimming pool, such as the organisers of baby swimming or water aerobics, must draw up a safety document for their own service. The safety document of the service should refer to the swimming pool’s general safety document with regard to the premises and general safety instructions, for example. In particular, the service provider must ensure that the water rescue capabilities during the service are sufficient.
It is not necessary to draw up a safety document for activities offered by associations to their members, because the Consumer Safety Act does not apply to such activities. For example, swimming coaching offered by a swimming club to its members is not a consumer service; in this case, the swimming club is not a service provider and therefore a safety document is not needed for the service offered to the members.
You can use Tukes’ instructions and tools to identify risks. You should take especially the following issues into account in identifying risks:
- Sinking under water and drowning
- Slipping in the pool or washing facilities
- Risks related to the places for diving, water slides, inflatable obstacle courses and other special structures
- The number of users as well as special groups, such as children who do not know how to swim, the elderly, people from different cultures, enthusiasts of different kinds of water sports.
There must be a sufficient number of lifeguards present in the pool area as long as there are customers there. The number of lifeguards depends on the features of the pool area and the number of users. The issue has been discussed in more detail in the Tukes Guide 1/2015 ‘Uimahallien ja kylpylöiden turvallisuuden edistäminen’ (in Finnish) on promoting the safety of swimming pools and spas.
The duties of a lifeguard include monitoring the customers and the safety of the pool and auxiliary areas. In addition to water rescue, lifeguards must promote safety by maintaining public order, instructing the swimming pool users, addressing risky behaviour and monitoring the condition of structures and the cleanliness of the public swimming pool. During their supervision shift, lifeguards must not be assigned any tasks, such as selling tickets, leading water aerobics sessions or taking care of a cafeteria, that would hinder their ability to maintain safety. The lifeguards’ deputies and statutory breaks must be arranged so that the level of monitoring remains sufficient.
A lifeguard’s sufficient rescue skills cannot be achieved by completing a lifeguard’s swimming test and a first aid course alone.
There are no separately defined requirements on lifeguards concerning qualifications or degrees. Lifeguards must
- know how to prevent dangerous situations in their work (by providing guidance for customers and dealing with any dangerous conduct);
- know how to identify a drowning person;
- know how to use different types of rescue equipment;
- know how to administer first aid and take further action;
- be able to complete the lifeguard’s swimming test;
- have water rescue and first aid skills;
- be able to rescue people at their workplace; in practice, they must be able to rescue a person under water from the most challenging location at their workplace, such as the bottom of the deepest pool, and give them first aid;
- have received training regarding their work area’s special characteristics and safety practices (including the safety document, the most typical hazards in the area, and ways to call for help); and
- be familiar with water safety requirements
- be of age.
Sufficient lifeguard skills can be acquired by completing optional lifeguard studies under a physical education instructor’s basic degree, a lifeguard course or an international lifeguard course. A person may also otherwise demonstrate and prove to their employer that they have sufficient rescue skills (water rescue and first aid skills). The skills must be maintained through continuous training.
A lifeguard cannot be replaced by camera surveillance at indoor swimming pools, spas and other large sites. At small sites, such as hotel swimming pools, the monitoring can be implemented by only cameras in certain circumstances (‘Uimahallien ja kylpylöiden turvallisuuden edistäminen’, Tukes Guide 1/2015 (in Finnish) on promoting the safety of swimming pools and spas). In that case, it is particularly important to ensure that a person with sufficient rescue skills monitors the camera feed and that they can get to the pool area quickly, if necessary.
Safety requirements concerning indoor swimming pools and spas are defined in the following standards. The standards can be ordered from the Finnish Standards Association SFS
- SFS-EN 13451 Swimming pool equipment
- SFS-EN 1069 Water slides