Airlie Beach drowning prompts WHS advice

Monday, 17 December, 2018

Airlie Beach drowning prompts WHS advice

The Airlie Beach drowning of a father and son in October has prompted Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) to issue some timely advice to aquatic industry operators and workers. Though the incident is still under investigation, it appears that both father and son — holidaying here from overseas — got into difficulty in the lagoon’s deeper water area.

WHSQ said that focus should be on preventing a similar incident, as these environments present many characteristics than can contribute to increased risk.

Public swimming pools and beach lagoons present a number of health and safety hazards, including those which increase the risk of drowning, such as:

  • large bodies of water with a large number of people using them at the same time
  • the presence of children and adults with varying levels of swimming experience
  • pool depths that change suddenly without signage
  • the presence of personal buoyancy devices (floaties, tubes) or large water-borne inflatable devices permanently or semi-permanently located in pools for common use (slides, bouncing castles, line ropes) which may impair the vision of adults or those supervising pool activities
  • the design or construction of the pool obstructing the line of sight of supervisors.

A pool or beach lagoon operator must manage health and safety risks by:

  • providing adequately trained lifesavers, supervisors and first aid officers
  • ensuring young people or people with limited swimming competency, such as children, are accompanied by adults who provide supervision
  • prohibiting and monitoring activities such as diving and running
  • providing information or signage about pool safety (eg, accompanying adults to supervise their children, prohibited activities, pool depth)
  • removing or prohibiting the use of permanent or semi-permanent flotation devices when there is no supervision of their use.

WHSQ publishes some useful information on managing risks for operators, which can be downloaded here. More information is available on the website.

Image credit: ©

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