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UKAA Webinar: Managing Risk in Leisure Facilities Presented by motive8 & PIB

Thursday 16th July 2020

As everybody starts returning to ‘normal’ life following the slow release of UK’s lockdown, the day to day responsibilities within property management are slowly returning back to how they used to be. The biggest difference now compared to pre-lockdown is the obvious COVID-19 measures now in place across the country.

In a recent webinar we discussed a variety of topics specific to managing risk in leisure facilities, including those specific to COVID-19, which is as we all know is the main topic of conversation at the moment.

Our webinar was broken down into four distinct areas:

  1. Day to day management and maintenance responsibilities
  2. Internal checks and documentation
  3. Emergency response and procedures
  4. Covid-19 and what this means for leisure facilities

Rob Clarke, Head of Operations – motive8

Adam Wake, Risk Manager – PIB Risk Management


Read write-up

1. Day to day management and maintenance responsibilities




The topics discussed under management were relating to the day to day activities of your facilities, looking at how the facilities are monitored, either by physical inspection or CCTV. We also discussed the areas that can be forgotten about sometimes, such as sauna’s and steam rooms or even changing facilities. It is important that if rules are put in place, these are adhered to by the residents and guests and enforced by the management team.


Another area we discussed was access control and how/when residents are given access and what further controls, and rules should be put in place. Inductions form a key part of this as it puts you as the operator on the front foot when it comes to communicating rules and the terms of use.


Finally, it is also important to effectively manage any third party contractors such as swimming teachers and personal trainers ensuring that they have the relevant insurances and qualifications.




Maintenance is a key aspect when trying to get the most out of your equipment, having stringent and regimented maintenance procedures could save you thousands of pounds. Not having maintenance procedures in place could lead to a shorter life span of equipment, especially if it is used regularly, such as a running machine or a cross trainer.


Pool water testing is an essential part of any maintenance regime. Along with this though, the items below are just a few of the periodical items which require specific maintenance at certain times throughout the year.

  • Filters
  • Balance tanks
  • UV Filters
  • Dosing Lines & pumps
  • PAC


The frequency of maintenance servicing depends largely on usage as this is linked to chemical use, water dilution, longevity of plant among other items. All pools should really be backwashed every week, 2 at most so that is a good place to start when considering how often maintenance should be carried out.


When considering cleaning around a pool, it is essential that the chemicals used are safe to be in a swimming as there is no doubt they will end up in the water at some point. Most chemical manufacturers will be able to advise if a chemical is pool safe, in some circumstances it is detailed on the COSHH data sheet too.

2. Internal checks and documentation


Undertaking internal visual and documented checks is a vital aspect alongside preventative maintenance and the management of your facilities. Undertaking documented checks of your facilities will help in identifying things such as poor housekeeping, health and safety hazards such as pinned open fire doors, damaged pool ladders, splinters in your pool seating etc. It is also important to document all the checks that you are making, this will be your defence if something ever went wrong and could be the difference in successfully defending a claim against your business.


Another aspect to ensure you consider is alcohol and drug misuse. Although this is something that can be difficult to identify, any employees responsible for these facilities should have a vigilance about them to look out for anyone that may be under the influence.

 3. Emergency response and procedures


This section applies mainly to facilities with a swimming pool, but still has relevance to all aspects of leisure facilities.


Having an emergency response in place is vital for all leisure facilities. Similarly to a fire emergency evacuation plan, an emergency procedure for assisting an injured person in a gym or a person drowning in a pool, it may never happen (hopefully it doesn’t), but having a plan in place that all employees are aware of and is periodically tested is so important. As the individuals either managing the facilities or having ultimate responsibility of what is in place, you have a duty of care to the users of the facilities.


The reason for having an emergency response in place is not to prevent something going wrong, but to have a plan in place if it ever does go wrong. Accidents happen and ensuring that your employees or external leisure management team can respond efficiently when it does go wrong could be the difference between life and death when it comes to a pool.




The ramifications of it going wrong aren’t just a slap on the wrist, especially when it does involve a pool. In the past year there have been 2 cases in the news, one in a David Lloyd facility and another in the Costa Del Sol (news articles provided below). With a death you will have the HSE involved, the police, the bereaved family and friends, employees off work, civil / criminal court proceedings, fines, the list can be endless.


Below are a couple of examples in recent months where that has been a death in a pool, one in a David Lloyd facility and another abroad in the Costa Del Sol.


David Lloyd

Dad of boy, 3, who drowned in David Lloyd pool says death could have been prevented


Costa Del Sol

Spain’s Costa Del Sol Swimming Pool Death Investigation Reveals New Findings

4. Covid-19 and what this means for leisure facilities


There is extensive guidance on the government website in relation to the opening of leisure facilities in England, the below is a snippet of this and what to consider when re-opening and operating under the new guidance. Not all need to be followed but should provide some ideas on how to safely allow residents to start to use the facilities again.


General use of the facilities


  • Social Distancing
  • Booking systems
    • Limits maximum users in the gym at any one time to safe levels
    • Limit the number of uses per week if necessary
    • Assist with test and trace
    • 45 minute session followed by 15 minutes for cleaning
    • Equipment MUST be cleaned between uses
  • Increased and intensified cleaning regimes
    • Cleaning between usage sessions – all touch points, not just equipment
    • Additional cleaning overnight
  • Guest Policy
    • Advise that no guests/PTs are permitted
  • Water machines can be used to refill bottles only


Pool and Spas


  • Use of lane ropes to segregate pool space
  • Adequate chlorine dosage
  • Changing facilities
    • Taping off toilets, lockers, sink etc
    • Maximum capacity
    • Increased cleaning regimes
  • Sauna and steam rooms
    • Keep closed – too high risk!


A quote from the PWTAG guidance on re-opening pools amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Whilst the risk of transmission of Covid-19 remains, the operating pH for your pool water should be reduced to between 7.0 to 7.4 and ideally maintained between 7.0 to 7.2. The free chlorine concentrations should also be raised to at least 1.5 mg/l and ideally at the top of the recommended range for your pool”




  • Spacing of gym equipment
    • Space kit so users are 2m apart or place out of use
    • Studios can be used for equipment if no classes are being run
    • Take group exercise classes outside if possible
    • Group inductions should be limited
  • Maximum user numbers should be established and communicated
  • One Way systems
    • One way route around the gym to reduce interaction between persons
  • Wipe before and after use
  • Absolute necessity, non-negotiable
  • Equipment to be wiped before and after use
  • Spray and tissue or wet wipes (wet wipes beneficial as bottle is shared)


Extra things to consider


  • Air conditioning
  • Fresh air supply only
  • Does it share air-con with an adjacent building?
  • Evacuation and first aid response
  • Temporarily suspend fire drills of communal areas if any are in place – too high risk!
  • Increased risk with first aiders attending to injured persons
  • Legionella
  • Flush all water systems when re-opening
  • Are there any water tanks in your building?
  • Emptying of spa pools and refilling
  • Clean and descale showers
  • Common touch points
  • What doors can be pinned open? (NOT fire doors)
  • Increased cleaning to include light switches, door handles, taps, toilet chains, kettle, toaster, microwave, printers, scanners etc.


To conclude


There can be a lot to managing leisure facilities and the risks associated can be serious, but if the correct management system and procedures are in place the risks can be drastically reduced.


If you require any assistance to identify the areas that you need to address or need help with making your facilities COVID-19 secure, please just get in touch. Whether it be a physical audit of your facilities and paperwork or assistance with putting together risk assessments and procedures, PIB and motive8 would be more than happy to help.



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