Are you doing enough to tackle water safety?

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) Consultancy Services is urging  local authorities and leisure operators to make all bodies of water safe.

Most victims of accidental drownings never intended to enter the water in the first place. The most recent published figures from the National Water Safety Forum (2020) show that most drownings occurred while people were walking or running next to water.

This is a sobering reminder of why it is imperative to ensure that any body of water organisations are responsible for, from rivers and lakes to ponds and reservoirs, is made safe for those who can access it - from employees and visitors to members of the public.

The RLSS UK has provided clear, impartial, and practical water safety advice and expertise for more than 130 years and can help organisations to manage water safety to help them meet their obligations under the Health & Safety Act.

In January, there was pressure on the UK Government and Parliament to make risk assessments of all bodies of water (natural and man-made) mandatory. This was part of a debate on the addition of throwline stations around open bodies of water following the death of 18-year-old Mark Allen, who drowned in 2018 after jumping into a reservoir on a hot summer day. The following May, three throwlines were installed where he died. Mark could have possibly been saved if they were in place beforehand. The Government response on 1 July 2021 included: “This tragic loss of life highlights the importance of the landowner's responsibility to assess and act on the risks posed by open bodies of water on their land.”

Solutions could include training, operational planning, installing signage and public rescue equipment.

Employers and the self-employed whose activities are close to open water must also take the correct steps to prevent employees and other people from coming to harm due to their work activities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

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