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Guidance: Access and Egress to Swimming Pools

Sep 22, 2023


Unrestricted access to a swimming pool can expose non-swimmers and other vulnerable persons to a risk to their health and safety. Swimming pool operators should restrict access to the swimming pool using a variety of methods including barriers, gates, turnstiles, fencing and/or a clear admissions policy. Operators of outdoor swimming pools in large public spaces should also take additional care to prevent unauthorised access and use of the swimming pool by those who might seek to enter it out of hours, such as teenagers and young adults. Additional care to control or prevent access to a swimming pool should be taken when construction work is taking place. 



  • EN 15288-2:2018 Swimming pools for public use. Part 2 safety requirements for operation. 
  • ISO 21542:2011, Building construction. Accessibility and usability of the built environment. 
  • ISO 21902:2021. Tourism and related services — Accessible tourism for all — Requirements and recommendations. 
  • HSE. 2018. Health and safety in swimming pools. HSG179, 4th edition. 
  • HSE. 2013. Workplace health, safety and welfare. ACOP. L24, second edition.
  • Building Regulations. 2015. Approved Document M (amended 2020). 



The following hazards may be present in an unguarded swimming pool: 

  • Drowning due to unsupervised access to deep water by non-swimmers and young children. 
  • Entrapment due to unsupervised access to the pool when pool covers are deployed.  
  • Trip and falls due to inadequate lighting and poor housekeeping when not in use. 


Control measures

The following control measures are typical for a swimming pool when out of use: 

  • Provision of child-proof gates and fencing to prevent access to the pool. 
  • Provision of CCTV and signage advertising its use to deter intruders. 
  • Deployment of pool covers to limit access to the pool water. 
  • Deployment of water disturbance alarms, gate and/or intruder alarms to alert the pool operator of potential out-of-hours use. 
  • Locking turnstiles when the pool is not in use. 
  • Provision of signs stating the pool is not in use. 
  • Provision and advertisement of a clear and concise admissions policy in line with industry guidance. 
  • Good housekeeping practices before the swimming pool is left unsupervised and when in use.  
  • Provision of pool hoists and Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans to provide safe access for people with additional access needs. 
  • Clear emergency lighting and signage for emergency egress from the building. 


Citation. Jacklin, D. 2023. Guidance: Access and Egress to Swimming Pools. Water Incident Research Hub, 22 September.