Looking for something else?

What is constant poolside supervision?

Dec 30, 2021


What is constant poolside supervision? 

Constant poolside supervision requires: 

  • A requirement for the physical presence of a lifeguard on the poolside. 
  • A responsibility to supervise a designated zone of the pool. 
  • A continuing duty to provide supervision, rescue or recover a casualty until a lifeguard changeover is completed or the pool is closed. 


When is constant poolside supervision used? 

Constant poolside supervision is the supervision type of choice for unprogrammed or mixed (i.e. programmed and unprogrammed) sessions. See our article on 'do I need a lifeguard?' for further information on whether constant poolside supervision is required. 


What are the features of constant poolside supervision? 

Key features include many of those which are also features of unprogrammed sessions: 

  • Variable numbers of pool users throughout the session render head counting ineffective at alerting lifeguards to missing persons and prompting their intervention. 
  • The maximum number of pool users permitted in the session will likely be substantially higher than in programmed sessions. 
  • The number of pool users per lifeguard will likely be substantially higher than in programmed sessions. 
  • The lifeguard is not responsible for directing the activity undertaken by the pool users, only to intervene where the activity is not permitted by pool rules or results in danger to a pool user or those around them. 
  • The lifeguard may supervise from a highchair, patrolling position, or move between the methods to respond to changing conditions. 


When is constant poolside supervision required? 

Constant poolside supervision is required when the operator risk assessment determines that it is reasonably practicable to provide constant poolside supervision to sufficiently mitigate the risk of exposing a pool user to harm. We have summarised when constant poolside supervision is needed in a separate article

One of the risks a pool user may be exposed to when accessing a swimming pool is drowning. Still, there are others, such as colliding with the pool bottom or other equipment, falling from the poolside, and respiratory and skin effects from chemical exposure. An operator exposes a pool user to these risks by providing access to the pool and how it manages and administers its facility. 

Suppose standard industry practice, provisions from guidance, industry report conclusions, or published research recommend the provision of constant poolside supervision for a particular operator context. In that case, the operator should consider themselves on notice of the risk. In such circumstances, it will likely be reasonably practicable to provide constant poolside supervision, and the operator will need to produce a substantial justification if it decides not to provide constant poolside supervision. 


What is the alternative to constant poolside supervision?

If you are not required to provide constant poolside supervision, then remote supervision is the alternative available to you. 


Citation: Jacklin, D. 2021. What is constant poolside supervision? Water Incident Research Hub, 28 December.