Clear Building Management sets out some key safety areas to consider if you have leisure facilities in your development.
Large blocks and developments come with their own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to more complex building management requirements such as leisure facilities and their maintenance.
Swimming pools and wet areas
Though often greatly enjoyed by residents, swimming pools can quickly become a management headache if they aren’t adequately maintained. For instance, though not always visible to the naked eye, nasty germs and bacteria thrive in a swimming pool environment. Pool water therefore needs regular testing and treatment to ensure it is safe to use and free from harmful microbes such as legionella, the cause of Legionnaires’ disease.
Specific precautions should be taken with swimming pool chemicals. They should be kept upright in a well ventilated and locked store, kept well clear from direct sunlight and must be correctly and clearly labelled. Pool staff must be suitably trained to carry out tests and know what action is required if chemicals do not meet recommended levels.
Around the clock supervision will always be the best assurance of pool users’ safety. However, if you have conducted a risk assessment and are confident that constant poolside supervision is not necessary, then a clear written safety plan must be displayed in changing rooms, pool entrances and poolside. This plan should make it clear that the pool is not supervised and provide rules of use for residents.
Pools should also have signs clearly showing the depth of water (especially at the deep and shallow ends), a poolside alarm that is regularly checked, plus easily accessible rescue equipment that is suitable for the size and type of pool – such as poles, throwing ropes and buoyancy aids – with instructions for use.
For pools that do need constant poolside supervision, a sufficient number of certified lifeguards should be provided. But even if the pool does not need continuous supervision, a member of staff trained in pool rescue, resuscitation techniques and first aid must be designated as on call at all times when the pool is available for use.
Health and safety risks
Increasingly popular in residential developments, saunas and steam rooms also run the risk of causing injury if not properly used or maintained.
To help mitigate against potential risks, sauna and steam room floors should be constructed of a non-slip material, a thermometer gauge must be present and visible, and sauna doors must have an internal handle to allow users to exit the room when required. A clock should also be visible so users can monitor time elapsed in the sauna, and there must be a non-verbal alarm system linked to a manned reception area for summoning help when users are left unattended.
Saunas and steam rooms can pose a relatively high fire risk because of the presence of timber construction, combined with high operating temperatures that are typically achieved by electric heaters. Sauna heaters must therefore be maintained regularly in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations by a competent contractor, and should be included in planned maintenance schedules.
With gyms in residential blocks, there is often an issue of ensuring the onus for safe usage is passed to the user. All equipment must also be properly maintained and inspected.
You must do what is “reasonably practicable” to reduce risk. This can be having measures like ensuring there are adequate instructions and advice about using equipment, sanitising products available, or using non-slip yoga mats.
Some other questions you might want to consider if you have a gym at your development include:
- Would you allow personal trainers to work with their clients at the gym?
- How do you ensure fair use of the facilities?
- How much cleaning is required to keep them at an acceptable standard throughout the day?
- How do you manage safety during the early morning and after work usage peaks?
The pandemic, of course, has added in an additional host of factors to consider when managing leisure facilities. For example, you might need to think about implementing a rota or booking system to manage social distancing requirements – not just at gyms, but at all leisure facilities on the block.
Expert staff, good maintenance
To ensure each of your leisure facilities are running smoothly, it is always essential to have specialist expertise, knowledgeable staff, excellent contractor and supplier relationships, and a good maintenance programme.
Managing agents should maintain an effective rolling programme of repair and maintenance works. This keeps the development in good condition and can identify and prevent potentially expensive issues before they occur.
Clear has a tonne of expertise and experience in managing big developments with extensive and complex leisure facilities. If you would like more information, please get in touch.
This article first appeared in Flat Living Magazine. Click here to view the article.