New GSPO’s Supporting Responsible Design

The new ‘Safe Design’ guideline has taken steps to better document and communicate the health and safety responsibilities of those tasked with commissioning, designing and building Aquatic Facilities. It is hoped that by doing so, the physical design of future Facilities will better support long term operational safety, rather than be a hinderance to it.

There is currently an unbalance of form and function at some new Facilities, resulting from a failure to understand key operational factors. An example is supervision, which continues to become more difficult and more expensive as a result of some current facility design principles.

This unbalance goes against a long held GSPO recommendation whereby “The layout of the water spaces should allow for supervision with a minimum of staff.  Ideally there should be one or two specific vantage points from which all water spaces can be seen.” (GSPO 5.5.1).

If this guideline isn’t adhered to subsequent guidelines also become less likely to be adhered to. Using the same supervision example, if you are unable to identify key vantage points enabling good lines of sight you are also unlikely to ensure “The layout of the pool concourse should enable supervising staff to move around freely without losing visual contact with water areas.” (GSPO 5.5.4).

There are a range of other examples, whereby facility design decisions are inherently reducing the operational safety standards which can be achieved. A few examples include concourse widths, emergency access and egress, seating options, adjoining pools and equipment storage.

The new guideline highlights these challenges and provides guidance and solutions. The guidelines compliment the ‘Swimming Pool Design’ and ‘Facility Design’ guidelines and is a must read for anybody looking at developing or redeveloping an Aquatic Facility. It provides a useful and practical framework and clearly sets out the ‘Safe Design’ definition, challenge and obligations, as well as a checklist ensuring no part of the Facility is forgotten.

The Definition

GSPO. 1.3.1. “Safe design means the integration of control measures early in the design process to eliminate or, if this is not reasonable practicable, minimise risks to health and safety throughout the life of the structure being designed.”

The Challenge

GSPO 1.3.2. “The safe design of an aquatic facility will always be part of a wider set of design objectives, including practicability, aesthetics, cost and functionality. These sometimes competing objectives, need to be balanced in a manner that does not compromise the health and safety of those who work on or use the aquatic facility over its life.”

The Obligations

GSPO 1.3.4. “An owner or operator of an aquatic facility has the primary duty under state and territory WHS legislation and regulation to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks a rising from the business or undertaking.”

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