Safety Alert

Supervision at aquatic venues

This Safety Alert highlights the importance of having systems of work in place to provide appropriate supervision of young patrons (children) at aquatic venues.

Print or download a PDF version of this document Date Published: February 2015 Keycode: ALE0182/01/02.15 Division Author:


In recent years there have been a number of near drowning incidents at aquatic venues involving children and a lack of appropriate supervision.

Near drowning incidents can occur where there is a breakdown of direct supervision (including where supervision requirements are not clearly articulated or enforced), and may occur at public or privately owned aquatic venues, including those that run swimming programs for children.

Safe systems of work for supervision of young patrons

Employers or self-employed persons operating aquatic venues have a general duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that persons (including children) at their facility are not exposed to health or safety risks arising from the operation of the facility. Safe supervision of children is an important element of maintaining a safe environment.

Systems of work (procedures) for the supervision of children at aquatic venues should be documented and clearly articulated by operators to those involved in the process (for example, lifeguards, swimming instructors and parents/guardians). Procedures for supervision should address the following matters:

  • ensuring children are supervised at all times (including before and after swim lessons and during handover) 
  • what steps will be taken if a parent/guardian is not in attendance or unable to supervise their child
  • how parental supervision requirements (for example, requiring the parent/guardian to be within arm's reach of their child) are to be communicated and enforced
  • how lifeguard and instructor supervision duties are to be monitored 
  • ensuring supervision ratios are appropriate and/or in accordance with any recommendations made by, for example, the Australian

Royal Life Saving Society (having regard to matters such as, layout of the facility, lines of sight, visibility concerns such as glare, lighting and pool bottom colours, and the impact of inflatables, waterslides and other activities).

Relevant information and signage about supervision should be displayed prominently and readily available in languages other than English.

Further information

  • Guide to Safe Pool Operation (GSPO), Royal Life Saving Society - Australia


This Alert contains information following the WorkSafe'sinquiries into the incident at the date of this report. The information contained in this report does not necessarily reflect the final outcome of WorkSafe's action with respect to this incident. WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this report is complete or up-to-date, and does not accept any liability to any person for the information in this report, or its use.