Summary of changes to the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operaitons
Please reload


On September 1 2016, the Guidelines will begin to represent a fundamental shift in thinking and undergo one of its most significant changes since its inception. This will be done in an attempt to drive a more industry led and risk management approach to safety in the Aquatic Environment.


Most notably this will begin with the release of the new Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations but will also incorporate a concentrated effort to increase collaboration, share lessons learnt and provide support to Governments, Businesses and Aquatic Facilities and thier staff in implementing the changes.


Led by the establishment of a National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee with broad representation from accross the Aquatic Industry the Guidelines will see a new look, feel and approach that will gradually be implemented over the next 2-3 years.


In July 1996, almost 20 years ago, Royal Life Saving Society of Australia published the first edition of the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operation to help Aquatic Facilities minimise the risk of drowning deaths and injuries. The GSPO has served the industry well and in return the industry has done a great job in reducing its aquatic risks. However since this time tragedy still occurs.


They are news headline like that none of us wants to hear when we wake up in the morning but fortunately it stands as a current reminder of the ever present cloud that hangs over our shoulders to ensure that we must maintain our robust process but also improve with the changing times.

Between 2004/05 and 2014/15, 137 persons died as a result of drowning in Non Residential Swimming Pools with a further 96 deaths occuring at public aquatic facilities from other related causes.  In a controlled environment with constant supervision the need to be vigilant is still an ever pressing issue that challenges the best of our owners and operators of aquatic facilities on a daily basis


As of September 1 2016 a new Guidelines Subscription Policy will come into place for the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations. A summary of the key changes are as follows:

Annual Subscriptions

All subscriptions will be valid for a 12month basis beginning on the September 1 each year and finishing on the 31st of August the following year. Persons who subscribe three(3) or more months prior to the August 31 (May 30th) will be required to renew their subscription on the 1st of September and paythe subscription fee for another 12 months.

Printed Copies

As of September 1 2016 RLSSA and its state/territory member organisations will not be offering or printing Hard Copy  Versions of the Guidelines in accordance with the new Subscription Policy endorsed by the National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee

All Guidelines will be available online via Mobile, Tablet and Desktop platforms and will be regularly reviewed and updated


The Guidelines have not had a price increase in almost a decade. A new pricing structure will come into place for all new subscribers which will include the following:


  • All new subscriptions will be $99 per year and will have an annual CPI increase

  • Subscription will include access to all Guidelines and an extensive range of supporting materials for the Aquatic Industry


At is first meeting of 2016, the National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee endorsed to proceed with a new framework for the management of the Guidelines.


The new framework will eventually phase out the following individual guideline documents and merge them into a revamped Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations.

The existing guidelines which will be phased out are:

  • Guidelines for Hotels, Motels, Camping and Caravan Parks

  • Guidelines for Body Corporate Pools

  • Guidelines for Commercial Learn to Swim and School Pools

The new Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations will include the following sections:

  • Aquatic Risk Management

  • Emergency Management

  • Aquatic Facilities

  • Aquatic Amusement Devices

  • Aquatic Safety Signage

  • Aquatic Supervision

  • Aquatic Safety Equipment


The Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations are broken down into topical sections (i.e. Aquatic Risk Management). Each of the Key sections includes important information about the guidelines in the opening pages. A summary of the key features are:


Document Management

Each of the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations are managed in accordance with the Document Management Procedures within the National Aquatic Industry Safety Policy


Each section of the Guidelines undergo a 2 stage process of Authorisation supported by a Validation Checklist.


When there are changes to the document the latest amendments will be detailed here

Document Register

Each of the Latest Version of the Guidelines will be listed here with their Version, Issue Date and Effective as of Date


The Guidelines in any of their format were last updated in 2010 and prior to that 2007. Since this time there have been some significant changes in Legislation, Regulation, Australian Standards, Research, Policy and the practices of the Aquatic Industry. Below is an executive summary of the key changes and how they will influence the design and development of the Guidelines.

​​Australian Qualifications Framework

Throughout the suite of Guidelines references have been made to organisational awards (i.e. RLSSA Pool Lifeguard Award). Over the past 5 years the Aquatic industry has moved heavily into the Australian Qualification Framework and many of these awards are now recognised as individual competencies, skill sets or Qualifications.

The National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee has agreed that in its review of the Guidelines all references to organisational awards would be removed and only individual competencies, skill sets or qualifications would be referenced.

Workplace Health and Safety

The model work health and safety laws consist of the Model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, supported by model WHS regulations, model Codes of Practice and a National Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

The model work health and safety laws are the basis for harmonised laws across Australia. For the model work health and safety laws to become legally binding they need to be enacted or passed by Parliament in each jurisdiction. Under the Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety all jurisdictions have committed to adopting the model work health and safety legislation, with minor variations as necessary to ensure it is consistent with relevant drafting protocols and other laws and processes operating within the jurisdiction.

See Jurisdictional progress on the model work health and safety laws for information on the work health and safety regulators’ progress in implementing the new laws.

​​Disability Discrimination (Legislation, regulation and best practice)

The Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (D.D.A.) provides protection for everyone in Australia against discrimination based on disability. It encourages everyone to be involved in implementing the Act and to share in the overall benefits to the community and the economy that flow from participation by the widest range of people.

The National Aquatic industry Safety Committee has taken a strong approach to ensu that aquatic facilities can adopt a best practice approach in terms of access to aquatic facilities, participation in aquatic activities and protection against discrimination throughout many of  the guidelines.

Changes to Australian Standards

Over the past 5 years a number of Australian Standards and/or International Standards have been either reviewed or newly developed. The changes to the Guidelines reflects these changes. Some of the key changes include:

  • AS 1319-1994 Safety Signs for the Occupational Environment

  • AS 1428.1-2009 Design for Access and Mobility – General Requirements for Access-   New  Building Work

  • AS/NZS 1680.0-2009 Interior Lighting – Safe Movement

  • AS/NZS 1900-2014 Flotation Aids for Water Familiarization and Swimming Tuition

  • AS 1926.1-2012 Swimming Pool Safety – Safety Barriers for Swimming Pools

  • AS 1926.3-2010 Swimming Pool Safety - Water Recirculation Systems

  • AS 2416.1-2010 Water safety signs and beach safety flags – Specifications for water safety signs used in workplaces and public areas

  • AS 2416.2-2010 Water safety signs and beach safety flags – Specifications for beach safety flags

  • AS 2416.3-2010 Water safety signs and beach safety flags – Guidance for use

  • ISO 7001 Graphic Symbol – Public Information Symbols

  • ​AS/NZS ISO 10535-2011 Hoists for the transfer of disabled persons – Requirements and test methods

  • AS 3745-2010 Planning for emergencies in facilities

  • AS 3780-2008 The storage and Handling of Corrosive Substances

  • AS/NZS 4233.1-2013 High pressure water jetting systems - safe operation and maintenance

  • AS 3533.1 - 2009; Amusement rides and devices

  • AS ISO 550001:2014 Asset Management – Management systems - requirements

  • AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk management- Principles and Guidelines

Globally Harmonised System of Classification and labelling of hazardous Chemicals (GHS)

The GHS is a single internationally agreed system of chemical classification and hazard communication through labelling and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Currently different countries have different systems for classification and labelling of chemical products. These different systems make regulation of this hazard difficult, impose an additional burden on business and can impact on safe use at the workplace level. The GHS is published by the United Nations and includes 'harmonized' criteria for the ready classification and understanding of physical, health and environmental hazards.

What will change?

Australia will implement the GHS for workplace hazardous chemicals (both substances and mixtures) from 1 January 2017. The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation introduced the GHS to replace current systems used for classifying workplace chemicals by standardising information on labels and SDS (formally called Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS))

Evidence Based Research and Collaboration

Royal Life Saving's programs, products and services are underpinned by research and a commitment to continual improvement. Furthermore, our research provides solid information on water safety issues concerning all Australia's waterways and environments with high drowning risk.


Our research includes:

  • National Drowning Report – Since 1995 Royal Life Saving has provided research into the contributing factors surrounding all drowning deaths in Australia for a given year

  • Specific Water Safety Issues – Including water safety strategies, education, the effects of alcohol, and specific activities such as fishing and other recreational pursuits

  • The State of the Industry – Every year, Royal Life Saving conducts Aquatic Facility Safety Assessments to evaluate and to provide a benchmark for the safety performance of the aquatic industry

Guideline Notifications and Information

A new Guideline Notification System will be introduced as of September 1 2016 for all Subscribers. This  will be displayed through the News and Events section but will also incorporate regular newsletter notifications  through your designated email on the following key categories:



  • Guideline Review - An existing Guideline is under review are feedback is specifically being sort


  • Draft Guidelines - A new draft guideline is available to view and feedback is being sort

  • Guidelines Change - A new version of a guideline has been endorsed

  • New Guideline - A completely new Guideline has been endorsed

  • Events - Find a range of Aquatic industry events across Australia and abroad


  • Subscription - Your Subscription is up for renewal