Latest News

Back to Latest News back

 

Life Saving Victoria voices concerns over aquatic centre ramps

Life Saving Victoria voices concerns over aquatic centre ramps
October 22, 2019

With access ramps have become a standard component of new aquatic facilities over the last 20 years, with large metropolitan facilities often having accessible ramp options into multiple pool spaces, Andy Dennis, Life Saving Victoria's Manager - Aquatic Risk and Research has questioned whether the current approach to ramps is the best approach for the industry or whether there is a failing to understand and acknowledge some of the risks, costs and limitations which come with them.

In an advisory note, Dennis writes "ramps have become such a core feature in new facility design, that some newly planned pools include ramps into each body of water.

"Accessible entry options are a legal requirement for new public pool facilities, where the pool perimeter exceeds 40 metre in length. This requirement is clearly set out in the ‘Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standard 2010’ and enforced in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

"But accessible ramps aren’t the only available option to achieve this requirement.

"Acceptable options include:

• A fixed or movable ramp and an aquatic wheelchair; or
• A zero-depth entry at a maximum gradient of 1:14 and an aquatic wheelchair; or
• A platform swimming pool lift and an aquatic wheelchair; or
• A sling-style swimming pool lift

"While the options above satisfy the requirement of the Standard, it seems that increasingly designers, architects and aquatic industry consultants are being advised that ramps are the option of choice for new or redevelopment facilities.

While ramps are a suitable option in some instances, this is not always the case, and it is important to acknowledge the three key risks which ramps introduce at a facility. These risks are i) patron safety, ii) lifeguard supervision and iii) reduced programmable space."

Dennis lists the following considerations:

Patron Safety: Ramps are an attractive nuisance for children and offer an area of shallow water enabling youngsters to run at break neck speed the way they would run into the water at the beach. The trips, slips and falls risk is significant and a regular matter for lifeguards to have to address. Climbing (or more to the point falling) is also a risk and can quickly become a hazard when young children end up in the deep water. Finally, entrapment is a risk. While the distances between handrails and pool walls is specified, entrapment of hands, feet and heads remains a risk. Whilst the outcome is usually just a bruise, sprain or strain, the potential injury is far more serious if the entrapment occurs beneath the surface.

Lifeguard Supervision: There are a variety of challenges which ramps introduce for supervising lifeguards. First and foremost there is the work required to address the safety matters above and continually work to keep the ramp free of young children. Secondly there is the line of sight issue associated with the ramp, whereby the lifeguard can’t see on the other side of the in-water wall regardless of how high they try. Thirdly there is the use of ramps linking pools and the associated risk of young children using the ramps unnoticed and working their way towards areas of deep water. And finally, there is the patient recovery and extraction challenge. There are currently no taught techniques for safe lifeguard water entry or patient extraction over the top of a ramp wall / handrail. This is a challenge and should be considered through in-service training. This is especially the case in deeper water where longer tows will likely be required.

Reduced Programable Space: In an industry which is continually being told that its operating costs are too high and where space is at a premium, consideration should be given to the opportunity cost associated with the incorporation of ramps. Each ramp is similar in size to a pool lane and the incorporation of two, three or even four ramps means the reduction of the programable space and the subsequent reduction in income generating potential. With so many facilities having waiting lists for swimming lessons and with the private learn to swim sector not taking the same approach to ramps, there is the risk that users will go elsewhere and might not come back.

Providing safe and suitable pool access to all members of the community must remain a key component in the design of any aquatic facility. However, there are multiple options to achieve this and the most suitable option should give consideration to a wide range of factors. These factors should include the ‘pro-ramp’ elements such as community expectations and population demographics, with equal consideration being given to the risks and restrictions including safety, supervision and available programmable space.

Main image used for illustrative purposes only. Lower image shows disabled hoist at the Sutherland Leisure Centre.

Related Articles

12th June 2019 - Life Saving Victoria activates new Public Pools Register

16th May 2019 - Life Saving Victoria launches inflatable pool off Williamstown

22nd February 2019 - AquaPulse earns Platinum Pool accreditation from Life Saving Victoria

31st January 2019 - Life Saving Victoria helps vulnerable swimmers with new training initiatives

18th July 2018 - Continuing performance challenges at aquatic facilities in Western Australia

13th November 2017 - New steps improve access to Cockburn ARC pool

30th November 2016 - New guide helps councils meet National Disability Strategy obligations

7th September 2016 - Report identifies barriers to disabled Australians participating in sport

31st August 2016 - New mobility hoist debuts at Taupo’s AC Baths

9th December 2014 - Floating wheelchair generating interest from Australian aquatic environments

2nd August 2013 - Swimming Australia seeks input to research on barriers to disabled swimming

9th June 2011 - Special needs swimmers hoist launched at McKeon’s Swim Centre


Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

AIS Water

AIS Water, the trading name of Australian Innovative Systems, is a multi-award winning, Australian owned leader in the design, production and supply of commercial and residential chlorine generators…

read more

Aquatics / Safety / Technology

 
 

INTELLIGENZ

Recreation Management Software for managing all your program registrations, facility bookings, membership pass sales and Point of Sale; including detailed reporting, automated customer communication…

read more

Access / Billing / Finance / Marketing / Technology

 
 

SLE WORLDWIDE AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

SLE Worldwide Australia is a Managing General Underwriter specialising in insuring risks in the world of Sports, Leisure and Entertainment. Be it relaxing, playing, organising or watching sports,…

read more

Insurance / Venues

 
 

Envibe

With its sleek good looks and easy-to-use yet powerful functionality, Envibe is the premium fitness club software for the Australasian leisure, recreation and fitness industry. We are the most…

read more

Aquatics / Fitness / Recreation / Technology

 
 

VLOCKER

Vlocker Pty Ltd has been designing, manufacturing, installing and servicing locker systems worldwide since 1995. Vlocker specialises in providing locker solutions to suit client requirements in…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Safety / Security / Venues

 
 

Tim Batt Water Solutions

Tim Batt Water Solutions are at the very forefront of the commercial aquatic business in Australia, with over 30 years specific experience supplying and installing chemical control and dosing…

read more

Aquatics / Environment / Recreation / Technology / Venues

 
 

The Jump Pad

The Jump Pad is a safe, flat inflatable made in a variety of sizes which can be used indoor or outdoor. From 3mx3m up to a whopping 9mx21m. Markets include Indoor and outdoor playgrounds, schools,…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Play

 
 

TouchCloud Global

Activating skyscapes for tourism, art, leisure and living TouchCloud Global (TCg) is a highly specialised international consultancy, broker and principal, devoted solely to activating and energising…

read more

Attractions / Consultants / Recreation / Safety / Tourism

 
 
 
 

get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business