National Aquatic Safety Company

Integrated Risk Management for Aquatic Facilities

There are three phases to successful implementation of an aquatic facility:  Design, construction and operation. In the past, many aquatic facilities have been built with little or no interaction between the agencies involved in these three activities. The principle that has been used is sometimes referred to as “throw it over the wall.” By this what is meant is that the designer develops the concept with little or no input from the constructor or user and throws it over the wall to the constructor. The constructor, in turn, constructs the entity with little or no input from the user and then throws it over the wall to the operator. This is a common problem with other industries and has led to the concept of concurrent engineering. With concurrent engineering, all three phases are integrated so that each has input into the work of the other two. To address this issue, the National Aquatic Safety Company has developed Integrated Risk Management for Aquatic Facilities program. The intent of the program is not to take the place of the primary designer, constructor or operator but rather to facilitate the interaction of the three phases.

Like any product or facility, during the operation and every day use of an aquatic facility or attraction there are often many issues that arise that can be traced back to the whole way back to its original design and/or construction. Because of the “throw it over the wall” concept that has been used in the past, many of these issues are very expensive to correct and sometimes cannot be corrected at all. If addressing these issues is too costly, or is just impossible, safety is often compromised. This program follows a series of steps that will help to ensure along the way of design and construction, that safety and practicality of its operation is the end result.

Design Phase
This begins by the owner completing a questionnaire aimed at determining the intent of the owner in building the facility or attraction. Then a dialogue is begun between NASCO and the owner. Specific performance standards are developed to be used by the owner in dealing with the designer and constructor. Once a preliminary design is determined, a specific lifeguard staffing plan is developed to be used in finalizing the design. The objective is to identify design issues that may lead to excessive operational costs because of staffing requirements as well as identifying safety concerns. Different plans to manage the risk of the facility are developed and submitted to the owner. These include both structural plans and documentation issues. The final plans are reviewed and staffing level are identified.

Construction Phase
As with anything, if the designer and those involved with construction do not work together the end result is often different than what was originally planned. This phase of the IRMA program is aimed at helping to ensure the facility or attraction is built as designed. Specific performance criterion are submitted to the constructor. A site visit is performed early in the construction to determine if any problems can be identified that will impact the operation of the facility. After the construction is completed, a site visit is conducted to develop a “punch list” of items that need to be addressed prior to final sign-off and commissioning.

Operational Phase
The operation of an aquatic facility or attraction is like no other business and few facilities will operate the same. For this reason, specific training of the operational staff is conducted on-site to meet the unique characteristics and needs of the facility. The training includes operational procedures as well as specific management functions and responsibilities. Furthermore, on-going quality assurance measures are taken to ensure that the initial training is reinforced thorough out the facility’s operation and also to help with adjustments in operational procedures.