Lifeguarding/Bather Supervision Module Open For Public Comment

The Lifeguarding/Bather Supervision Module for the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) was posted by the CDC on May 31, 2012 for public comment.  With most of the seasonal pools in the United States opening that week, we suspect that many industry professionals may have  missed the posting, including us.  The deadline for public comments is October 14, 2012. Counsilman-Hunsaker strongly encourages everyone in the aquatic community to review and participate in this process.

MAHC Lifeguarding and Bather Supervision Module Abstract

Health and safety issues related to bather supervision and lifeguarding for both the patron and the potential rescuer of an aquatic facility are increasingly being documented. The Lifeguarding and Bather Supervision Module is a first step towards improving the consistency in training, lifeguard management and supervision, lifeguard competency for guarded facilities and proper bather supervision at unguarded facilities. The Lifeguarding and Bather Supervision Module contains requirements for unguarded and guarded aquatics along with the training necessary to be a qualified lifeguard. The module includes:

  1. Standards for which aquatic facilities need to be guarded and which may not need to have professional lifeguard supervision but are still supervised.
  2. An Aquatic Facilities Safety Plan guide including pre-service, in-service, staffing, single lifeguard, lifeguard management and Emergency Action Plan requirements.
  3. Requirements for aquatic facilities to define, diagram, and document required zones of patron surveillance.
  4. Determination of what constitutes proper staffing by the ability of the lifeguard to reach all areas of their zone of patron surveillance within a certain time frame.
  5. Required lifesaving equipment, communications standards, and general requirements for lifeguards and lifeguard supervision/management training.

In addition to the Lifeguarding and Bather Supervision module, an annex section is provides support information to assist users in understanding the background of the provisions.

The Model Aquatic Health Code Steering Committee and Technical Committees appreciate your willingness to comment on the draft MAHC modules. Click here to download comment form.

All public comments will filter back to the Technical Committee for review before the module is officially released.

MAHC Background

The Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) effort began in February 2005. The first industry standard was issued in 1958. In the subsequent 50 years, there have been at least 50 different state codes and many independent county codes. What was required in one jurisdiction may be illegal in another. It is clear that this historic approach is not working. Thus, the National Swimming Pool Foundation took a leadership position and provided funding to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for the creation of the MAHC. The MAHC is intended to transform the patch work of industry codes into a data-driven, knowledge-based, risk reduction effort to prevent disease, injuries and promote healthy water experiences. To view the latest updates regarding the Model Aquatic Health Code go to

2 Comments to Lifeguarding/Bather Supervision Module Open For Public Comment

  1. August 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    The following are my comments on the Lifeguarding Module. There does not appear to be the ability to use a walking guard for lifeguarding coverage. Confirm language allows for a walking guard location and does not require a chair or stand. This section requires a lifeguard to be on duty for competitive swimming, lifeguard training, and swimming lessons – any pool deeper than 5 feet deep. Questions: if there is a one on one lesson being performed, can the instructor be the lifeguard? Is it currently the industry standard to have a lifeguard on duty for pools over 5’. Is this language changing the industry standard? This section requires a lifeguard to be on duty for any venue that induces a current. Could a wall inlet be misconstrued by the legal system that this is a current pool. Suggest better definition for current features. Maybe say current feature not a part of the filtration system. This section requires lifeguards not be assigned other task. Re-word to allow for lifeguards completing other tasks while they are not in they are not providing direct surveillance. I assume that it is acceptable for a guard to be completing other tasks when they are not providing direct surveillance. This section requires the aquatic supervisor to ensure that lifeguards wear corrective lenses. This put a burden on the supervisor that they cannot control and not qualified to enforce. The Supervisor has no way of determining if a lifeguard requires corrective lenses. They are not a doctor. Putting the burden on the supervisor that they wear glasses if required is also in appropriate. This burden belongs with the lifeguard.

  2. September 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Additional comments:

    Number of Years The United States Lifeguarding Standards Coalition final report, the scientific review by the American Red Cross and the technical committee agree that lifeguarding skills need to be refreshed as often as possible. The time periods listed in this Code are acceptable only if ongoing in-service and pre-service standards are followed. Did not see where an actual number of years is provided. Should be directly stated, not referenced by another code.

    Minimum Age The Technical Committee agreed that 18 and above was an adequate age level to consider a person as being mature enough for this position. This was a starting point but many other factors with regard to experience, training, management skills and others were equally or more important. 18 should be a preferred with 15 being adequate. The United States Lifeguard Standards did not reference any challenges for 15-17 year old lifeguards under normal surveillance. This could cause numerous pools across the country to close due to lack of staff.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.