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What is your policy for staff in chemical rooms?

Keeping your pool properly balanced and within federal, state and city codes is an enormous and important task. It’s normally too time consuming to be given to just one person.  If you’re the only one checking chemicals and maintaining pool balance, you likely won’t have time for anything else.  This job needs to be safely and effectively delegated.

Heritage Pk_Aqua Ctr_089_eDepending on your facility, this job is usually delegated to Pool Managers, Head Lifeguards, or Lifeguards. However, Lifeguards and Head Lifeguards aren’t born with the knowledge of what to do around a chemical room, and often the kinds of chemicals they will have to work with go well beyond a normal high school chemistry classroom.  A well-written training manual and chemical room policy can be your best resource for keeping your staff and patrons safe.

Your training manual should cover some of the very basics of what your staff should know. Here are some things to include:

  • List of chemicals they will encounter on the job
  • What each chemical is used for and about how much is usually kept on site
  • Specific safety concerns for each chemical
  • Necessary safety equipment
  • Where to find Safety Data Sheets (formerly MSDS)
  • Where to find emergency information
  • Where to find the chemical handling policy manual

Staff should be trained before ever handling any chemicals.  They should be trained on what chemicals are used at the facility, what the chemicals are used for, how to properly handle them and add them to the pool.  Staff should also know how chemicals need to be stored, and where they can be stored.  For instance, chlorine cannot be stored on the same secondary containment device as muriatic acid.  If the two were to leak at the same time and mix, it would create a costly and dangerous situation.

Once a training manual has been, a chemical room policy reflecting that training should be written as well. Written policies should address chemical handling, safety concerns, disposal standards, and incident reporting procedures.  Staff should also have documented continuous training on those policies.

Items to include in the chemical room policy.

  • Where chemicals should be stored
  • Protocols on adding chemicals to the pools
  • Protocols on how manual chemical additions should be recorded
  • Where to find safety equipment
  • What safety equipment is required and recommended
  • Protocols for safe chemical handling
  • Protocols for emergencies
  • Location of SDS binder

Beyond safety policies, there are also ever-changing health codes (as with the Model Aquatic Health Code), and OSHA guidelines that can affect operations. Organizations should ensure they are complying with OSHA guidelines and have a written hazard communication policy.  This involves educating employees on the hazards they are likely to encounter on the job and precautionary measures they should take.  Most of what will already be found in your training manual and chemical room policy.  Often times an organization is not able to handle all of these aspects on their own.  Hiring a company to review OSHA standards and other applicable codes will help to provide a safe and efficient workplace.

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