School operations

Swimming Pools on School Grounds


This policy outlines the risk management requirements for schools that own or manage a swimming pool on their site.


  • The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 (Vic)External Link requires the department to provide or maintain systems of work and working environment that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risk to health, including in relation to swimming pools on school grounds.
  • The Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 (Vic)External Link outline a number of actions that must be taken to ensure the safety of swimming pools, spa pools and any interactive water features on school grounds, including registration of the facility from 14 December 2020
  • The OHS Regulations 2017 (Vic)External Link and the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2022 (Vic)External Link requires the department to manage the risks associated with dangerous goods and hazardous chemicals stored and used in schools that have swimming pools, for example, swimming pool chlorines, like sodium hypochlorite, swimming pool sanitisers like hydrogen peroxide.
  • The principal and/or their delegate must identify, assess, control and monitor OHS risks in relation to swimming pools at their site.
  • Under the OHS Act 2004, employees while at work must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions.
  • Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and employees to be safe and well, including access to the OHS Advisory Service and local regional officers who can provide free advice on managing risks related to swimming pools.
  • The Swimming Pools Risk Management Procedure (in the Procedure tab) must be followed, and sets out the practical step-by-step instructions for implementing this policy.
  • This Policy forms part of the department’s OHS Management System, refer to OHS Management System (OHSMS) Overview for further information.


The principal and/or their delegate is responsible for ensuring the pool is managed in a safe manner at all times, regardless of the user(s).

The Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 (Vic)External Link outline the minimum water quality requirements for aquatic facilities and the duties of aquatic facility operators. By definition, a swimming pool, spa pool or interactive water feature located at the premises of an early childhood service, school or other educational institution is categorised as a category 1 aquatic facility. All category 1 aquatic facilities must be registered with local council from 14 December 2020.

Schools should contact the OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 714 for support in registering their facility, including meeting the registration requirements.

For detailed information about registration requirements, refer to Frequently asked questions – swimming pools regulation changes 2021 (DOCX)External Link .

Principals or their delegate are responsible for ensuring that the standards and requirements for a category 1 aquatic facility on school grounds are met. The Water quality guidelines for public aquatic facilities – managing public health risksExternal Link require all category 1 and 2 aquatic facilities to have a water quality risk management plan in place. This is to minimise illness transmission from aquatic facilities and protect vulnerable groups including young children, and students living with additional health needs such as low immunity. For further information on developing a water quality risk management plan refer to Section 4 Water Quality Risk Management Plan in the Procedure tab.

The principal and/or their delegate should, in consultation with the Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) and employees, also ensure that:

  • the Department’s pre-populated Swimming Pool Inspection Checklist (DOCX)External Link is reviewed and amended for relevancy to the area being inspected and complete an inspection once a term or as required in consultation with the OHS Advisory Service
  • hazards identified during the swimming pool inspection are recorded in the Action Plan within the Inspection Checklist and in the ‘Hazard type’ column of the OHS risk register (XLSX)External Link
  • the risks associated with their pool are managed. These include:
    • chemical management
    • water safety
    • plant and equipment management (plant rooms)
    • gates and fencing
    • ladders and diving boards
    • slips, trips and falls
  • chemicals are identified, recorded on the Chemical Register and the appropriate controls are put in place for their storage, use and disposal
  • that there are appropriate emergency procedures in place in the event of a chemical spill as outlined in Guidance Sheet 4: Chemical Spill Management (DOCX)External Link
  • the identified hazards are risk-assessed and documented in the OHS Risk Register
  • OHS risk controls are implemented in consultation with employees and HSR as documented in the OHS Risk Register and Action Plan
  • controls that are implemented are monitored and reviewed to ensure their effectiveness in managing the risk and incorporate any changes to controls on the OHS risk register (XLSX)External Link .

For schools who share their pool with the community or other organisations, the principal and/or their delegate must ensure that these organisations have appropriate occupational health and safety management systems in place to address hazards they may be exposed to.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the:


Dangerous Goods
Dangerous goods are substances that may present an immediate safety hazard through exposure to their explosive, flammable, radioactive, corrosive or toxic properties.

They are easily recognisable by the diamond shaped sign displayed on the substance label. They are designated into nine classes according to their immediate physical or chemical effects.

For further information, refer to Guidance Sheet 2: Dangerous Goods Classification System (DOCX)External Link .

Emergency Management Procedures
Procedures in place to manage hazardous substances and/or dangerous goods spills and leaks (ie spill containment, spill kits, spill clean-up, appropriate disposal) including local emergency management plan detailing evacuation directions, medical treatment and assistance and alerting emergency services.

For further information, refer to:

Anything with the potential to cause harm, injury, illness, or loss.

Hazardous Chemicals
Hazardous chemicals are classified based on their health effects, both short and long term. They can enter the human body through inhalation, ingestion and contact through the skin and mucous membranes such as the eyes. The level of subsequent risk depends upon both the substance itself and the nature of the work being done with it.

Examples of types of hazardous chemicals (depending on their concentration) include:

  • acids
  • caustic substances
  • disinfectants
  • herbicides and pesticides
  • solvents and thinners

A formal check of physical conditions existing within a defined time and area against pre-established criteria (checklist).

The likelihood of harm arising from exposure to any hazards and the consequence of that harm.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on requirements for schools that own or manage a swimming pool on their site

Reviewed 09 May 2024

Policy last updated

14 December 2021


  • Schools
  • School councils


OHS Advisory Service

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