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Risk Engineering

Importance of adequately maintaining your recreational facilities

07/2024

 

The common areas of residential complexes are an important part of the building and often used in marketing to attract prospective buyers. However, many serious injuries and larger liability claims are a result of incidents occurring in these areas. 

Recreation facilities are an integral part of a residential complex, but they can also come with a myriad of liability issues. Some facilities such as gyms and saunas may be used by people who may not have exercised for a long time or who are not familiar with the equipment, leading to a higher risk of danger. These areas are subject to peak usage, particularly during summer season, or may be frequented by uninvited guests. Furthermore, alcohol is often consumed in pool areas which makes it prone to even more liability issues.  

As a result, these areas must be given top priority by management with effective inspection and maintenance procedures in place, with a list of rules posted within clear view.

 

Swimming pools and spas

While most accidents are minor, pool and spa accidents can produce some serious injuries to residents and guests. Make sure that your pool complies fully with all relevant legislation, including the following: 

  • Abide by government regulations.
    The National Construction Code (NCC) requires that any pool with a depth of more than 300 millimetres be installed with a fence or other barriers, in accordance with Australian Standard AS 1926. 
  • Keep pool areas clean.
    Areas surrounding pools should have a slip resistant surface and be free of broken tiles, pavers and other trip hazards. Regular cleaning will also remove buildup of dust and mould, which can make a porous surface very slippery.
  • Avoid extra pool features.
    Slides and diving boards can increase likelihood for slips and falls. Some states do not permit diving boards where water is less than 3.5m deep.
  • Maintain pool conditions.
    Maintain all pool dosing equipment at recommended levels. All chemicals should be stored in a locked enclosure, away from the pool area. Testing of pool and spa water should be carried out regularly in line with standards and regulations. Routine testing can be performed in-house but external specialist testing should be performed regularly.
  • Promote good hygiene
    Signs should clearly encourage showering before swimming for hygiene reasons. The shower environment can be humid and wet, to allow the proliferation of bacterium and fungi. Thorough and regular cleaning is needed to prevent this and to remove soap accumulations.

 

Playgrounds

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, falls were the leading cause of injury hospitalisation amongst children in 2021-2022, with falls involving playground equipment being the most common type of fall. In addition to the risk of falls, playgrounds pose a number of other risks which can lead to injuries including entrapment, collisions with equipment, needle stick injuries, cuts from broken glass, amongst others. 

Playgrounds should have adequate soft fall surfaces complying with AS4422 (Int) 2022 and all play equipment should be regularly inspected by management. Safety signage should also be prominently signposted that parents are to supervise children at all times. 

Other playground hazards include:

  • Rusty protruding nails and screws, splintered timber
  • Brittle and cracked plastic seats from wear-and-tear
  • Concrete and uneven ground play surfaces
  • Swings positioned too close to fences, walls and other equipment

 

Fitness centres

A common amenity is a fitness centre for resident use. To minimise the hazards, management should focus on the selection of equipment, information, maintenance and security. 

The location of a fitness centre can vary depending upon the layout of the facility. It is best to locate the fitness centre in an area that is visible to all. This will reduce the potential for vandalism or malicious damage. The fitness centre should be in an enclosed area with limited access-controlled entrance points. An emergency telephone, CCTV camera system and regular management inspections should also be installed within the fitness centre.

The type of fitness equipment can greatly impact the potential for injury. Exercise bicycles, treadmills, stair-step machines and other similar equipment should be setup and maintained per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Instructions for use should be prominently posted on the machine and the fitness centre should be inspected regularly to ensure the condition and usability of all equipment. Vinyl seats and other surfaces should be sanitised daily.

 

BBQs

If there is a communal barbeque area, barbeques should be kept a safe distance away from any combustible building elements, such as shade cloth, combustible Aluminium Composite Panels (ACPs) or other flammable materials. Here are a few extra things to consider:

  • Instructions for use should be prominently sign posted in the area.
  • Fire extinguishing equipment must be in place and regularly checked and maintained.
  • Store all gas bottles externally in a secured area.
  • Regularly check gas supply hoses and all equipment.

 

References

https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/building-and-renovating/pools-and-pool-safety/swimming-pools-and-spas

https://www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au

https://www.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-construction/strata/serving-on-a-committee/safety

https://www.vba.vic.gov.au/consumers/swimming-pools

https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/housing/renting/repairs-alterations-safety-and-pets/keeping-the-property-safe/swimming-pools-and-spa-safety

https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/housing/owners-corporations/rules/what-can-an-owners-corporation-make-rules-about

https://www.qbcc.qld.gov.au/your-property/swimming-pools

https://www.qld.gov.au/law/housing-and-neighbours/body-corporate/roles/body-corporate

https://www.qld.gov.au/emergency/safety/recreation/bbq-safety

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