Calls for full-time lifeguard at airport hotel after pool death

Health clubs could face calls for full-time lifeguards to be appointed at their swimming pools following the death of a Scottish man in a hotel pool.

Sunday, 13th August 2017, 11:18 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:51 am
Lifeguard supervision is not compulsory at health club swimming pools. Photograph: Getty/iStockphoto

Darren Steedman-Kerr, 29, was found unconscious in the Living Well health club pool at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel near Edinburgh airport on 27 May. He died a short time later.

The pool has closed while a joint investigation is carried out by Police Scotland and Edinburgh council’s environmental health team to determine whether Steedman-Kerr’s death was the result of a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Scotland on Sunday understands that the health club has already been ordered to make several changes, including the appointment of a full-time lifeguard at the pool, but has chosen to appeal against the demand. It has, however, agreed to install a defibrillator and have regular patrols of the pool by reception staff, according to an insider. Under current law, private gyms and health clubs are not required to have a full-time lifeguard on duty. However, a decision by health and safety officials in Edinburgh to make such an appointment mandatory could have implications for companies across the country.

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Employing a lifeguard during opening hours at a pool where there are sometimes no swimmers would be costly and could result in the closure of some hotel pools.

Yesterday a DoubleTree by Hilton spokesperson refused to comment on the order by health and safety officials, but insisted the hotel was cooperating with the investigation.

She added: “The swimming pool has been closed since 27 May when, very tragically, a 29-year-old man, who was a member of our health club, died at our hotel.”

“It appears that the young man became unwell during a swim in the health club’s pool and was attended to by our lifeguard, followed by an off-duty doctor and nurse who were also using the health club at the time. Despite their best efforts and the efforts of the paramedics, who arrived within minutes, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Steedman-Kerr, a plumbing and heating apprentice from Ratho, was set to wed his fiancée Michelle Mitchell this month.

A spokesman for Edinburgh council said it could not comment on the details of an on-going investigation.

David Walker, leisure safety manager at RoSPA, said: “Swimming pools in the UK generally have an excellent safety record, and are by far the safest place to swim. Of the average 400 drownings per year, fewer than five involve managed pools, and are often when an adult has a medical condition.

“There is guidance from the HSE on safety management in pools, aspects of which require judgement to determine whether lifeguards are required.”

Safety advice for swimming pools published on the Health and Safety Executive website states: “Pool operators need to consider how many lifeguards are required or whether constant poolside supervision is required. This is done through a risk assessment.”