The HSE have released HSG282, new draft guidance for Spa Pools. The final version will be released in the coming months.
The HSE use the generic term “Spa Pools” to cover units that are sometimes called hot spa, hot tub, whirlpool spa and portable spa. ( Jacuzzi® is the registered trade name of a specific manufacturer and should not be mistaken for a generic name for spa pools.)
Spa Pool Bacteria
It has been known for a long time that Spa Pools are the source of numerous infections due to their ability to provide perfect conditions for bacteria to proliferate. The most common bacteria associated with Spa Pools are legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, both of these bacteria can cause pneumonia type illnesses.
- Legionella bacteria are responsible for legionnaires’ disease which can be fatal for 10% of the people who contract it.
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria are responsible for many serious conditions. Common ailments include eye and ear infections but those are just minor irritations compared with skin lesions, thromboembolism and cellulitis.
Other bacteria such as E.Coli, Mycobacterium and Staphylococcus aureus can be found in Spa Pools and they too can cause unpleasant infections.
HSG282 sets out in detail how to comply with legislation and is aimed at the dutyholders who operate spa pools within sports complexes, health clubs, hotels cruise ship operators, tour operators, rental companies, holiday lets and organisers of events where spa pools are used, hired or displayed.
The initial step is to undertake a risk assessment, this will need to cover hazards such as:-
- Slips and trips
- Entrapment of hair & fingers
Once the risks have been identified the document details the requirement for a Pool Safety Operating Procedure which should include the written scheme of control plus the Normal Operating Plan (NOP) and the Emergency Action Plan (EAP).
Microbiological hazards remain the greatest risk so the testing regime is now confirmed as being the same as the ‘good practice’ undertaken by most pool operators for the past few years, namely:-
- TVC at 37°C
- E. Coli
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Additional sampling should be considered whenever:-
- When a spa pool is first used or recommissioned
- After a report of ill-health following spa pool use
- Where there is doubt about the efficacy of the control regime
- Where there has been any contamination incident
- Where there has been alterations to the treatment/maintenance regime