Conference looks to the future of water safety


The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in the UK held a National Water Safety Congress called "Information into Education - Looking to the Future" in Bristol on March 3-4, 2008.

The congress focused on how people can be equipped to make informed choices about safety issues in and around water, including in relation to their own behaviour.

In the UK in 2005, 435 people, including 39 children, drowned accidentally. Nearly 200 of the tragedies are known to have happened in inland waters, such as lakes, rivers and canals; 80 around the coast; 37 in residential settings; 16 out at sea; and seven in swimming pools.

Peter Cornall, Head of Leisure Safety at RoSPA, said: "Individuals can play a huge role in preventing accidents on, in and around water through the choices they make. We need to ask whether we are equipping them with the information and skills they need to make those choices.

"Site operators obviously have important responsibilities in relation to drowning prevention, and there have been recent developments at the regulatory level including the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act and the growing focus on the duties of senior managers.

"It is important, however, that we aim for water safety management that is founded on an 'as safe as necessary' approach - rather than one that is 'as safe as possible' - so people can continue to enjoy the wide variety of water sites in this country. Making sure that we share good information, for example about accidents and near-misses, as well as encouraging people to take up water-based activities, is crucial in the development of such an approach."

Seminars and discussion tables tackled a wide range of water safety issues, including developments related to sea, beach, inland and pool settings and water sports.

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