Drowning prevention in the spotlight at national seminar this week

The National Water Safety Seminar, hosted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, takes place on Thursday, bringing together more than 100 professionals with responsibility for water safety across the UK.

The seminar, which comes just weeks after new figures revealed there were 420 water-related deaths from accidents or natural causes in the UK in 2010, will focus on how accident prevention standards can be taken forward despite difficult financial operating conditions. All parts of the water safety industry will be represented, including beach, inland water (e.g. rivers and lakes), sea, swimming pool and water sports safety. The seminar, taking place at ETC Venues - Maple House, Birmingham, is supported by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF).

Key presentations will be given by:

  • Tony Stammers, head of health and safety at British Waterways: how practitioners can balance the cost of protection without sacrificing high standards
  • David Walker, leisure safety manager at RoSPA, and Mike Barrett, of the NWSF: how the pioneering Water Incident Database (WAID) has developed since 2009
  • Richard Wilson, head of the office of the chief executive at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency: the recently published Blueprint for Future Coastguard Organisation in the UK and its implications for coastal safety
  • Mike Vlasto OBE, chairman of the NWSF: the future of water safety and the challenges that may lie ahead over the next 18 months
  • NWSF members - sea, beach, inland, swimming pool and water sports updates.

The event has been designed to meet as closely as possible the needs of different groups of practitioners, featuring three subject “tracks” from which delegates can choose:

  • Data and education: an update on coasteering (Falmouth Marine School and National Coasteering Charter); a new evidence-based coastal safety strategy (RNLI and Greenstreet Berman Limited); the potential of a flood early warning system for Boscastle and community approaches to river safety in Bath (RoSPA); and, making the best use of WAID (RoSPA and Cornwall Council)
  • Events and operations: new open water swimming competition guidance (ASA); effective campaign communications on a budget (Surfers Against Sewage); new event water safety guidance (Surf Lifesaving GB); and, revised guidance for the management of safety at inland water sites (Royal Life Saving Society UK)
  • Supervision and lifeguarding: award-winning research on beach lifeguards (University of Portsmouth); cutting-edge research on rip currents (University of Plymouth); improving the quality of lifesaving training and education programmes (Royal Life Saving Society UK); and, changes to the Health and Safety Executive’s Managing Health and Safety in Swimming Pools (HSE).

There will also be three workshop options: a “live” risk management case study at Birmingham’s canals at Brindley Place (British Waterways); a facilitated discussion on the future of adventure activity regulation following the abolition of the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (Royal Yachting Association); and, an opportunity to consult the HSE on changes to Managing Health and Safety in Swimming Pools.

David Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager, said: “The NWSF’s drowning figures for 2010 have just been published; therefore, this week’s seminar comes at a really opportune moment to ensure the focus stays on water safety and how to reduce these numbers in future years. Budgets are being stretched, however, and the key topic for discussion at the seminar will be how we can move forward with effective prevention even though resources are tight - an issue of relevance to the public, private and third sectors, all of which will be represented at Thursday’s event.”

Visit www.rospa.com/events/waterseminar/ to view the full programme. A few last-minute places are available. They can be booked online, by calling 0121 248 2089 or emailing events@rospa.com.

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