National seminar to focus on water safety in tough economic climate

Professionals with responsibility for water safety across the UK will meet in April to discuss how to move accident prevention standards forward despite difficult operating conditions.

The National Water Safety Seminar, hosted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in Birmingham on April 26, will bring together representatives of all parts of the water safety industry, including those whose work encompasses safety at beaches, in inland waters (e.g. rivers and lakes), at sea, in swimming pools and during water sports. The event 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, information 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); 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); learning from 2012’s showcase events, including London 2012 and the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant; the launch of new event water safety guidance (Surf Lifesaving GB); and, the first presentation of revised guidance for the management of safety at inland water sites (RoSPA)
  • Supervision and lifeguarding: award-winning research on beach lifeguarding (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 (HSE) Managing Health and Safety in Swimming Pools (HSG179).

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 HSG179.

Peter Cornall, RoSPA’s head of leisure safety, said: “The latest figures for the UK show that 405 people died from accidents or natural causes in water across the UK in 2009. With public and private sector budgets continuing to be stretched, water safety practitioners are facing a difficult question: how can effective prevention continue even though resources are tight? This year's RoSPA National Water Safety Seminar, an event which has a strong following at national and local levels, will help them to answer that question, giving advice for managing water safety when times are tough and providing a forum in which to share the findings of groundbreaking research and launch new and updated guidance.”

Delegate places can still be booked, with an early booking discount of 20 per cent available until March 15. Visit to view the seminar’s full programme and book online. Alternatively, places can be booked by calling 0121 248 2089 or emailing

The event will take place at ETC Venues - Maple House, Birmingham.

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