In April 2009, a committee was formed to develop the Risk
Management/Safety Module for the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health
The committee spent countless hours researching, writing, editing
and re-editing the content for the code. The team — including
builders, operators, health department officials, chemical
manufacturers and educational organizations — was committed
to conducting necessary research and providing supported feedback
as we sought to address safety and risk management challenges for
the wide variety of aquatic venues.
Our focus was giving direction on safety topics that would provide
a safe experience for patrons, as well as help mitigate risks for
aquatic venues. The module addresses common safety and risk
management topics such as chemical handling and storage; employee
training; record keeping; inspections; evacuation procedures; depth
markers; signage; lighting; materials and water temperatures.
This module includes an annex to provide additional and supporting
information on the topics. It answered questions such as the ones
below; following are brief answers. For complete recommendations,
you should refer to the actual module, which can be found
Q: Do lazy rivers and wading pools need depth
A: No, but the patron should be informed at the entry point.
Q: When do I need artificial lighting in my pool, and how
much lighting do I need?
A: It’s needed if, when the pool is operating, there is a
lack of artificial lighting, or it’s operating at night. The
lighting provided must have the ability to detect a bather and
allow visibility of the pool floor.
Q: Where should emergency phones be placed in an aquatic
A: Permanently affixed and visible from within the pool
Q: How should chemicals be stored?
A: In compliance with the manufacturer’s MSDS and applicable
Q: What should I include in my emergency
A: Information about the facility, emergency response equipment and
plans for the types of emergencies.
Q: Can my employee still work in the pool if he has been
ill with diarrhea?
A: No. Create an employee illness policy for your facility.
Q: What do I need to check before opening my
A: Items include water quality levels, operational equipment and
As we developed the module, the committee strove for
performance-based content as opposed to objective criteria, with
detailed information in the annex to help understand how to
accomplish the intent of those standards. For example, we described
the desired outcome of appropriate lighting for particular
locations instead of numeric values that may not achieve the
desired results due to the vast diversity of aquatic venues. That
was in part because we couldn’t find any scientific data to
support a definitive level of lighting.
As technology advances in the aquatics industry, the committee
decided that our guidelines must allow for these opportunities and
not limit design innovation. For example, lighting aquatic venues
above and underwater can be accomplished with several different
means. In the same way, we didn’t want to restrict use of
underwater surveillance technology that facilities could use as
part of their lifeguard supervision strategies. So this
section allows different options for differing venues and
The module addresses employee safety and training as it relates to
pool chemical use and public health concerns, consistent with the
CDC’s focus on healthy swimming. We realized that education
needs to be a two-pronged approach. First, patrons need proper
signage that educates and informs them about healthy swimming
behaviors. Second, employees need necessary training and education
so they can serve as role models for patrons and provide a safe
swimming environment. Ultimately, a safe workplace for employees
creates a safe environment for patrons.
The public comment period for this module recently closed. The next
steps involve a review and response by the MAHC Steering Committee
and the Technical Committee as necessary. Once all sections have
been posted for public comment and those comments are considered
and addressed, the entire Model Aquatic Health Code will be posted
for another comment period prior to final publishing. The module
will be available on the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code site
with comments included until the entire Model Aquatic Health Code
is posted in its final format. More information can be found on the
CDC’s Model Aquatic Code Website.