For almost 100 years, pool chemicals have provided the primary barrier to the transmission of infectious pathogens in treated recreational water venues. Chemicals are added to pool water to kill disease-causing germs, maximize the efficacy of the disinfection process (for example, pH control), improve water quality, stop corrosion and scaling of equipment, and protect against algal growth.
However, improper handling and storage practices and poor pool operation can cause injuries, despite their preventable nature.1 In 2012 alone, nearly 5,000 persons visited an emergency department for injuries associated with pool chemicals.
To prevent these injuries in your workplace, it is important to provide both initial training for new employees and refresher training for existing employees. One of the best, and freely available, training videos is the Pool Chemical Safety2 video (view on YouTube) produced by The Chlorine Institute and the American Chemistry Council, which outlines the safe use of pool chemicals.
In addition to this video, be sure to provide these guidelines to your employees for the safe use and storage of pool chemicals:
Before You Begin
- Get trained in pool chemical safety.
- Ask for help if you are NOT trained for specific tasks.
- Read the entire product label or Safety Data Sheet (SDS) before using.
- Develop an Emergency Chemical Response Plan for your pool, educate employees and practice it.
- Wear appropriate safety equipment such as safety goggles, chemical-resistant gloves and mask.
- Read chemical product label before each use:
- Handle chemicals in well-ventilated areas.
- Open one product container at a time and close it before opening another.
- Minimize dust, fumes and splashes.
- Measure carefully.
- Never mix:
– Chlorine products with acid; this could create toxic gases.
– Different pool chemicals (e.g., different types of chlorine products) with each other or with any other substance.
– Only pre-dissolve pool chemicals when directed by the product label.
- If the product label directs pre-dissolving, add pool chemical to water; NEVER add water to pool chemical because violent (potentially explosive) reaction can occur.
- Follow product label directions for chemical storage:
- Again, wear appropriate safety equipment such as safety goggles, chemical-resistant gloves, and mask.
- Separate incompatible chemicals (e.g., acid and chlorine).
- Lock chemicals up to protect people and animals.
- Keep chemicals dry and do not mix different chemicals (e.g., different types of chlorine products).
- Keep chemicals cool in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
- Keep chemicals closed in original, labeled container.
- Store liquid chemicals low to prevent accidental contact (e.g., by leaking) with chemicals or substances stored below them.
- Secure the chemical storage area and pump room to limit access.
- Provide locking mechanisms for the chemical controller to prevent unauthorized tampering.
- Follow product label directions for safe disposal; never reuse containers.
For more information about preventing pool chemical-associated injuries and the guidelines presented above, and for free laminated posters3, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Preventing Pool Chemical-Associated Health Events resource page.
Should you require additional assistance with pool chemical safety in your workplace, please contact Gary Smith, CRM, at (517) 338-3367 or email@example.com.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Pool Chemical–Associated Health Events in Public and Residential Settings — United States, 2003–2012, and Minnesota, 2013. Published May 16, 2014.
- Chlorine Institute, www.chlorineinstitute.org, Pool Chemical Safety training video.
- Pool Chemical Safety: Use & Storage Posters at https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/materials/posters.html