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What lesson can we learn?

When it comes to swimming pools, drowning isn’t the only danger. Something much less common but just as deadly, are the chemicals used to maintain water quality, that when not handled or stored properly, can also cause serious injuries or even death.

This was the case in one of Derby’s Health Clubs last Saturday, 20th May 2017. Eight people were taken to the hospital for “precautionary checks” after cleaning chemicals were incorrectly mixed, which forced the gym to be temporarily closed.
Crews from two separate fire stations plus an officer who was specially trained in investigating hazardous materials attended the David Lloyds gym on Pride Park.

The question is- what went wrong?


There should be designated areas for the storage of chemicals to ensure good separation of incompatible substances. Ideally, the separate areas should be bundied to ensure there is no possibility of incompatible chemicals mixing in the event of major spillages or leaks. Each designated storage area should be well signed, with a full list of all chemicals that are stored in there.

– All the chemicals should be stored in correct areas keeping chemicals that react separately.
– Acids and Alkalis react violently when mixed and so should be segregated at all times.
– Acids and chlorine donors will release highly toxic chlorine gas when mixed and so must be strictly segregated.

Mixing chemicals

In the case of David Lloyd Health Centre- Derby, the mixing of chemicals could have caused major injury and reputation damage. The correct mixing of chemicals is just as important as storage. Here are a few of the dangers that can occur if you mix the wrong chemicals together:

– Lack of water clarity
– Chemical irregularities
– Minor gas escapes
– Chemical burns
– Breathing-related problems
Full training is essential as well as having expert advice on hand.


The COSHH Regulations introduce a new legal framework for the control of substances hazardous to health in all businesses. Dangerous Substances Regulations 1984 categorised the substances in four groups:
– Very Toxic
– Harmful
– Corrosive
– Irritant


Where Chemicals may present a hazard on a premise, the protection of persons is covered by the COSHH Regulations. Hazardous substances are not limited to chemicals but can include Dusts, Carcinogens and bacteria such as Legionella Pneumophila. If you want to know more details, you can you can access the EH40 regulations available from HSE.


The disinfectant chemicals are strong oxidising agents. If they come into contact with any damp combustible material (e.g. paper or leaves ) then vigorous chemical reactions can occur leading to fire.


From specialist health and safety advice through to delivering the latest, industry-recognised, professional training qualifications, Alzach enables leisure businesses to operate safely and in compliance with the law. Our expertise is recognised by the Swimming Pools and Allied Trades Association and the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Alzach works with clients to support them in meeting their legal obligations of protecting both their guests and employees throughout their facilities. We will support you in ensuring that your facilities are legally compliant, identifying any gaps in your management and the mitigation of risk. We will provide documentation, advice and actions which will allow you to take positive steps in driving improvements to safety.