Safety at Inland Waters

Inland water locations consistently account for more than half of all accidental drowning deaths in the UK, on average 250 each year. In almost half of these incidents the person had no intention of being in the water. Site managers have a pivotal role in ensuring that the number of inland drowning deaths is reduced.

This page contains advice and resources for site managers and duty holders at UK inland water sites: our lakes, rivers, canals, reservoirs and harbour areas.

Managing safety at inland waters guidance

Reflecting recent developments in criminal and civil case law, this is the principal RoSPA guidance. Topics include advice and practical examples on risk assessment, selecting and evaluating controls, creating and aligning water safety policies.

This second edition, published January 2019 reflects the deeper insights afforded by the WAter Incident Database (WAID) and the development of collective principles to better manage water safety risks.

Drafted with the support of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) inland waters group, this edition aligns with the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy objectives.

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Water safety reviews and assessments

Water safety reviews and assessments

Our consultants have considerable experience in assessing and managing water safety risks, working with local authorities and private landowners from a first principles basis. Our consultants have held senior positions as landowners and recreation managers, in enforcement and lead investigation.

Services we offer:

  • Accident investigation
  • City and community-level reviews
  • Design and planning reviews
  • Risk assessment development/review
  • Policy development and review.
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National Drowning Prevention Strategy and Policy

In 2016 there was a significant step forward for water safety in the UK, with the publication of the first National Drowning Prevention Strategy. Produced by NWSF, which RoSPA hosts, the strategy aims to cut water-related deaths by 50 per cent by 2026.

In March 2018 RoSPA helped to launch the Scottish Drowning Prevention Strategy from Water Safety Scotland.

Water safety training

Water safety training

Risk assessment is often the critical first step in making required safety improvements. Our safety at inland waters training course will equip you with the knowledge and techniques to identify and manage risks in a manner that is compliant with your legal duties, while recognising the wider values that make our waterways unique places.

National Water Safety Conference

National Water Safety Conference

RoSPA organises conferences and seminars throughout the year, right across the spectrum of health and safety. Our programmes draw together influential figures and leading experts from their respective fields.

Every 18 months, we hold the RoSPA National Water Safety Conference to keep water safety professionals up to date with the latest research and developments.

Incident and drowning data

Incident and drowning data

RoSPA manages and jointly contributes data towards WAID. This services captures and reports upon drowning incidents and other water-related harm. Data is available to members of NWSF and duty holders upon request.

Fatality incident data is released on an annual basis, and reports are available for UK geographies back to 2013. Historical data from the RoSPA drowning statistics reports are available upon request.

The assessing inland risk report provides an overview of relative risk by location and activity.


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