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New guidance released to prevent inland water drownings


With around two-thirds of drowning deaths in the UK happening at inland waters, safety charity RoSPA has released a new book with guidance and advice on how to manage sites to help prevent tragedy.

Between 2012 and 2016, 1,029 people died in accidental drownings in the UK’s inland waters, which includes sites such as rivers, reservoirs, canals, lakes, lochs, harbours, ponds and streams.

Each individual location will pose its own particular risks and challenges, yet there is more that can be done to prevent people from drowning at these sites.

Aimed at those with responsibility for land adjoining inland waters, such as risk managers, land managers and facilities managers, RoSPA’s Safety at Inland Waters aims to help improve water safety by helping to inform decisions on risk and safety.

David Walker, RoSPA’s leisure safety manager and author of the book, said: “Over the five years from 2012, 60 per cent of drownings were at inland water sites, so clearly this is an issue that urgently needs addressing.

“There is something that all stakeholders can do to reduce the risks, and by working together we can drive down the number of people needlessly dying in the UK’s waters every year. I hope that Safety at Inland Waters will enable all managers with a responsibility for such sites to better understand and manage risks, and that it acts as a catalyst for further reductions in drownings.”

Safety at Inland Waters provides a thorough run-through of relevant water-related risks, a manger’s legal priorities, including case law, and offers numerous case studies of good management of waterside spaces.

Steve Birtles, chairman of the National Water Safety Forum Inland Waters Group and head of safety management at The Broads Authority, said: “We welcome this new edition that has drawn on the expertise and experience of a wide range of organisations who are directly involved with the management of public safety on inland waters.

“It has been designed to help landowners and managers learn about best practice and some of the simple measures that they can take to mitigate the risk of drowning, to help them obtain a clearer understanding of the extent of their responsibilities and appreciate the wide range of resources that are available to support them. Most importantly, I hope that they will recognise from the various case studies and examples that they will not be alone when working on drowning prevention.”

Adrian Lole, director at the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), said: “We are happy to have collaborated on this guidance and we are hoping this clarifies duties for landowners.”

The book is free to download from

For more information, email [email protected] 

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