Staff members forced to discourage special needs and infant users due to health and safety May fears
Unite to raise the latest in a string of health & safety incidents at outsourced Belfast leisure centres with Health and Safety Executive NI
Unite Regional Officer, Michael Keenan confirmed his union had sought to raise its members’ concerns around Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) management decisions in relation to the swimming pool in the Ballysillan leisure centre with the Health & Safety Executive of Northern Ireland.
“Following a decision to empty the Ballysillan swimming pool on Monday [May 1st], the pool was closed all morning while it filled up. However, then despite the fact that the pool was significantly more than half a metre below its normal operating depth, and concerns being raised by our members, management insisted on opening the pool to the public at 1.15pm yesterday [Tuesday, May 2nd].
“To speed up the refilling of the pool, management instructed the use of a hose feeding cold water directly into the pool resulting in the temperature being significantly below what it should.
“This is only the latest in a string of incidents which have raised health and safety concerns among our members working in leisure centres formerly operated by Belfast City Council. When Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) took over the pools they decided to lower the operating temperature from 31 to 29.5 degrees centigrade – the temperature in the pool today was only 26 degrees which is too cold for many younger users.
“Unite members actively discouraged a group of special needs users and a father with a young infant from the facility, both because of concerns about the inappropriate temperature and the health and safety issues of using a shallow pool. Our members also demanded the removal of the hose as a trip-hazard in a wet environment.
“Health and Safety is not an optional extra, it is not merely another cost that can be avoided in order to maximise operating surpluses. This is precisely why Unite has called on Belfast City Council to review its decision to outsource management of the city’s leisure facilities.
“Unite has sought to raise our concerns around the operation of this swimming pool with the Health & Safety Executive NI. In addition, we will be engaging our members on their wider concerns with GLL management in the coming days”, Mr Keenan concluded.