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SECTION 16 - POOL PLANT PROCEDURES

Company standards regarding qualifications


3d Company standards are that the Leisure Club Manager as a minimum should hold the full ISRM Pool Plant
Operators Certificate and in current level of validation. All other staff responsible for pool testing should complete
the in-house training and sign the relevant pool plant training sheet.

Intentions of the standards guide


The intention of this section is to highlight the company standards with regards to safe and effective water
treatment and also to provide guidance on operating plant systems and preventative maintenance tasks.

This section is broken down into the following five areas:


16.1 - Water Quality
16.2 - Lone Working, COSHH and Personal Protective Equipment
16.3 - Glossary of Plant Equipment
16.4 - Pre Planned Monthly and Weekly Maintenance
16.5 - Troubleshooting and Corrective Measures

16.1 - Water Quality

16.1.1 - Source Water Variation


In order for operators to correctly manage their pools it is imperative that the makeup of their incoming water (or
source water) is correctly understood in order to find the best corrective solutions.

3d Leisure operates over 60 clubs (and still growing!!) nationwide. The source of the water each club receives is
different depending on the area (or water source), for this reason the clubs water disinfection system would need to
reflect this.

Certain water may contain minerals that in their own way could either assist or destroy the quality of our swimming
pools if managed incorrectly.

An example of this would be the fact that tile grout (the adhesive that holds the tiles to the pool structure) is made
up of calcium which can be easily eroded by ‘chlorinated’ or ‘brominated’ water (as may be the case with certain spa
pools). If our source water contains good levels of calcium naturally the standard guide addition of calcium may not
be necessary.

If the source water contains high levels of mineral deposits this can be classified as ‘hard water’ which could
potentially cause scaling of the filters and pipework which could in turn cause blockages and reduce filter and
through ‘calorification’ thermal efficiency. The opposite of this would be ‘soft water’ where corrosive deposits are
evident in the source water that could ultimately lead to the destruction of the pool structure and equipment itself.

16.1.2 - Water Standards

16.1.2.1 - Disinfectant Level Standards


Free Chlorine, Combined Chlorine and Total Chlorine - we’ve all heard of them but what actually do they mean?

Free Chlorine – Imagine your pool is brand new and filled up with fresh mains water with no bacterial contamination
(primarily brought in by bathers in the form of Ammonium Compounds (NH3), add to this a level of Chlorine of
1.0ppm/mgpl then all the chlorine would be free and available to kill any contamination brought in to the pool – this
is where the name free chlorine comes from.

Combined Chlorine – This refers to the level of active chlorine in the pool (actually killing bacteria).
Combined chlorine levels can be found in these four categories:

Monochloramine – this is where one part chlorine locks on to one part bacteria
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Dichloramine - this is where one part chlorine locks on to two parts bacteria
Trichloramine or Nitrogen Trichloride – this is where one part chlorine locks on to three parts bacteria (it is worth
knowing that Nitrogen Trichloride is tear gas), this usually occurs when the pH (see pH) is out of range. It is usually
these types of chloramines that are to blame for streaming eyes feedback from bathers stating that the chlorine
level is too high when in fact, the chlorine level is too low but in essence it is the pH balance that is causing the
problem.
Organic Chloramines – If the combined chlorine reading exceeds 1.0 ppm/mgpl the chloramine is said to be organic
and chlorine resistant – the ONLY solution to removing this is fresh water dilution (see backwashing).

Total Chlorine refers to the sum totals of the combined free chlorine and combined chlorine levels.

The general rule is to keep the combined chlorine level to a maximum of half that of free chlorine. An example of
some typical MAXIMUM combined chlorine levels are in the table below:

Free Chlorine Combined Chlorine Total Chlorine


1.0 0.5 1.5
0.8 0.4 1.2
1.5 0.75 2.25

16.1.2.2 - pH (potential Hydrogen) Standards


pH refers to the level of alkali or acid in the water on the pH scale. A pH of 1 would be said to be maximum acidic
level whereas a pH of 14 would be classified as a maximum alkali level.

The pH we require of our water is 7.3 (or a range of 7.2-7.6) due to this being the approximate pH level of eye fluid
(the most easily affected body part if the pH was to be out of range).

As the pH increases the effectiveness of the chlorine or bromine product that you would be using decreases (for
example chlorine at a pH of 7.2 would be over 75% effective whereas a pH of 8.0 would be less than 20%).

16.1.2.3 - Total Alkalinity


For effective oxidisation of bacteria to take place it is imperative that the correct level of alkalinity is maintained, this
is what is known as total alkalinity. If you are using calcium hypochlorite as your chlorine donor then the correct
total alkalinity level would be 80-100 ppm / mgpl. If sodium hypochlorite is used then the correct level of total
alkalinity would be 120-140 ppm / mgpl.

If total alkalinity is too low this can cause pH to be erratic and is known as pH bounce
If total alkalinity is too high this can cause pH to stick and is known as pH lock

Both of these can easily be rectified by stabilising the total alkalinity level.

16.1.2.4 - Calcium Hardness


An explanation of calcium harness can be found in the source water topic (6.1.1).
Calcium hardness levels are ideally maintained at excess of 200 ppm / mgpl and theoretically have no upper limit
(see balanced water test).

16.1.2.5 - Total Dissolved Solids (T.D.S)


T.D.S is a measure of suspended colloidal matter in the pool which can be made up of bacteria, undisolved
chemicals etc. High T.D.S. in the water can make the water look dull and unclear. The solution to reducing T.D.S. is
fresh water dilution.

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16.1.2.6 - External Environmental Testing
3d standards insist on external sampling to be conducted for bacterial, viral and pathological contamination on a
monthly basis.

Samples are sent to external laboratories and are tested for Total Viable Content – TVC and these levels should be
below 100cfu (colony forming units).

Tests are also undertaken for other tests such as coliform and E coli. These levels should be below 1 cfu.

16.1.3 - Water Testing


DPD1, DPD3 & Phenol Red) are added to water samples and colours are compared against a coloured disc. The
information following will provide the correct usage for taking water tests using this piece of equipment.

For all tests, the operator will need to establish The most accurate method available for water testing is using a
device known as a photometer where colours are compared through a white light source (this device is particularly
useful for operators whom suffer with colour blindness). These are a more expensive option and their usage differs
from device to device and it is therefore recommended that operators consult their individual operating guides for
these.

The most common form of water testing equipment is known as a comparator kit. This is a device where chemical
tablets (known as reagents a sample point which should be located as equidistant between the pool inlets and
outlets and should be taken from a designated sample bottle at least 15cm below the water line.

Test for Free Chlorine – Take two 10ml test tubes from the test kit. Fill one to the 10ml mark and partially fill the
other. To this second test tube add a ‘DPD1’ tablet, crush and top up to the 10ml mark.

Insert the chlorine disc into the comparator ensuring that the numbers when the disc is rotated appear in the
bottom right of the comparator. Place the clear sample in the left hand side and the coloured (tablet added) sample
in the right hand side sampling cells in the comparator. Rotate the discs until the colours match. The number that
appears in the bottom right will be the free chlorine reading.

Test for Total and Combined Chlorine – To the coloured sample of the DPD1 add a ‘DPD3’ tablet and repeat the
procedure highlighted above. This figure would be the total chlorine. To obtain the combined chlorine reading,
subtract the DPD1 reading from the DPD3 reading.

Test for pH – Take a third test tube, partially fill with sample water, add a ‘Phenol Red’ tablet, crush and fill to the
10m mark. Remove the chlorine disc and the chlorine sample and insert the pH sample and pH disc. Again rotate
the disc until the colours match to find the reading.

If the colours for chlorine or pH when using a comparator are not an identical match with the discs then operators
would need to ‘split the difference’ (e.g. pH colour slightly more red than 7.6 but not as red as 7.8 would be a 7.7
reading).

It is imperative that after chlorine and pH readings are taken that they are entered into the chemical
control panel (standardising – see manufacturers instructions) and on the log sheet and also that
chemical day tanks and pumps are checked on a two hourly basis.

Test for Total Alkalinity – Fill a larger test tube to the 50ml mark and add a total alkalinity tablet. The colour
should change to yellow. Keep adding these tablets until the colour changes to red. The equation for acquiring the
reading would be number of tablets x 40 – 20 (for example 3 tablets would mean that the total alkalinity was
100ppm / mgpl).

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Test for Calcium Hardness – Fill a larger test tube to the 50ml mark and add a calcium hardness tablet. The
colour should change to pink. Keep adding these tablets until the colour changes to violet. The equation for
acquiring the reading would be number of tablets x 40 – 20 (for example 7 tablets would mean that the calcium
hardness was 2200ppm / mgpl).

Test for Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) – Using a TDS meter, switch the device on and place it in to the pool and
wait for the readings to stabilise and record the figure. Some devices vary and you may need to refer to individual
manufacturers guidelines for these.

Temperature – Pool temperature should be taken at the time of the pool test using a thermometer. Ideally for
leisure pools temperatures should be at a maximum of 30/31 degrees Celsius.

Note: It is essential that Free chlorine, total chlorine, combined chlorine, pH and temperature tests
should be taken daily at two hour intervals and a first morning sample MUST be undertaken prior to
opening the pool.

Balanced Water Calculations – Balanced water calculations are a pool maintenance test taken using the
‘Langelier’ saturation index test and are to be done weekly. To undertake this test you will need your test results for
pH, temperature, total alkalinity, calcium hardness and total dissolved solids. With these results you will need to
convert these to factors using the saturation index table below:

Temp Temperature Calcium C/Hardness Total T/Akalinity TDS TDS


‘F’ Factor (TF) Hardness Factor(CF) Alkalinity Factor(AF) Factor
(TDSF)
32 0.0 5 0.3 5 0.7 0-999 12.0
46 0.2 50 1.3 50 1.7 1000 - 12.1
50 0.4 100 1.6 100 2.0 2000 - 12.2
66 0.5 150 1.8 150 2.2 3000 - 12.3
76 0.6 200 1.9 200 2.3 4000 - 12.4
84 0.7 300 2.1 300 2.5 5000 - 12.5
94 0.8 400 2.2 400 2.6
105 0.9 500 2.5 800 2.9
128 1.0 1000 2.6 1000 3.0

pH readings will remain the same (no factor).


With these readings apply the following equation – pH+TF+CF+AF-TDSF this will give you your balance result.
Results of 0.0 to 0.5(+) indicate that the water is scale forming. Results of 0.0 to 0.5(-) indicate that the water is
corrosive. Aim for a positive test of +0.1 to +0.2.

16.2.0 - Lone Working, COSHH and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


To maximise safety due to gas inhalation or other injuries all tasks involving plant room operations must comply
with the following procedure:
 Staff member alerts another staff member that they are going to the plant room
 The lone worker will enter the plant room (by crossing the blue line) wearing full PPE
 Staff will only undertake tasks and handle chemicals and equipment for which they have received full
and documented training in.

Each site will have identified (as part of the risk assessment) certain tasks which should not be completed by a lone
worker. These tasks must only be completed when two members of trained staff are available:
 Two staff agree on a task identified as a dual worked role
 Both wear appropriate PPE and enter the plant room
 Task is completed
 The lone worker sheet is completed by both staff

16.3.0 - Glossary of plant equipment and terminology


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Filter – A device using a sand base where water is forced into at high pressure causing polluted particles to be taken
from the water. It is recommended that the sand is changed a minimum of every five years.

Strainer Basket – A gauze basket located inside the pump to catch larger particles of pollution.

Calorifier – A device used for indirectly heating the water controlled via a heat bypass valve. Many different types of
calorifiers exist and may vary between facilities. Common types are non storage calorifiers, plate heat exchanger
and run around coil.

Chemical Control Panel – A computerised panel that measures the constant pH and chlorine levels of the water
using ampermetrics. These probes must be cleaned and calibrated at least monthly and the probes are generally
replaced every three years. Cleaning and calibration of this unit will vary between sites and it is recommended that
operators consult their individual operating guides for this.

Day Tank and ‘Bund’ Container – A day tank is the vessel responsible for holding automatically added chemicals
through the dosing system. They will usually hold the following chemicals – ‘Sodium Hypochlorite’, ‘Calcium
Hypochlorite’, ‘Sodium Bisulphate’ and in extreme cases ‘Hydrochloric Acid’. In certain larger pools there may be a
container holding Poly Aluminium Chloride, Spa Pools may use a brominated product fed through an erosion feeder.

Gas Cylinders – Some sites may be using carbon dioxide cylinders (CO2) as a pH balancing agent. It is important to
ensure that the gas supply is turned off at the chemical control panel and at the cylinder prior to disconnection. In
reconnection it is imperative that the gas has a good seal and is not over tightened before being turned on.

Injector – This is a device used for supplying chemicals to pool water via the pipework.

Infusion Rod - This is a device used for infusing gas into pool water via the pipework.

Self Levelling Unit and Automatic Top Up Valve – This is a device used for ensuring that the water is maintained at a
constant level. The self levelling valve is in essence a ball cock or an electrical sensor that measures the water level,
any shortfall in water is made up by the automatic top up valve (also used for fresh water dilution).

Liquid Metering Instruments (LMI) pumps – These are the pumps that are responsible for delivering chemicals to
the pool water.

Filtration – This relates to the normal flow of water through the pipework and associated equipment throughout the
operational day where water is pumped through from the top of the filter to the bottom and back to the pool.

Backwashing – This term relates to diverting the filtration flow from the bottom to the top of the filter and out to the
drain. By doing this pollution is removed from the filters and fresh water dilution replenishes the pool.

16.4 - Pre Planned Monthly and Weekly Maintenance

16.4.1 - Cleaning Strainer Baskets


The cleaning of strainer baskets must be undertaken weekly. To do this at your facility following this general guide
will assist you but may vary from site to site:

Firstly turn off the pumps then close the valves prior to and after the baskets. Unscrew the lid and remove the inner
basket(s). Clean the debris from inside the basket(s) and replace them ensuring that when the lids are re-applied
they are screwed down securely and more so important – evenly. Return the valves back to their normal operating
positions and switch back on the pumps.

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16.4.2 - Backwashing
Backwashing should be undertaken at least twice per week although this will vary from pool to pool and you should
check your sites pool operating manual. In order to do this you will need to follow your general operating
instructions for your site equipment. The following is a guide to assist you as a general guideline:

Turn off the pumps and close all of the pump valves first. Alter your valve settings on one filter only to backwash
position, the other filter should remain as normal or set to a closed position depending on the system you have.
Open the drain valve coming from the filter (usually this should be clearly marked).

Reset the pump valves to their original condition and turn on the pumps. Run this process until the site glass
(usually located prior to the drainage valve) runs clear. If your filtration system has a rinse operation then you will
need to turn off the pumps and alter this setting to rinse, turn on the pumps and run for about 30 seconds (if this is
not undertaken the sand in the filter can become uneven and cause blockages).

Turn off the pumps and close the valves prior to them. Close the drainage valve and return the valves on the filter
and pumps to their normal operating position and turn on the pumps. A final check would be to wait for a few
minutes and observe the pressure gauge on the filters to ensure they are working (this is particularly important for
heavy backwashing and spa pools).

16.4.3 - Vacuuming the Pool


Vacuuming the pool varies from site to site depending on the equipment available. Generally there will be a vacuum
port in the pool and you will need to attach your vacuum hose to this after filling the entire hose with water from
the pool (doing this will ensure a good vacuum and will prevent airlocks from damaging the filtration system). In the
plant room there will be a vacuum valve and you will need to open this and partially close the low suction (or sump)
valves to ensure a good suction. After vacuuming the pool the valves will need to be reset to their normal operating
positions and the equipment stored correctly. This process should be undertaken at least weekly.

16.4.4 - Cleaning & Calibrating Probes


Cleaning & calibrating probes are essential tasks that should be undertaken at least monthly. This process will vary
from site to site but the following will serve as a valuable guideline:

Disconnect the probe leads from the chemical control panel. Unscrew the probes from the unit, rinse them in probe
cleaning fluid, replace and reconnect.

After this the probes and chemical control will need to be calibrated. Using your pool testing kit obtain free chlorine
and pH readings from the sample cell located at the probes. Follow your individual manufacturers’ instructions for
calibration and standardising guidelines.

16.4.5 - Cleaning Injectors and Infusion Points


Cleaning of chemical injection points are an essential part of ensuring the pool chemical levels are maintained
correctly and must be checked and if necessary cleaned weekly. To do this follow these general guidance notes:

If not done so already, now would be a good time to ensure you’re wearing full PPE - especially goggles. Turn off
the pumps and close the pump valves on both sides (this will stop you getting wet!!) and then turn off the chemical
controls and chemical valves. Unscrew the injector, disassemble (ensuring you make a note of which way it goes
back together) and clean in hot water. Reassemble it and screw it back into the pipework. Return the valve settings
to normal and turn on the pumps.

Cleaning of infusion points are extremely rare due to the chemical being delivered in gaseous form. If a blockage
does occur then clean as for an injector (a light wire brush is a good tool to do this job). In the case of chlorine gas
cylinders and ‘bernolli venturi’ systems this task must be undertaken by an outside qualified gas installer.

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16.4.6 - Replenishing Day Tanks
As highlighted earlier day tanks must be checked at regular intervals through the plant room check and recorded on
the daily log sheet. And it is especially important that full PPE is worn.

It is vital that chemicals are stored in separate areas of the plant room in order to avoid placing chemicals into the
incorrect chemical day tank - which should be clearly marked.

A worst case scenario would be that chlorine gas could be liberated by mixing these chemicals and
effective kill rates of as low as 8 seconds have been recorded!

Sodium Hypochlorite - This is a liquid chlorine donor product and is poured neat into chemical day tanks. These
chemicals are generally black, clearly marked (including operating strength) and can be over 25kg so it is therefore
important that a manual handling risk assessment is also undertaken for this task.

Calcium Hypochlorite – This is also a chlorine donor usually in a yellowish granular format (though can be available
in tablet form when used with an erosion feeder). Containers are generally white and with a blue lid and their trade
name is usually ‘HtH’. Day tanks are first filled with water and the product is then added. The amount will depend
on the operating free chlorine level that you normally use and the pool volume. A guide to calculating this is usually
found on the side of the containers.

Sodium Bisulphate – This is a white granular powder usually available in chemical plastic bags of 25kg. Storage for
these is recommended in a chemical proof sealable lid (plastic dustbins are ideal for this).
Day tank again is filled by adding the product to the water to avoid splashes. A general operating guide for this
would usually be to add to the water at 10% strength (i.e. 1kg per 10litres of water).

16.4.7 - Cleaning Balance Tanks


Cleaning balance tanks especially in pool under croft can be a claustrophobic task but is an essential task to
undertake cleaning of the overflow channel and grids on a monthly basis and the actual balance tank annually.

Cleaning of the overflow channel, scum troughs and grids are relatively simple tasks and can be covered under the
general cleaning regime of the facility providing that the cleaning agent does not interfere with the pool chemistry.

Cleaning of the balance tank itself requires the following precautions due to an increased risk of head or other bodily
injury, being overcome by undisolved chemical products and ultimately death by drowning:

 Ensure the area is cordoned off and clearly marked to avoid staff or customer injuries
 Ensure you are permanently accompanied to undertake this task – lone working unacceptable!
 Ensure you have all balance tank inspection hatches open to allow ventilation
 Ensure the area you are cleaning is well lit to avoid injury
 Do not attempt to go inside if the water level is too high
 Clean the tank with a product that will not affect the pool water
 Ensure after cleaning that the balance tank lids are secure

16.4.8 - Miscellaneous tasks not covered


It is recommended that all other tasks not covered here are undertaken by external contractors.

16.5 - Troubleshooting & Corrective Measures


All too often when pool operators discover out of range readings the knee jerk reaction is to perform emergency
chemical control measures or more commonly known as ‘shock / hand dosing’. This type of emergency control
measure should be used as an emergency measure only as all too often shock / hand dosing is seen to be
the solution when in fact it isn’t. All this type of measure will control is the short term problems.

The ‘best practice’ solution would be to use analytical processes to ascertain and rectify the cause of the problem
rather than just manage the effects that the underlying problem has caused. What follows is a troubleshooting guide

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to rectify some of the most common problems SAFELY these solutions are bulleted in the order they should
be investigated:

16.5.1 - Chlorine level and pH level too high or Low (common problems and solutions)
Control Panel Inaccuracy – Standardise and or calibrate control panel

Day Tank(s) Empty - Fill day tank(s)

Day Tank Full but Chemical Not Pumping - This could be a number of problems. If this is the case you will notice
that the sound of the LMI pump sounds louder and it could be for a number of reasons.

Reason 1 - The LMI pump has an airlock due to the day tank running empty. If this is the case there should be a
four way valve at the top of the pump. Turn the black knob clockwise so it feels like it’s stuck in the out position.
Leave it in that position until you hear the pump noise change. A sign of this will also be that the pipe that pumps
the chemical will start to pulsate or move. This process is referred to as ‘priming’.

Reason 2 - The footer valve (which is a non return valve) inside the day tank has come off and chemicals that are
trying to pump up are just falling back into the tank. The solution to this is to put the footer valve back on which
would need to be safely recovered from the bottom of the day tank with the utmost care (a good solution to this is
to use a cheap (children’s type)) fishing net. Once the footer has been reattached the pump can then be primed.

Reason 3 - Blockage between the pump and the pool pipework. The solution to this is to clean out the top of the
pump head, the injector and the pipework. Dismantling the pump head and injector for normal cleaning will resolve
this. If the blockage is in the pipework on the dosing line then an excellent method is to take the pump and
pipework from inside the day tank off (ensuring you have isolated them first). Place the pipe with the injection
footer into a bucket of hot water with some salt added and turn the pump back on. This method should clean the
pipework.

Reason 4 - Human Error. When the pool test has been undertaken the water sample when having had a DPD1
tablet appears to just go cloudy. This indicates the chlorine level is too high and the tablet is being ‘bleached’ out.
The solution to this is to do a drop test where pool water is diluted to 50% with tap water and re-sampled. If
bleaching occurs again then a 25% pool water to 75% tap water is undertaken and so on. The reading in the case
of a 50% sample would need to doubled (e.g. sample reading was 4.5ppm / mgpl free chlorine the actual reading
would be 9.0ppm / mgpl.

Chemical Range Statement – If the pH goes below 7.0 or above 8.0 or the chlorine level goes above
5.0ppm / mgpl (though maximum free chlorine levels of 10ppm / mgpl have been suggested)
immediate action must be taken (even if this means closing the pool).At the other end of the
spectrum if free chlorine is too low this will not be bacterialogically safe and the pool is also likely to
go cloudy and be dangerous to swim in.

NEVER TAKE A CHANCE, CLOSE THE POOL!!

16.5.2 - Combined Chlorine, TDS or Organic Chloramines Too High


In this case the ‘solution to pollution is dilution’ - only backwashing will remedy this.

16.5.3 - pH Lock and pH Bounce / Increasing, Decreasing and maintaining total akalinity
Explanations of these terms are covered earlier under ‘water standards’. If the pH appears like this then the first
thing to do is to take a total alkalinity test to gauge the extent of the problem. The total alkalinity level will need to
be adjusted to break the lock or stabilise the bounce. To reduce total alkalinity you would need to add an acid the
correct level of acid needed to do this will be in your manufacturers /chemical suppliers operating guidelines.

To increase total alkalinity, add Sodium Bicarbonate to the balance tanks at the rate of approximately 1kg per 50m3
of pool water to raise total alkalinity by 10ppm / mgpl. An example would be that a pool with a combined pool
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volume (remembering to account for balance tanks, pipework and filters) that required a 20ppm / mgpl increase
would need approximately would require 4kg of sodium bicarbonate.

16.5.4 - Calcium Hardness


To increase calcium hardness add calcium chloride to the balance tanks at the approximately the same
concentration method as that used for total alkalinity.

16.5.5 - Shock / Hand Dosing


Once a need for immediate action has been determined and the cause of the problem has been identified and
rectified emergency chemical dosing may be undertaken. This type of dosing should never be done whilst bathers
are present and chemicals must never be added directly to the pool. This should only be done in accordance with
company standards for the correct measures for dosing of this kind (see the hand dosing guidance section within
this topic).

16.5.6 - Hand Dosing Guidance


Prior to contemplating hand dosing the pool operators must follow this procedure:
 Hand dosing only to be undertaken by experienced operators after initial problem analysis
 Hand dosing can only be done with two members of staff present who should both have had pool plant
and COSHH training.
 Ensure hand dosing is only done to the balance tank and when bathers are not present
 Obtain the volume of the water in the pool (length (x) width (x) average depth plus an approximation
for the size of the balance tank, pipework and filtration systems
 Add the required amount of chemical as per the manufacturers guidelines
 Ensure chemical levels are tested and are safe prior to allowing entry to pool for bathers

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