Many caretaking agreements contain a clause along the following lines.
The caretaker must maintain and clean the swimming pool and spa on a regular basis using equipment and materials supplied by and at the cost of the owners’ corporation.
It is clear that it is the caretaker’s responsibility to attend to the daily cleaning of the swimming pool. However, the water becomes a bit murky when it comes to working out whose responsibility it is to regularly test and chemically balance the water in the pool and spa.
In short, I believe that the testing and the chemical balancing of the pool is the responsibility of a specialist tradesman and not the caretaker. More importantly, why would a prudent executive committee even take the risk of demanding that the caretaker carry out this duty when the consequences of getting it wrong can be so financially detrimental to the owners?
When looking at the issue, I believe that the starting point is the Public Swimming Pool and Spa Pool Guidelines issued by the NSW government.
The essential purpose of the guidelines is to specify minimum levels of chemicals and disinfectants for treated water in public swimming pools and public spa pools, with specific application to municipal swimming pools and spas as well as pools and spas in hotels and motels, clubs, schools, gymnasiums and health resorts, squash and tennis centres, recreational resorts, hospitals (hydrotherapy pools), workplaces and places of adult entertainment. However, the guidelines also make it clear that they have equal application to all swimming pools and spas.
The guidelines go on to provide that a “pool operator” (being the person nominated to be in charge of the pool) is required to have a sound knowledge of:
• pool plant;
• pool maintenance;
• pool disinfection requirements;
• water testing;
• first aid; and
• lifesaving and resuscitation techniques.
When you look at the level of knowledge required by a “pool operator” under the guidelines and when you further take into account the fact that most resort or residential complexes have quite large pools, I believe that a skilled tradesman is reasonably required when it comes to testing the water and (more importantly) attending to the chemical balancing of the water.
Owners’ corporations have a duty of care to their owners, occupiers and/or guests to ensure that all common property pools and spas are fit for their intended use.
Why risk breaching that duty of care by delegating the task to someone who does not reasonably have the specialist knowledge to undertake the work?
Small Myers Hughes