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The Olympics, regulations and safety

Posted by Sjoerd van der Hoorn on August 12, 2016 at 12:10 PM

If you have watched the Olympics, you probably noticed the lifeguards around the pools. In a setting where Olympians swim, you may be asking yourself: "Why the need for lifeguards?" 

Even Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea who learned to swim only a few months before the 2000 Sydney Olympics swam 100 meters without assistance.

Brazilian laws describe how there has to be a lifeguard on duty for each pool that is six by six meters or more. Countries that organize the Olympics have to obey the rules set by the International Olympic Committee. It still seems pretty silly that they did not grant an exemption for the Olympic pools, but if we take a closer look, it actually makes sense.

Look around the pool. You can see most athletes only show up minutes before they are due. Some of them wear a hoody—to stay warm but also to stay focused and “in the zone". The others usually do warm ups or apply other techniques to prepare themselves for the match. Surely enough, if they happen to fall in the water, they'll be perfectly fineswimming to the side and climbing out of the pool. Even if the swimmers hit their head and get knocked out, all eyes are on them and surely someone will jump in to save them.

However, more than half of the people around the pool aren’t athletes. They are either facilitating the event, handling cameras, cleaning, or the like. Let's suppose one of the crew members falls into the pool? Do we expect all athletes to stand up and jump in after him or her? Will they even think about it, considering they may get injured and will be unable to attend their game? How about other people that can swim? Or the ones that can’t, but still try to rescue someone? 

Having a dedicated lifeguard mitigates most of these risks. Hopefully they don't have to take action during this event. The same applies to your car's air bags. You only miss them when you need them. Would you not be more relieved for your local fire department to sit idle rather than having to rush out all the time? Looking at it that way, it's not so strange that Brazilian regulators assigned to have lifeguards at this year's summer Olympics. 

In the past, I have worked with training departments of several Brazilian companies. They also found themselves strangled in odd regulations every now and then. While some processes were fine one day, two weeks later they would have to look at it again because someone in an office came up with another “silly” rule. By the time the new rule was implemented, things were reverted back to the initial state. It even happened that two contradicting laws were applied at the same time. Sometimes people got the same training multiple times, just because it all of a sudden became mandatory to use apparatus X instead of Y. 

Working with these teams, I was able to help them adapt to the updated regulations. Sometimes, their software solution was lacking regulatory insight where they received official updates once or twice a year. I quickly realized that this was an inefficient approach due to the manual labor involved. Luckily at EHS Insight, we have an agile mentality and push regular updates to all of our clients. Whenever there is a regulatory changeor a new standard we learn aboutwe swiftly implement it and turn it around to our users. Besides that, we provide easy to use click and play tools that allow organizations to adapt to our software. We are happy to provide you with your own personal Olympic lifeguard, 24/7, 12 months a year!

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Topics: Trends, In the News, Compliance

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