The UK’s first national database holding details of all water-related deaths and injuries will be unveiled next month at RoSPA’s National Water Safety Congress.
The Water Accident Injury Database (WAID) will be launched at the event in Cardiff on November 9.
WAID, developed by members of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) including RoSPA, will allow new levels of both detail and volume in the collection of data on drowning, which remains one of the leading causes of accidental death in the UK. The most recent figures suggest that approximately 345 people drowned accidentally in the UK in 2007.
Details of reported non-fatal drowning, near misses and other water-related injuries will also be stored in the new database.
The launch of the Department for Transport-funded WAID epitomises congress’s theme and title - From Principles to Practice. The collection of data will help the common causes of accidental drowning to be identified, enabling targeted prevention strategies to be developed.
The conference theme follows on from last year’s National Water Safety Congress, at which a set of principles for a balanced approach to managing water risk was launched.
Congress will also include discussion of topical water safety issues, such as questions prompted by the spate of drownings at the start of summer, particularly about the role of safety professionals and the acceptability of water risks to wider society.
Peter Cornall, RoSPA head of leisure safety, said: “Managing water risk involves balancing the right to make informed choices against the impact of those choices on society in general.
“But with more people staying in the UK for breaks and an increase in the number of visits to the coast and other water sites, these deliberations are far from academic.
“Water safety professionals face a lot of pressure to strike a fair balance for everyone, not least from the legitimate demand for action in the wake of incidents.
“By providing detailed evidence for us to work with, the development of WAID will be an important step in helping to inform that balance and wider water safety strategy.”
Other topics in the spotlight at the event at the Cardiff Hilton from November 9 – 10 include landowner liability, coastal access, and developments at the NWSF. There will also be an update on research - funded through the RoSPA/BNFL scholarship scheme - on the physiological effects of immersion in cold water.
The event, which features speakers from the UK and beyond, is being run in association with the NWSF, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Cardiff Harbour Authority and United Utilities.
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