Patrons of ocean pools confront a range of natural hazards. Falling rocks, slippery surfaces, waves and wildlife pose risks of injury to bathers at ocean pools. Big waves can wash bathers out to sea and onto rocks. Divers risk head injuries in shallow ocean baths, especially at low tide.
Attitudes to the management of these risks have changed over time. Nineteenth-century bathers were expected to be prudent enough not to swim in dangerous seas. In general, the pleasures of a ‘dip’ were thought to outweigh any cuts and scratches sustained in the process when the baths were seen as a far safer bathing places than shark-infested surf beaches with their dangerous rip.
By the late twentieth century, people were more likely to seek compensation from councils for injuries sustained at ocean baths or other council-controlled recreational spaces. Councils found the cost of the public liability insurance rising to barely affordable levels and sought to minimise their risk exposure.
Insurance costs relating to ocean pools may however be far less of a concern than the insurance costs relating to its more dangerous and far more heavily used surf beaches. Concerns about insurance costs at the ocean pools can still be remain most significant for smaller, poorer coastal councils. One of the consequences of this is that the smaller, poorer councils erect ever more intimidating warning signs at their ocean pools.