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Thread: Pool & Spa Safety Act

  1. #1
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    Pool & Spa Safety Act

    Is anyone else fearing for their swim program due to the upcoming enforcement of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act?
    I swim in Massachusetts, and there's a possibility our pool will have to close due to compliance issues.
    Anyone else dealing with this? We've been calling our legislators and doing whatever we can, but I think it needs to be a national effort.
    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    For those not familiar, this act covers new requirements and standards around (a) pool/spa suction drains to prevent child entrapment, and (b) fences/barriers around pools.

    Personally, this bill sounds like a good idea to me. I haven't heard a lot of evidence that installing a compliant drain cover, etc., is prohibitively expensive. In most pools, you could probably even install something while the pool is still filled (would require SCUBA or other equipment to do).

    -Rick

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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    One of the major issues is that some pools do not even have the capability of compliance because the appropriate drain covers do not exist for the type of drains they have.
    Another issue is that because of the number of pools seeking to comply, the equipment is just not out there.
    Here's an e-mail I got from someone trying to sort this out at UMASS:
    One thing everyone should understand, the Act is targeted primarily at pools and spas with one main drain. All three of our pools have two main drains and are separated by a distance beyond that which is required. Unfortunately the Act reaches beyond the one main drain provision and requires that all drain covers are to be replaced with “ASME A112.19-2007” certified stamp embossed on the grate. This is the language that has burdened so many pool operators around the country. It does not take into account whether your pool has twenty drains or if your current drain covers are already fashioned for anti-entrapment; it requires you to replace them anyway. You can then easily surmise that the whole country is now trying to procure drain covers with the certified markings, and with a limited amount of distributing vendors and a more limited amount of inventory stock, the price and timeline are basically uncontrollable by the purchaser.

  4. #4
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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    At a meet this past weekend, a swimmer told me that Creighton University in Omaha is closing their pool. They're apparently using this drain issue as their reason for closing.

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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    My daughter was good friends with Graeme, when she drown in a whirlpool in kindergarten. It was very traumatic for her family (obviously) and the community. I see no reason why spas/whirlpools cannot comply with this legislation, and preventable death seems a admirable goal. I literally had nightmares about this for quite awhile.

    The fact that there is limited inventory doesn't seem like a compelling reason not to pass the Act. Surely some capitalist will step and fill the void?

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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    My daughter was good friends with Graeme, when she drown in a whirlpool in kindergarten. It was very traumatic for her family (obviously) and the community. I see no reason why spas/whirlpools cannot comply with this legislation, and preventable death seems a admirable goal. I literally had nightmares about this for quite awhile.

    The fact that there is limited inventory doesn't seem like a compelling reason not to pass the Act. Surely some capitalist will step and fill the void?
    How awful and such a tragedy for the family.

    Can't imagine some opportunistic capitalist not filling the void.

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    This legislation really worries me. I suspect this could cause extended closures--and probably permanent closures--for a huge number of pools across the country. Especially at a time when most cities are under huge budget crunches. It figures no one really worried about it until the final hour. OK, I'm sure lots of pool operators worried about it, but I'm sure many did nothing about it.

  8. #8
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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    Pool operators have had a full year to get pools in compliance with the law:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is again reminding public pool and spa owners and operators nationwide that the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act becomes effective on December 19, 2008. This law requires installation of anti-entrapment drain covers and other systems as outlined in the Act.

    The Pool and Spa Safety Act was enacted by Congress and signed by President Bush on December 19, 2007, and is designed to prevent the tragic and hidden hazard of drain entrapments and eviscerations in pools and spas. Under the law, all public pools and spas must have ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 compliant drain covers installed and a second anti-entrapment system installed, when there is only a single main drain. Congress gave all affected pool and spa operators one year to comply with this law.

    Public pools and spas that operate year-round are expected to be in compliance by December 19, 2008. CPSC staff has taken the position that seasonal public pools and spas that are currently closed must be in compliance with the law on the day that they reopen in 2009.

    “Our mission at the CPSC is to keep American families safe,” said Nancy Nord, CPSC Acting Chairman. “CPSC will enforce the requirements of this pool and spa safety law with a focus on where the greatest risk of drain entrapment to children exists, such as wading pools, pools designed specifically for toddlers and young children, and in-ground spas, particularly where these types of pools and spas have flat drain grates and single main drain systems.”

    Nord added, “State health and enforcement agencies share the responsibility to ensure this law is properly enforced. I recommend these agencies take the same approach as CPSC concerning enforcement priorities.”

    Pool and spa operators are encouraged to continue working as diligently as possible to come into compliance, as the agency and state Attorneys General are empowered to close down any pool or spa that fails to meet the Act’s requirements.

    For more information about the Pool and Spa Safety Act, how to comply, and which companies have been certified to manufacturer drain covers and safety vacuum release systems, please log on to: www.cpsc.gov/whatsnew.html#pool
    The CPSC posted a "How to Comply" memo ( http://www.cpsc.gov/businfo/poolspacomply.pdf ) and a list of 11 manufacturers of the required covers and 7 manufacturers of approved vacuum systems.
    (http://www.cpsc.gov/businfo/draincman.html )
    At this point in the development of our society, there is virtually no writing which has not been plagiarized at least in part from another. I read that somewhere.

    This was no boating accident.


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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    I am more than empathetic to the tragic loss of a child. Last year, my three-year-old nephew died in a terrible, avoidable accident and our entire family is forever changed.

    With this act, however, there are several issues that limit or even prevent compliance. A few local examples from my area: at a local YMCA, the pool drain is on a right angle. The appropriate drain cover does not even exist and despite the fact that this pool does not have a suction problem, it will be forced to close.

    Our town has had to cancel its entire winter swim program, which includes swim instruction for children, thereby lessening water safety instead of enhancing it.

    Our Masters team of 40 swimmers will have no location, despite the fact that we swim at a University and are coached by the men's and women's coaches at UMASS Amherst. The pool will be closed as of Friday and we are devastated, especially since almost every pool in our area will be closing. There are few remaining open at private colleges but there will be no access for our team.

    If you want to save our swim programs, it's vital to call your state legislators and let them know pool operators need more time to comply, and that in some cases, because of pool design, there is no possibility of compliance with the law as written. This is way beyond "some capitalist" stepping up. It's about making our kids safer by keeping access to the pools and facilities that teach them water safety.

  10. #10
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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    This sounds like a law with good intentions, but due to poor language, is having some negative consequences.

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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    It seems like they could limit the age of children allowed in the pool to get around this issue - at least to allow pools facing closure a method around. Perhaps no children under 6 or 8, as this issue primarily only effects very young children.

    Not to make light of this issue, but there seems to be far more pressing and dangerous issues facing children then pool drains. I am open to having pools be safer in any way possible, but closing them down for non-compliance seems like a waste. How about requiring additional lifeguards on staff when a certain portion of the children are under a certain age.

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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    Sydned
    I am very familiar with the act and the response from the aquatic community.
    I will tell you that no public pools in Colorado that I am aware of are currently planning on closing if they can show a good faith attempt to comply (new drain covers on order, etc). Informally, the Consumer Safety Protection Commission has stated that they understand pool operators with "field engineered" drains (i.e. non-standard size) will need more time. Both the state and local health authorities here say they have no authority to enforce the legislation and will not be monitoring for compliance.

    Frankly, this legislation - and the way it is being interpreted, while well intentioned, is having many unintended consequences and will not make the vast majority of public pools any safer than they already are. One ironic consequence is that the new covers stick up quite a bit from the pool bottom. We have one small spa with the new drain cover where we've had several injuries already from people stubbing their toes or tripping.

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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    I too have heard that Colorado is not going to be awful to pools that are showing their best effort.

    Unfortunately, where I live in Massachusetts, the state is really being hardcore about enforcement.

    I also have an important link that gives a lot of specific information about the act and the repercussions. It's from the National Swimming Pool Foundation.

    http://www.nspf.org/FPSSA.html

    I encourage you to check it out.

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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    We just got notice today that Harvard's pool is closed for emergency maintenance tomorrow, but with no announced re-open plan. I suspect the drain situation is the culprit.

    City of Boston has said they are closing 19 out of their 20 pools in community centers starting tomorrow.

    -Rick

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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    Quote Originally Posted by osterber View Post
    We just got notice today that Harvard's pool is closed for emergency maintenance tomorrow, but with no announced re-open plan. I suspect the drain situation is the culprit.

    City of Boston has said they are closing 19 out of their 20 pools in community centers starting tomorrow.

    -Rick
    That's going to take a while to drain and refill!



    .

  16. #16
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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    Unclear if remediation requires a pool drain. Installation by someone with a SCUBA tank may be sufficient.

    -Rick

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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    We also got notice today that our pools will definitely be closed as of tomorrow. We went out after practice tonight, to commiserate.

    I spoke with someone at the Department of Public Health today, the area of Environmental Health. This is the office basically ensuring compliance in Massachusetts. The man I spoke with had just gotten off the phone with the people at the pool at Harvard so I know that's the reason the Harvard pool is closing.

    One place to call, besides our state legislators, would be the Consumer Products Safety Commission at (301) 504-7923. They need to be made aware that many pools are currently unable to comply due to lack of available materials. The pool I swim in, at UMASS Amherst, has a right angle drain, with a gravity, not suction, system. Despite that, we are closed as of today. Ugh.

    At this point, it's looking like only work done by our legislators will get anything done, and then, not until Congress is back in session.

  18. #18
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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    An informal survey of public pool operators in Colorado indicates no facilities closing due to VGB if the pools have "unblockable" main drains.

  19. #19
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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    It is part of the regulation that if the drains are unblockable, then the cover is not required. I believe it says that the drain opening needs to be 24x18 inches or larger to qualify as unblockable.

    -Rick

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    Re: Pool & Spa Safety Act

    The CPSC has interpreted the Act to mean all drains need anti-entrapment covers regardles of whether or not they are blockable. It is this interpretation that has everyone in the industry so worked up: except the pool supply companies and drain cover manufactureres of course.

    Part of the stimulous package?

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