Pool owners and operators need to comply with the Pool and Spa Safety Act.
Promoting pool safety is not always simple. One would think the thought of a swimmer being entrapped by a drain resulting in devastating injuries or death might motivate pool owners and operators around the country to abide by the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. Unfortunately, that is not true. Pool and spa officials have said that this law is not actually enforced enough to justify following it. This is true even though pools and spas can be brought into compliance with the law for as little as $1,500.00 in most cases. Moreover, the law was passed in December 2007, and it did not go into effect until the end of the following year, so most pool owners and operators have had time to begin the process of retro fitting their pools and spas.
The act is a federal regulation that requires public pools and spas to install layers of protection to prevent drain entrapment. Drain entrapment can occur when a swimmer becomes trapped from the suction power of a drain. The federal law states that all single-drain public pools and spas are required to install an anti-entrapment device, such as a safety vacuum release system. Moreover, all pools and spas must also install approved safety drain covers, no matter how many drains the pool has.
Public pool and spa owners and operators were ignoring the law because they believed the law would never be properly enforced. They were wrong. In September, The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ordered a group of non-compliant Ohio pools to “immediately stop operating the pool or spa until it can be brought into compliance with the VGBA.” CPSC went on to warn that litigation could follow until the pools were brought into compliance. The threat of this litigation is not only very real, but expensive. Fines total $100,000.00 per offense and can increase up to $15 million. Two civil suits have already been brought against non-compliant pools in the past two months, and CPSC lawsuits may not be far behind.
Roberts and Roberts applauds the Consumer Product Safety Commission for taking a position of leadership on enforcing compliance with the Pool and Spa Safety Act. Truth be told, those public pool owners and operators should not have opened their pools to begin with. Pools are a source of great fun and leisure, but make no mistake; any public pool or spa that is operating out-of-compliance with the law puts swimmers at serious risk. Some pools will receive letters from the CPSC ordering them to close until they address the issue. Many more will likely try to ignore the law, hoping that the Pool and Spa Safety Act will just go away if ignored. Such an attitude is against the law. Putting swimmers in danger just to get out of installing modestly priced safeguards is immoral. Any accidents that happen at a non-compliant pool will be on the conscience of those owners and operators who chose to put their swimmers at risk by doing nothing.