Guest Column - October 2009
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Pools & Aquatics

Cracking the Code to Safety
Prevent Pool Shutdowns and Keep Patrons Safe

By Dave Purkiss

A Code-Focused Approach: Doing Your Part

Keeping facilities safe for patrons is an important responsibility, but one that is certainly much more achievable if operators take a proactive, "code-focused" approach. While environmental health inspectors are doing their jobs—and doing them well—not only are there limited numbers of inspectors who audit recreational water facilities, but their responsibilities extend into areas beyond recreational water facilities.

In fact, 98 percent of professionals surveyed said they are required to conduct inspections at locations in addition to recreational water facilities, such as restaurants and water wells. Because environmental health inspectors balance multiple responsibilities and simply cannot be everywhere at once, facility owners and operators must take action to ensure the health and well-being of their patrons in between health inspector visits. And, the easiest way to achieve this is through operators properly educating themselves and their staff on relevant codes.

As pool patrons continue to enjoy another swimming season, consider the importance of working in tandem with environmental health professionals to keep facilities within the proper code requirements this year and always. The health of your patrons depends on it.

Action Steps: What Operators Can Do

There are many easy-to-follow action steps that operators can take to keep facilities safe. Here are some helpful tips pool operators should consider:

  • Ask your environmental health professional to provide copies of codes, monthly forms and guidance documents for easy reference in between visits. Operators can also access codes via local and government agencies or on the Internet.
  • Educate all staff members on a regular basis about regulatory codes. Some environmental health professionals may even offer training to pool employees on the inspection process and what codes and regulations mean.
  • Always maintain accurate records.
  • Set up a regular routine for checking pool water.
  • Invite local health officials to the pool to review codes prior to opening so staff can make themselves familiar with them and know what is expected on a daily basis.
  • Follow the manufacturers' recommendations for the use of equipment and chemicals without exception.

These are just a few easy-to-follow action steps that pool operators should consider as part of a comprehensive plan to keep their recreational water facilities safe. For more information on the joint survey, visit


Dave Purkiss is general manager of Water Treatment and Distribution Products program at NSF International. Dave has worked for NSF for 22 years. Dave holds a bachelor's in biochemistry from Michigan State University and serves on the AWWA Polyelectrolytes Standards Committee, AWWA Utility Quality Management Programs Committee and the NSF International Recreational Water Products Joint Committee.