Feature Article - June 2011
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A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities

By Emily Tipping

Compliance Questions

While more respondents reported this year that they are in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, there is still a substantial percentage who do not know if they are in compliance or not.

Last year, 76.8 percent of respondents indicated that they are in compliance with the act, which aims to prevent entrapment by requiring specific types of drain covers and, in some cases, safety vacuum release systems. This year, that number jumped to 79.1 percent.

At the same time, 20.1 percent of respondents this year indicated that they do not know if they are in compliance. (See Figure 38.)

Tom Lachocki, Ph.D., CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF), said these results are less surprising when you consider how few states require any type of education for pool operators. "In my role in the foundation, the focus on education is important," he said. "Yet we still live in a country where more than half of the states have no verifiable minimal educational requirement for people operating public pools. It's tragic."

He added, "The question that comes up is, who's letting them know that there's a pool and spa safety act? Who's letting them know there are new ADA requirements? Who's telling them about advances in RWI prevention? Drowning prevention? Reduction in chemical exposure?"

The first module of the new Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) is entirely focused on operator training.

"The science is obvious," Lachocki said, "that even a little basic training will help people understand and prevent risks. … The standard of care in our field has evolved to having a basic minimal training for people who take care of pools."

He emphasized that this is not a four-year degree, but a simple two-day class, and many can complete their training online via e-learning.

"Is someone taking a class like this going to become an expert in preventing every type of risk? No. But they'll become more aware of what the risks are to raise issues with management or subordinates operating the pools to make those things go away. We can't expect people to eliminate risks when they don't even know the risks exist."