Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

March 2020


Revised VGBA Drain Cover Standard Approved

By Chandler Garland

The Pool and Hot Tub Alliance has announced that a revised ANSI/APSP/ICC-16 2017 ”American National Standard for Suction Outlet Fitting Assemblies (SOFA) for Use in Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs” was approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Originally published in the Federal Register (Vol. 84, No. 101) on May 24, 2019, the updated standards will go into effect on November 24, 2020. This 18-month deadline is longer than the usual, but not restrictive, 30-day implementation requirement of the Administrative Procedure Act because there has been a low injury rate under the APSP-16 2011. And, because the changes made in APSP-16 2017 are minor, the PHTA didn’t feel immediate implementation was warranted.

“Providing a smooth transition is a very high priority for everyone involved,” said PHTA-16 SWC Chair Steve Barnes. “Unlike 2007, this revision is not retroactive. Instead it is a product manufacturing deadline.”

The Virginia Graeme ŹBaker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGBA) is a federal law that requires all public pools and spas, both new and existing, to be equipped with compliant suction outlet fitting assemblies. Under the VGBA, drain covers manufactured on or after Nov. 24, 2020, will be required to comply with the new standard. In the meantime, products certified to one of the prior versions of the standard will continue to be compliant until they expire, or the product is damaged or degraded in any way. It is important to note, this only applies to products that were installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and are in full compliance with the VGBA. Non-compliant installations are not grandfathered and must be replaced before the pool can be opened to users.

The APSP-16 2017 standard establishes materials, testing, use, installation and marketing requirements for new or replacement bather-accessible suction outlet fitting assemblies designed to be fully submerged for use in any pool. It contains changes to hair and body testing requirements; new definitions and new cover labeling requirements; an updated foreword; a non-mandatory Appendix E to help manufacturers, test laboratories and registered design professionals achieve more consistent certification results; and a non-mandatory Appendix F to outline specific sections beyond the authority of the CPSC.

“The PHTA fully recognizes the importance of this standard (as) the only aquatics industry standard referenced under any federal law. We are working closely with test labs, regulators and manufacturers to provide certification consistency across all SOFA product categories,” Barnes added. “These important changes to the VGB Act will help improve public safety, which is everyone’s top priority.”


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