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Tips on Maintaining Safe Swimming Spaces

By Jonathan Roberts


Many may not think the grating in gutters around the pool perimeter to be the most obvious safety hazard. However, accidents caused by broken, bent or sagging grates can cause significant injury to bathers' hands and feet, as well as create a trip hazard. Many health codes specify the maximum space between the gratings cannot exceed 0.375 inches. Those pools that have violated this code have been shut down by health inspectors until the facility can rectify the problem.

Aquatic facilities need to have a daily inspection process in place (especially in-season) to examine all pool grating. Not only can grating crack, but the supports holding it in place can also break, causing it to sag and become a trip hazard, or an area where a bather's toe or finger can become trapped. Replacing the damaged grating immediately is the best way to ensure the pool area and patrons remain safe.

There are several options available for pool grating replacement. In fact, some facilities install new grating in high-traffic areas every season to ensure safety. When doing so, it is a good idea to look for grating that is compatible with the existing conditions. Grating fabricated of PVC can provide a quick, cost-effective solution. It should also come with a certified slip-resistant texture.

Those aquatic facilities looking for a long-term solution also have the option of using granite grating. This product, as the name suggests, is made of granite and will last for more than 30 years. It comprises a single-piece product in which the slots are fixed so there is no risk of breaking the grates during normal pool usage.


Pool decks are often overlooked as a dangerous part of an aquatic facility. Older, cracked or peeling decks cause injury from slippery surfaces, cut feet from cracks or even burns from sun exposure. To rectify any one of these problems, pool decks can be entirely covered with PVC flooring. This flooring encapsulates and makes any deck area waterproof and slip-resistant.

Constructed of a thick, reinforced-PVC membrane, this flooring can be used in any recreational area where slip-resistance, watertight integrity and long-term ease of maintenance are required. The PVC also incorporates an anti-fungal formulation that is easy to clean, making it ideal for pool decks, spraygrounds or locker rooms.

This flooring can also be installed over foam for added comfort in active aging applications or wherever extra fall protection is required.

Aquatic facilities that have well-constructed decks might still benefit from added safety mats that can be placed at entrances and exits of any pool type, where most slipping occurs. These textured, self-draining mats are designed to minimize slippage and, depending on a facility's requirements, can be provided in various sizes. Similarly, there are textured "shower circles" that can be placed in shower areas to also help prevent slip-and-fall accidents.


Safety grip rail covers help promote safety and reduce liability by providing a better gripping surface than a bare-hand railing. These covers are made from a commercial-grade poly fabric blend with ultraviolet (UV) light inhibitors. They are simply installed over the railing and zipped into place.

Handrails can often become loose and unstable. Therefore, routine inspections around the pool should include handrail checks. In some cases, stabilizer plugs can be used to help facilities ensure the handrails remain safe.

Handrails that are experiencing corrosion should be examined and replaced. Corrosion of stainless steel rails is becoming much more common now that salt chlorine generators have become popular in commercial applications. Depending on the degree of corrosion, handrails can be replaced with powder-coated or thermoplastic covered rails which not only resist corrosion, but also are easier to grip and cooler to the touch than traditional stainless steel.

Taking Time and Effort to Ensure Safety

Ensuring aquatic facilities remain safe takes time and effort. Having a daily, weekly and monthly maintenance routine and checklist is a good way to keep abreast of any potential safety hazards. The products mentioned in this article are only a few examples of what is available to help make various areas of a facility safer for patrons. It should also be noted, the areas mentioned for consideration are outside of the mandated items such as safety drains, anti-entrapment, first-aid kits, lifeguard stands and safety signage requirements. Aquatic facilities that are well informed of the many options available to make the pool and surrounding areas safer will have happy patrons and smooth, uninterrupted operations.

Johnathan Roberts is a division manager with PoolEquip LLC in Indianapolis, and oversees the sales and production of the company's DuraTech Grating and SoftSide Safety Padding products. His product knowledge, in addition to a varied background in the construction industry, allows him to offer industry professionals safe, high-quality and aesthetically pleasing solutions for new construction and renovation projects. For more information, visit www.poolequip.com.