Health and Family Services Cabinet
Pool Owners Should be Aware of New Federal Law
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and Office of Attorney General (OAG) want the public to be aware of a new federal law addressing concerns related to pool and spa drains.
The Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Pool and Spa Safety Act, which took effect December 2008, requires public pools to implement additional safety measures that minimize suction and entrapment hazards.
“As public health officials, it is our duty to try to ensure the safety and well-being of the people of our state, especially Kentucky’s young people,” said DPH Commissioner William Hacker, M.D. “The Virginia Graeme Baker law helps us better protect the public from swimming safety hazards, but it’s also important for swimmers to keep some simple safety measures in mind, such as avoiding all drains and suction outlets and tying back long hair.”
The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is in charge of implementation and oversight of the law across the country. However, DPH, local health departments and the OAG will monitor compliance of public pools and spas in Kentucky. The CPSC may also monitor for compliance of the law.
“Kentucky is working to balance federal requirements with community needs and safety,” said Guy Delius, director of the division of public health protection and safety in DPH. “We have informed pool owners of the federal requirements, conducted statewide trainings for public health staff, coordinated efforts with other agencies like the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, and are conducting active inspections and monitoring to confirm compliance.”
Enforcement efforts initially will be focused on the highest risk pools (typically children’s pools or wading pools and spas with single main drains) that pose an immediate danger to public safety. Pools and spas operating without being in compliance with the VGB Act are subject to court or administrative action, including immediate closure.
Any pool or spa not complying with the law may also be subject to federal penalties and closure through enforcement actions.
Pool owners have been asked to provide written confirmation that their pools are in compliance with the new standards or to provide a list of upgrades they plan to make to be in compliance. If substantial changes are necessary to bring a pool into compliance, plans drawn by an engineer or architect may be necessary for submission to the local health department. Plans must be submitted to the local health department prior to any construction.
“We are pleased to have joined the Department for Public Health in helping ensure this federal legislation is embraced in Kentucky and that public pools comply with the new requirements to prevent any injuries or deaths from pool drain entrapments,” said Todd Leatherman, director of the Office of Consumer Protection for the OAG. “I urge parents to take an active role in ensuring that our children swim safely - ask your pool or spa operator if the pool complies with the new federal standards for drain safety.”
For more information, please visit the CPSC’s Web site at www.cspc.gov or the state Swimming Pool Safety Web site at http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/poolsafety.htm. You may also contact your local health department or the DPH public safety branch at (502) 564-4537.