Date: April 12, 2012
On September 28, 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to revoke a prior "interpretive rule" defining unblockable pool drains, potentially imposing yet another change on apartment communities. (Federal Register Notice: http://1.usa.gov/rC9B3i). On April 5, 2012, the Commission voted to etend the compliance date for this revised interpretation from May 28, 2012 to May 23, 2013.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety (VGB) Act required all pool drains be replaced with new VGB-compliant covers by December 2008. It also required owners of pools with single main drains to install a second anti-entrapment system, such as an automatic pump shut-off or a gravity drainage system, unless the main drain is "unblockable."
In 2010, the CPSC issued guidance allowing owners to install a large unblockable drain cover over small single main drains to satisfy the requirements and eliminate the need for secondary anti-entrapment devices.
The September 28 vote reverses this position and amends its Staff Technical Guidance to state "placing a removable unblockable drain cover over a blockable drain shall not constitute an unblockable drain."
By revoking this interpretation, pool operators who followed this guidance, i.e., placed a compliant cover over a smaller blockable drain, may now be deemed non-compliant with the VGBA. Pools with multiple drains are not affected by this decision.
The revised CPSC guidance will define unblockable to mean a "suction outlet, including the sump, that has a perforated (open) area that cannot be shadowed by the area of the 18" X 23" Body Blocking Element of ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007, and that the rated flow through any portion of the remaining open area cannot create a suction force in excess of the removal force values in table 1 of that Standard."
Compliance Deadline Extension
On April 5, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted in a 3-1 decision to extend the compliance date until May 23, 2013, for pool owners/operators who have installed an “unblockable” drain cover based on the Commission’s original interpretive guidance of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act (VGBA). The vote was in response to comments to the proposed rule that underscored the hurdles for pool operators’ to come into compliance with the new interpretation by the original deadline of May 28, 2012. The staff found that the lack of reported injuries, combined with the potentially adverse financial effects for those who relied on the CPSC's guidance, triggered a need for delayed enforcement.
On December 12, NMHC/NAA submitted these comments to the CPSC. NMHC/NAA's comments highlighted our industry's frustrations over the Act's broader compliance issues, i.e. those associated with the initial drain cover requirements, a subsequent manufacturer recall of May 2011 and the lack of guidance from the CPSC. We asked the CPSC to establish a system for responding to inquiries about proposed system designs to aid in compliance. We also requested that the CPSC monitor and evaluate owner/operator progress in coming compliant with the new requirements and consider amending the enforcement date accordingly.
- CPSC Launches New Pool Safety Videos
- CPSC Notice: Revoking Interpretation of Unblockable Drain
- NMHC Comments on Revised Unblockable Drain Interpretation
- NMHC/NAA Survey Results: Cost of Pool Drain Compliance Survey
- Guidance: Federal Pool Safety Requirements under the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
- CPSC Issues Voluntary Recall of Pool and Spa Drains