Law Designed to Prevent Pool & Spa Drain Entrapment Accidents Largely Ineffective


June 27, 2011

Summer has arrived, and families throughout Georgia are trying to stay cool by swimming in pools and relaxing in spas at home and on vacation. While the pool or spa can be a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the summer, it can also be the cause of considerable danger.

Many Atlanta and Georgia residents are aware of the risk posed by drain entrapment accidents, but also presume that the changes in the law and industry standards have largely alleviated this danger. A pool entrapment accident occurs when a person is trapped by the suction of the pool or spa drain caused by the pump so that they are trapped under water. These spa entrapment accidents can result in drowning or disembowelment. While the federal government has taken steps to reduce the risk of pool and spa entrapment accidents, even the most recent measures have been largely ineffective.

The federal government passed the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act in 2007 that was designed to improve pool and spa safety and reduce entrapment accidents. The act bears the name of the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker who died in a spa entrapment accident in Virginia. While the act was intended to prevent drain entrapment accidents, implementation has been slow and substantial portions of the measure have been rendered ineffective.

A recent massive recall of over a million spa drain covers that were designed to comply with the legislation and prevent drain entrapment accidents provide evidence of the uneven implementation of the legislation. The spa drain cover recall applied to spa drain covers manufactured by eight separate companies including Custom Molded Products in Tyrone, GA.

The problems are two-fold and include both pool owners like those involved in the recent recall who took affirmative steps to improve the safety of their pool and spa only to find out the new drain covers were unsafe, as well as those who have not taken steps to comply with the spa and pool drain safety law. There are a litany of issues that have arisen with implementation of the legislation including:

State Inaction: The law set-aside $4 million to facilitate implementation of the act by states to promote compliance with federal safety standards but not a single state has taken advantage of these funds.

Lack of Enforcement: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has failed to conduct inspections on a consistent basis so there has been minimal to no compliance. According to a recent article in the USA Today, the CSPC was unable to provide any data on how many inspections have been conducted since the Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act has been in effect. The Agency has reportedly contracted with a number of state and local health departments to conduct inspections but the pools covered under the contracts amount to only one percent of the commercial pools in the U.S. The contracts also do not cover private residential pools that are estimated to total in excess of 16 million.

Industry Push Back: The pool and spa industry has successfully lobbied the CPSC to have significant portions of the legislation blocked. The CPSC under industry pressure removed a requirement under the legislation that mandated automatic drain shutoff switches be installed. The switches were supposed to provide an important backup safety measure particularly in cases where drain covers were removed or improperly installed.

We encourage parents in Atlanta and throughout Georgia to carefully supervise their children when they are using a pool and spa, and to instruct them to stay away from drains. We also urge pool owners to confirm that their pool and spa covers are in place and that they comply with federal safety standards. If you or a family member has been seriously injured or killed in a spa entrapment or other pool accident anywhere in Georgia, call us today to learn about your rights.  We have been representing accident victims throughout Georgia for over 27 years.

Our Georgia swimming pool accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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