How Maintenance Personnel Are Making Pools and Spas Safer

To ensure safety in your pool area, facilities need to meet the minimum requirements. Our pool maintenance and safety tips will help you understand your duties and legal obligations so you can keep your tenants and guests safe.

What Laws Apply to Pool Maintenance Staff?     

Ensure your pool is safe for everyone

Learn about the possible dangers in pools and spas from drain covers that are missing, broken, or non-compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act.

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, also known as the VGBA or P&SS Act, was passed in 2007. This act was designed to prevent the tragedies in the hidden hazard of drain entrapments in pools and spas.

The P&SS Act was designed to reduce the likelihood of future deaths and bodily injuries related to pool and spa drain entrapment, which a Congressional inquest found to be preventable with certain safety features. The laws include various requirements for pool manufacturers and owners, but they also have a huge impact on maintenance personnel who conduct repairs and upkeep.

Which Parts of the P&SS Act Apply to You?

This law covers a number of potentially hazardous situations, such as the entrapment of limbs, hair, clothing, and jewelry. At the federal level, this means that pool and spa drains need to meet minimum safety standards published by several associations, including:

  • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or ASME 
  • The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, or APSP 
  •  The American National Standards Institute, or ANSI 

With proper planning, you can ensure a safe swimming area for everyone


These design and usage guidelines are contained in the ANSI/ASME A112.19.8 standard and the ANSI/APSP-16 2011 standard that succeeded it.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your outdated pool equipment will be grandfathered in; facilities with older drain covers that fall short of the standards need to be retrofitted as well. Also, bear in mind that the P&SS Act’s federal requirements apply to more than just drain guards and entrapment barriers. Publicly accessible pools and spas should also incorporate:


  • Vents that limit suction force 
  • Safety release systems that automatically reverse or disable pumps 
  • Safety equipment like slip-resistant mats, life rings, and pool handrail covers 
  • Pool & spa signs to display pool rules, hours, and warnings 
  • Pool passes to control and monitor pool usage 


Keeping Up With the Law

Many maintenance professionals operate under the mistaken assumption that they no longer need to replace drain covers that were previously upgraded to comply with the P&SS Act. In reality, however, P&SS-compliant drain covers only have a useful lifespan of five years.

Other modifications may also affect your legal standing and maintenance obligations. For instance, pool drain covers should be kept visible and clearly labelled with their maximum flow rate specifications for easy inspection. Because this maximum flow rating must exceed that of your pool, upgrading pool pumps and similar components could make it necessary to install new covers.

The P&SS Act is complex, but with proper planning, you can institute a fully compliant, safe swimming area that attracts visitors and property buyers alike.

Learn More!

Check out our Pool Resources

Find out more about pool safety signs, pool care, and laws your maintenance staff needs to master to ensure your customers have a safe and happy experience at your pool.

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