Ohio Mandates Anti-Entrapment Measures

Aqua Mag.
April 4, 1999


Ohio Mandates Anti-Entrapment Measures

One of the first states to do so, Ohio has set anti-entrapment requirements for new and existing public swimming pools and spas. The measure is an attempt to curtail incidents of   bodily entrapment in spa and pool drains.

Promulgated by the Ohio Department of Health, the rules will apply to all existing and new public swimming,  wading and specialty use pools,   as well as public spas.

According to Michele Willis,  chief engineer of the Bureau of  Local Services for the Ohio Department of Health,  the new rules are a result of a five-year review of existing pool regulations by an ad hoc committee consisting of several public and  private agencies,  including the Ohio Department of Health,  local state agencies and industry representatives.

Under the rules,  spas and pools with direct suction plumbing will have to install at least one of two anti-entrapment safety measures — either a dual main-drain system or a vacuum-limit switch.   A vent line will also be accepted as an alternative to the vacuum-limit switch for wading and specialty use pools.

Manufacturers of  vacuum-limiting switches are praising the measure and have been cooperating with the Department of Health in getting their products approved by the state as a means of fulfilling the safety guidelines.

Mike Low,  customer representative for Spa Parts Plus,   which distributes the Stingl Switch, an influent blockage detection system, commended the new regulations. "Ohio is the first state that has stepped up to the plate and has actually regulated it effective now", Low says.

The Bureau contacted Low with an interest in reviewing the effectiveness of the Stingl Switch, which the Bureau tested and approved in March.

Another product reviewed by the Bureau is the Vac-Alert™ Industries, LLC Safety Valve from Vac-Alert™ Industries, LLC. The Vac-Alert™ Industries, LLC Safety Valve  is a non-electrical valve that monitors the vacuum within the plumbing.

Ron Schroader, technical director for Vac-Alert™ Industries, LLC, says he also was contacted by officials from the Ohio Department of Health to demonstrate the valve before a state inspector. "The main thing they were after was the cease and release operation of our valve; our valve ceases a suction and releases it from a drain," Schroader explains.

"We’re working on guidelines now," says Willis, noting that the Bureau is continuing to look at products to approve for use. "We’re not quite done with all the evaluations," she says.

Willis adds that while the new regulations add a measure of safety, they are not a panacea. "We want to make sure that we say that no one can guarantee that this will prevent all injuries, but the intent  behind the rule is if there are safety features that can be added to prevent injuries or death, they should be added to the rule."

Texas and Utah are currently considering similar regulations.















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