Holiday Inn, Downtown Johnstown, PA. March 21 & 22, 2017.  814-266-2236.  Registration cutoff 6 PM today (March 3, 2017).

NSPF® CPO® Class

PA Pesticide Recertification Credits – March 22, 2017.  6 Core & 4 Category 24 (Swimming Pools)

814-266-2236.


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Institutional knowledge is information that is contained within the memories of people within an organization.  Much is acquired through years of experiential learning; repetition of tasks, sometimes casual observation of others performing the tasks, “rule(s) of thumb” passed on from others.  Indeed, many times we seem to value experience over “book learning.”  We like our institutional knowledge.

And, there’s significant internal momentum to value institutional knowledge.  The possessor of the knowledge likely finds it empowering.  They know something others don’t.  “If anybody needs to know, they’ll have to come to me.”  If you know something that needs to be passed on to a new hire, especially if it’s technical, chances are your boss will ask you to “show the newbie.” Job security! Plus, it gives you bargaining power with your boss.

Oftentimes, your boss likes institutional knowledge, too. Instant delegation!  He or she doesn’t have to spend time training the “newb.” They can get credit for a trained employee, but don’t have to do the leg-work.

The problem is, institutional knowledge is – well – a problem. Minor variations in verbal story-telling can profoundly affect the information retained by the new employee. And, the point of training is to affect behavior.  What an employee does at the point of action is why we have employees.  If they do it right – great!  But, what if they do it wrong?  “Well, Bob showed me that…”  How can your organization have accountability like that?

There are 2 big problems with institutional knowledge:

  1. It’s often wrong.  In many cases it’s little more than hearsay.  Without a source document and a prescribed process to transmit information, it is very easy for a tidbit to become miss-stated.  A hotel swimming pool volume of 47, 484 gallons will very often get rounded.  But, which way did whomever round it? And, by how much?  Then, without a reference, somebody takes the rounded number, challenges it and a new number becomes cast into the body of institutional knowledge.  So, after 20 years, what’s right?
  2. There is no continuity.  If the possessor leaves, where does the knowledge go?  “I heard Jane say that we should push this button once a week.”  For what purpose?  Why?  The tale gets told in a hodgepodge fashion.  Some stuff may be retained.  But much may be lost to posterity.

The only way to fight misinformation and to preserve continuity is with formal written documentation and training.  One of the many services provided by Lehmann Pools & Spas is facility operator training.  As instructors, our goal is to help you properly manage your facility, not just keep the Chlorine and pH adjusted.  We can teach you how to develop a Risk Management System for your public aquatic facility.

We are big proponents of the National Swimming Pool Foundation’s (NSPF®) Certified Pool Operator (CPO®) program.  We believe the CPO® program is more thorough and comprehensive educational than many other training curricula.  Taught correctly, it is better at providing in-depth instruction.  It is certainly beyond many programs in the marketplace who only seem concerned with meeting the regulatory requirements of pool operators – for instance those concerned with being certified pesticide applicators.

A well-taught program such as the NSPF® CPO® course well-equips the facility operator to effectively manage their facility.  An added benefit of the CPO® program is the knowledge that the National Swimming Pool Foundation provides a comprehensive list of resources to effectively manage aquatic facilities.  As NSPF® instructors, we can assist your facility in leveraging those programs to ensure your people have the quality training they need.

Not only will you be using authoritative sources for your training – real knowledge backed by science – but you’ll learn ways to document your information for future use and continuity.  By understanding the importance of written, reviewed sources you’ll be fighting the 2 prevalent problems with institutional knowledge – correctness and continuity.

Join the Fight!

cpo-class

 

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It’s been headline news lately – internationally, nationally, and locally (Western PA) – about the problems aquatic facilities have had safely managing their facilities. We’ve blogged previously about safety being a layered approach and yet we see time and time again reports of “immediate closure” due to violations. News reports suggest that the operators of facilities getting hit with such emergency closures are surprised when regulators shut them down. It may be logical to presume that the facilities in question must not have adopted an effective system for managing their facility safety.

“It was never a problem before” is the general theme I read and heard a facility manager say recently in news reporting covering the closure of his public pool. When we teach aquatics operators, one of our introduction slides is our “Top 10 Awful Reasons” for the way we as humans do things.

Top 10 Awful Reasons:

  1. “We’ve never done it that way”
  2. “Always done it that way”
  3. “Been doing this for 30 years”
  4. “Throw away the book, here’s how”
  5. “Here’s a shortcut”
  6. “That’s not important”
  7. “It’s easier this way”
  8. “It’s cheaper…”
  9. “I’ll just get my buddy”
  10. “That takes too long”

When you hear of an immediate closure and someone says “It’s never been a problem before” it just means nobody got caught. The problem was (or problems were) there all along. When a facility gets closed suddenly – an “emergency” closure – one can easily figure that there is no effective Risk Management strategy. It would be fair to say facility management never implemented a formal Risk Management Program.

An effective Risk Management strategy will consider 4 factors:

  • Negligence
  • Standard of Care
  • Duty of Care
  • Record Keeping

Considering those 4 factors, a pool operator – the pool management staff – must develop written plans to manage:

  • The Prevention of Injuries to Patrons and Staff
  • The Protection of Facility Assets
  • Minimizing Legal Liability

With a comprehensive Risk Management Plan, the facility “catches itself.” Better yet, the facility can manage and budget to the latest standards. They will certainly incorporate on-going inspections, audits, and routine maintenance – catching issues before they become major (and costly) problems. And, as repairs, changes, and additions are needed, they can be accomplished with regard to all the latest applicable standards. The facility will also have a review process to consider how a change to one part of a system will affect other systems or parts of systems.

One of the many services provided by Lehmann Pools & Spas is facility operator training. As instructors, our goal is to help you properly manage your facility, not just keep the Chlorine and pH adjusted. We can teach you how to develop a Risk Management System for your public aquatic facility.

We are big proponents of the National Swimming Pool Foundation’s (NSPF®) Certified Pool Operator (CPO®) program. We believe the CPO® program is more thorough and comprehensive educational than many other training curricula. Taught correctly, it is better at providing in-depth instruction. It is certainly beyond many programs in the marketplace who only seem concerned with meeting the regulatory requirements of pool operators – for instance those concerned with being certified pesticide applicators.

A well-taught program such as the NSPF® CPO® course well-equips the facility operator to effectively manage their facility. An added benefit of the CPO® program is the knowledge that the National Swimming Pool Foundation provides a comprehensive list of resources to effectively manage aquatic facilities.

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Lehmann Pools & Spas thinks that there is a place in the world for Pool Professionals.  It is particularly true in the world of commercial aquatics – public pools like hotels, schools, water parks, and recreation facilities.  We know that even in heavily regulated States, significant problems exist within the commercial aquatics world.  Violations of safety standards are rampant and the consequences to the public are real.  For background: CDC.

One might suspect less regulated places of the US, like Pennsylvania, may be a bit more susceptible to safety issues. Safety issues almost always get discovered when liability goes from a “risk” phase to “civil” or “criminal” liability phase following an actual occurrence.  Lehmann Pools & Spas believes that involving a Pool Professional in your aquatics facility safety process might just be a wise investment in liability protection and risk management.  With access to the resources of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, Lehmann Pools & Spas might just be another layer in your Safety Management System – the protection your need from risk and liability.

But there’s another reason to involve a Pool Professional.  Like D-I-Y homeowners, many facility operators make expensive mistakes trying to be cheap.  Some get away with it.  But, usually the errors get “found out” when costly events happen.  Equipment gets destroyed – expensive.  Inspectors find a violation – expensive.  Employee gets injured – expensive.  DOH shuts you down – expensive.  We know of a hotel chain where, if the pool is shut down for any reason, every guest gets a refund for their stay.  E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E!

We didn’t search far-and-wide for these pics.  They’re local Western Pennsylvania facilities making very expensive mistakes. What’s more is they have underlying issues that a Pool Professional would have identified and helped them correct – before the event occurred. And, we see dozens of situations like these.

20160720_162521 Camp A Impeller 1

 

 

 

 

 

We can help.  814-266-2236.

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“Stronger regulation will improve safety.” “This law will keep kids safe.” “Hiring more inspectors will improve safety.”

A recent press release from the CDC proves that safety seems to be just a buzzword in the Aquatics industry. http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0519-public-pools.html. In 5 of the most heavily regulated and frequently inspected states, 80% of facilities had at least one violation. 1 in 8 had “Immediate closure” violations. We know the industry can do far better – not through more regulation, but with the cooperation of operators and facility managers.

Safety comes through a system of multiple processes that work to make sure no single pathway exists that allows problems to go uncorrected. Safety starts with high standards – regulatory codes and industry standards.   Those standards must be followed by multiple layers, multiple checks, procedures, inspections and audits so that no single point of failure progresses to the point of violation, or worse – injury or death.

As a facility operator, it is imperative that you use a systems approach to build adequate layers to recognize deviations, catch errors, and mitigate unsafe situations rapidly – as soon as they occur. Your process must be a 360° process involving operations, finance, logistics, and executive and must include every employee level in your facility to ensure proper plan design and buy-in. It is a written plan – editable, of course, but written.

Layers include:

  • Operator and management training
  • Operating rules
  • Checklists
  • Maintenance procedures and checks
  • Qualification of facility repair personnel
  • Facility “re-open” process
  • Reporting process
  • Recordkeeping
  • Facility audits
    • Internal
    • External

Robust planning and process review will ensure your facility never has a situation that escalates to the point of violation. We recommend taking advantage of programs like those offered by the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF®) to design your facility’s management system. As NSPF® Instructors, Lehmann Pools & Spas can help.

Pool Operator Class

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