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.

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We can help.  814-266-2236.

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3 Years ago we asked – “Where’s Waldo.”

Where's Waldo

 

 

 

 

 

Now we know – Where Waldo Was.  Installing SRSmith equipment.  Check out our Facebook page!

Full line Commercial Pool Equipment.  Project Sourcing.  Logistics.

Where Waldo WasRightAngle

 

 

 

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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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Data in this latest report from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says that public pool operators in even the most regulated states (New York, Florida, Texas, Arizona, California) are not successfully managing their swimming pools.

  • Most inspections of public aquatic venues (almost 80 percent) identified at least one violation.
  • 1 in 8 inspections resulted in immediate closure because of serious health and safety violations.
  • 1 in 5 kiddie/wading pools were closed—the highest proportion of closures among all inspected venues.
  • The most common violations reported were related to improper pH (15 percent), safety equipment (13 percent), and disinfectant concentration (12 percent).

Lehmann Pools & Spas helps Commercial & Public Pool Operators meet and exceed the toughest pool standards.  Check out our Commercial Products & Services page to see how we can help you manage your pool.

  • Training & Certification for Operators – including NSPF®CPO®
  • Equipment Sourcing
  • Installation & Maintenance
  • Secondary Sanitization Systems
  • Chemicals
  • Inspection and Audit Services

Acorn 2

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2015_12_10__9577

Experienced Builder & Improper Choice lead to —->

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A safety audit can help you manage the risk of operating your commercial or public pool.  We service quite a number of hotel, school, and public pools and find a surprising number of equipment and installation errors.  Even “experienced” and “professional” builders and service people are making incorrect choices in their equipment specs.  And, if they spec the right equipment, we find quite a number of installation errors.

  • Non-compliant sanitizers
  • Improper feeder installations – voiding NSF® certification
  • Non-compliant drain covers – VGB violations
  • Non-ADA compliance
  • Modifications to pump and filtration systems without verification of VGB compliance
  • Non-NSF® equipment
  • Improper bonding
  • Installation errors – non-compliance with manufacturer specs

The list goes on and on.  And, we are by no means “big guys!”  So if this is what we see, then there must be tons of violations.

And, it falls back on facility owners and their liability coverage providers.

Your Risk Management solution for your aquatic facility?  A Safety Audit.

Lehmann Pools & Spas is certified by the NSPF® to conduct Facility Audits.  Protect yourself.  And, more importantly – protect your customers and clients.

814-266-2236   —–    Read more on our Facebook pages or on other pages on this site.

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