by Sean Griffin, April 4, 2011
The New ADA Standard or the "Pool Lift Law"
New laws handed down by the Department of Justice are now in effect. The Standards for Accessible Design 2010 revision have been adopted by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA ensures Americans with disabilities will not be faced with discrimination, and certain public and semi-public swimming pools now need to provide a pool lift for every 300 sq. ft. of pool perimeter.
Americans with disabilities are now the largest minority group in the Unites States with a population over 50 million the updates will greatly affect both new construction and existing structures within the swimming pool industry around the country. The mandate was implemented nationwide March 15, 2011. To allow time for current facilities that fall under this mandate to become compliant a deadline of March 15, 2012 is in place.
New pool construction companies and existing commercial maintenance companies with properties that are subject to this mandate might treat this new law as a burden and procrastinate like many facilities did with the recent Virginia Graham Baker Act (VGB). Due to non compliance and poor budgeting several facilities were unable to open. Local municipalities including Health Departments will mandate the laws set in place by the DOJ.
Failure to meet the new requirements could lead to loss in any federal funding (such as HUDD), loss of local and federal grants, and the possibilities of drastically increased insurance rates and possible insurance cancellation. A facility that operates outside the ADA guidelines is in violation of Federal Civil Rights Laws and could possibly be subject to legal ramifications or large fines. To avoid the negative possibilities associated with disregarding new laws, all public and private entities with public use pools should factor in an ADA compliant lift or other means of compliant access into their upcoming fiscal budget.
Step one is to evaluate wither you are indeed subject to the law change. Title II and Title III of the ADA explains private, semi-private, and public facilities that will need to meet the requirements. Online material is offered by the Department of Justice in both PDF and HTML format at here:
The ADA Guidance handbook addresses the scope and technical provisions of the 2010 Standard.
Swimming pools with less than 300 linear feet permiter measurement will require a minimum of one (1) ADA acceptable pool lift. Pools over 300 linear feet require 2 means of access with one being primary. Slopped entries beachfront entry and Pool Lifts are considered primary. For existing properties adding in an approved lift is more economical as opposed to making major structural changes to meet the definition of a slopped entry that serves as a primary means of access as defined by the ADA. A primary means of access is also required for Spas, Wading pools, lazy rivers, and other pools where user entry is limited to one area.
Lift requirements for spas are slightly different from pools. In addition local authorities can mandate additional requirements. California law currently mandates removable or foldable armrests equipped on every lift installed in the state. As local authorities adopt current code, additional regulations might be associated. Always check with local municipalities and/or an ADA representative to make sure your efforts to be compliant are met.
After determining the most economical and affective route to keeping up with current regulations it is time to determine which manufacturer you will be purchasing your ADA compliant lift from. In some cases multiple lifts will need to be installed for separate bodies of water. Manufacturer’s directions should be followed thoroughly while ensuring ADA compliance. Confirm the Lift meets all requirements. Weight limit, pivoting capabilities, and the means to operate in and out of the water by the user are some of the technical aspects associated with meeting the criteria set forth by the DOJ.
Certain pool lift models require an anchor to be permanently installed into the pool decking which requires bonding to the frame of the pool. Proper bonding is required to satisfy electrical code. Bonding locations may dictate where you will install your ADA lift. Water depth in pools with varying water levels and preference by the owner may also influence placement.
There are several Pool Lift models that are currently available. Some borrow a design based on technology originally refined for hospital beds. Power is sustained from a battery source, an electrical source, or water pressure. More recent pool lift models are portable and can be operated from a remote. The footprint can be large on the bigger portable models, but there are some very sleek, single pole units that mount into a regular deck anchor socket.
Things to consider when shopping for your pool lift should include:
- Aluminum or Steel. Powder coatings, warranty.
- Wiring, remote operation, battery life.
- Portability or ease of movement.
- Before you buy, read and understand all instruction manuals to make sure the unit is adequate and capable of overcoming any of obstructions associated with the pool deck layout. Set back range and water draft range should be considered. Any existing pool gutter should be accounted for.
- Bonding of any permanent anchor to pool frame. If permanently installed, the unit should be bonded to other steel structure or frame for electrical safety. Refer to article 680 of the NEC for more information.
- The new ADA laws also mandate yearly maintenance to ensure all controls and remotes function and is in full working condition, pivoting properly.
- Pool Lifts need occasional lubrication, cleaning and covering when not in use.