Swimming Pool Blog

Interview with the Consumer Product Safety Commission

by Myles McMorrow, July 21, 2009

Myles McMorrow from Poolcenter.com recently had a 10 question interview with the Consumer Product Safety Commission on what they are doing for the pool industry:  
What is your job title so I can let people know who you are?
Kathleen Reilly
US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
Public Affairs Spokesperson
#1 Please describe the overall function of the CPSC and what it does for consumers.
We are the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an independent federal regulatory agency that was created in 1972 by Congress in the Consumer Product Safety Act. In that law, Congress directed the Commission to "protect the public against unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products."
We have jurisdiction over about 15,000 types of consumer products, from automatic-drip coffee makers to toys to lawn mowers. Some types of products, however, are covered by other federal agencies. For example, cars, trucks and motorcycles are covered by the Department of Transportation; foods, drugs and cosmetics are covered by the Food and Drug Administration; and alcohol, tobacco and firearms are within the jurisdiction of the Department of the Treasury.
What We Do
CPSC works to reduce the risk of injuries and deaths from consumer products by:
•     Developing voluntary standards with industry
•     Issuing and enforcing mandatory standards; banning consumer products if no feasible standard would adequately protect the public
•     Obtaining the recall of products or arranging for their repair
•     Conducting research on potential product hazards
•     Informing and educating consumers through the media, state and local governments, private organizations, and by responding to consumer inquiries.
#2 What type of things are you all doing in the pool industry as far a laws, recalls, and product testing.
I work predominantly on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SSA). We are in the process of launching a national information and education campaign with the goal of reducing entrapment incidents and drowning, especially for children. 
#3 In a rough ball park how many products have been recalled in the pool industry?
I could not say.  I recommend that you see our recall research page http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prerel.html, where you can look into recalled products by type.  I am sure there have been many different types of pool-related products recalled.
The P&SSAct does not involve recalls but it does require all public pools and spas to install new anti-entrapment drain covers and in the case of single main drains of a blockable size, or multiple drains that are less than 3 feet apart, a secondary device is needed to prevent a suction incident.  See this for more information: http://www.poolsafety.gov/pssa1404guide.pdf.
#4 What was the most dangerous?
 I cannot say which pool-related item is more dangerous than another.  At the CPSC, we help to prevent injuries and deaths.
#5 Being in the Swimming pool industry, I hear of a lot of people getting hurt around pools each year. How many pool related injuries are reported to you yearly? How many deaths?
Here is a press release with the latest data reports for submersions and entrapments attached to it: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/360.pdf
#6 What would you recommend people themselves can do to help prevent these injuries and loss of life?
One, I would ask everyone to look at this simple booklet on drowning and entrapment prevention: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/360.pdf; and two, I would urge everyone to sign up for the CPSC’s recall alerts: https://www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx.
#7 What products do you recommend every swimming pool should have on hand for preparing for an accident or preventing one?
I am not a pool equipment expert but safety equipment such as new approved drain covers and secondary devices where needed are a must.  Offhand I would add: lifesaving equipment, swimming with buddies, a telephone for emergencies, simple CPR instructions.  For more I would see the Red Cross or the National Drowning Prevention Foundation’s Web site.
#8 You (CPSC) have launched a new website (Poolsafety.gov) devoted to pool safety for the consumer and industry professionals. What are you goals for this new website and what does it have to offer?
Information of drowning and entrapment prevention for families, the pool and spa community, state and local officials and the media.  We have safety tips, links to other organizations working on water safety, the Act itself and our staff interpretation, guidelines for complying with the Act, and more.
We will be updating this site with new videos and other information to make it a fully comprehensive pool and spa safety site. 
#9 There are many local pool safety laws when it comes to swimming pool codes and they differ town to town and state to state. The CPSC is now in charge of regulating the VGB law when it comes to commercial pools nationwide. Will there be more national pool laws and standards coming for pools?
This is a question for Congress.
What about the residential pool market?  We encourage States to adopt the P&SSAct into their pool and spa regulations and to include residential pools, especially new covers on drains and four-sided fencing around residential pools.  We will be allocating grant money for education and enforcement to States that adopt the Act’s requirements and the perimeter fencing requirement.
#10 Where would you recommend someone goes to find the pool safety laws in their area? 
States have different entities in charge of pool and spa regulations but the most likely would be the Departments of Health, Environment or Zoning.