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Important changes made to VGBA

By the close of 2021, changes to the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA) will be fully implemented, which require new manufacturer testing to strengthen the law that resulted from a suction entrapment death.

In 2002, seven-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker drowned after she became trapped under water by a hot tub drain. Following Graeme's death, her mother, Nancy Baker, started work to advocate pool and spa safety. She began lobbying Congress to pass legislation to require anti-entrapment drain covers as well as other pool and spa safety devices. The Pool and Spa Safety Act was introduced to Congress on January 12, 2007 and signed into law on December 19, 2007 by President George W. Bush.

The law requires certified suctions, drains, fittings and other components to be used at public swimming pools and spas. Since the act went into effect in 2008, there have been no reported fatalities involving a child being entrapped on a suction outlet cover in a public pool or spa, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Now, VGBA standard for drain covers has been revised, with updates that will be implemented as a rolling change, as new drain covers arrive. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a final rule incorporating revisions to the standard, originally scheduled to become effective on November 24, 2020, which was delayed until May 24, 2021, due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These revisions increase responsibility for the manufacturers of safe drain covers, by increasing the number of tests that must be performed. Updates include changes to the testing method, new testing measures and label specifications.

Specific changes to the testing methods and measures include changes to hair test approach time and changes to hair testing at specific ports in suction outlet fitting assemblies. These test changes are all designed to maintain or increase safety.

Inthepast,therehasbeennorequirement to test every suction outlet fitting assembly.

The revised standard also includes a new definition of an unblockable drain, which was not previously included in the mandatory drain cover standard.

Additionally, manufacturers must comply with new drain cover labeling requirements that identify the product, the manufacturer, and the test lab that performed the analysis, as well as state the standard to which the product was tested, and when and where it was tested.

These changes are discussed in a Pool and Hot Tub on-demand webinar from June 30, 2021. Visit: https://www. phta.org/education-and-events/virtuallearning/ webinar-series/.

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