News Alert & CALL TO ACTION re CPSC to vote on reversal of P&SSAct decisions


NEWS ALERT-CALL TO ACTION
From the National Swimming Pool Foundation
Contact Laurie Batter
760-438-9304
batterup@batterupproductions.com
 
For immediate attention to media and industry members

September 22, 2011

ALERT:  Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to vote on reversal of decisions made regarding Pool & Spa Safety Act.
Will this cause serious unintended consequences?

On September 7, 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published its intent to change the CPSC position that an unblockable drain cover does not require an additional level of protection (http://www.nspf.org/Documents/Proposed_Change_VGB.pdf). The CPSC will vote and possibly revoke this interpretation on Wednesday, September 28, 2011.
 
The National Swimming Pool Foundation has issued its position that the CPSC not revoke the current interpretation based on the following:
 
1. Since the Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SSA) was enacted, there have been no U.S. entrapment fatalities and no serious injuries to justify implementing a costly new requirement.
2. The unintended consequences of revoking this rule may increase the risk of drowning, thus conflicting with the intent of the law.
3. This change will create confusion in the market with no net benefit.
 
It is important that experts weigh in to help guide the CPSC on how best to minimize both entrapment AND drowning. The complete National Swimming Pool Foundation position is below or can be found at http://www.nspf.org/Documents/NSPF_Recommendation_to_CPSC.pdf. If you support the NSPF position, please comment to the CPSC today. Alternatively, if you have other guidance, please forward it to the CPSC.
 
All stakeholders who care about aquatics and public health agree that we must continue to work hard to have zero entrapments AND to work harder to reduce the thousands who drown each year.
 
Please send your comments to the CPSC today. Their contact information is below.
It is recommended that your Congressional Representative and/or Senators be copied on any correspondence sent to the CPSC.
 
Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
 
Troy Whitfield, Lead Compliance Officer
 
twhitfield@cpsc.gov
Cheryl Falvey, General Counsel
 
cfalvey@cpsc.gov
Kenneth Hinson, Executive Director
 
Khinson@cpsc.gov
Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman
 
dslee@cpsc.gov
Robert Alder, Commissioner
 
radler@cpsc.gov
Thomas Moore, Commissioner
 
ltaylor@cpsc.gov
Nancy Nord, Commissioner
 
Amoore@cpsc.gov
Hon. Anne Northup, Commissioner
 
mfellin@cpsc.gov
 
 
Below is the letter sent by NSPF.
September 20, 2011

Mr. Troy Whitfield
Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
 
Dear Mr. Whitfield:
 
RE:      Revocation of the Interpretative Rule “Unblockable Drain”
 
The National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF®), founded in 1965, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving public health worldwide by attracting more people to safe aquatic environments and encouraging healthier living through aquatic education and research. NSPF is the leading research funder and educator for pool and spa professionals who service and operate public and private pools and spas and for public health officials who are responsible for pool safety. This research is disseminated via the World Aquatic Health Conference, which NSPF hosts, and the International Journal of Aquatic Research & Education, which NSPF publishes in partnership with Human Kinetics.
 
The Foundation works toward its educational mission with leading training programs like Certified Pool/Spa Operator® certification training, Certified Pool/Spa Inspector online training, and the Pool & Spa Safety Act online training developed under contract with the CPSC.   The Foundation has certified over 300,000 pool operators, managers, and health officials since 1965.  In 2010 alone, over 25,000 people were trained.   
 
Please do not revoke CPSC’s interpretative rule on “unblockable drain” as suggested in 16CFR Part 1450.  This position is justified based on three arguments:
 
1.   Since the Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SSA) was enacted, there have been no U.S. entrapment  fatalities and no serious injuries to justify implementing a costly new requirement.
 
2.      The unintended consequences of revoking this rule may increase the risk of drowning, thus conflicting with the intent of the law.
 
3.      This change will create confusion in the market with no net benefit.
 
These justifications are further clarified below.
 
1.   Lack of Scientific Support to Implement
There have been no U.S. entrapment fatalities or serious injuries since the Pool & Spa Safety Act was enacted to justify implementing a costly new requirement.  As a result, there is no scientific evidence to justify adding another level of protection when compliant unblockable drain covers have been used.
 
2.   Unintended Consequences May Increase Drowning Risk
The unintended consequences of this change may increase the risk of drowning, thus conflicting with the intent of the P&SSA. The nation has suffered the most severe economic recession since the Great Depression. Though justified, the Pool & Spa Safety Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act have placed an additional burden on aquatic facilities during a financially vulnerable time. In addition, the CPSC issued a recall prior to the 2011 swim season that resulted in new resource challenges for facilities to comply with the P&SSA.
 
Changing the P&SSA interpretation to require an additional level of protection for pools protected with compliant “unblockable drains” - when there are no failures that resulted in serious morbidity or mortality - places another financial burden on aquatic facilities.  In contrast, this new requirement will provide a financial benefit to “safety equipment manufacturers” and “pool service/construction” companies. However, that benefit is at the expense of the aquatic facilities, making them more vulnerable to closure and thus shrinking the markets for manufacturers over time.
 
The National Drowning Prevention Alliance reported that for the period May 1, 2011, through August 26, 2011, a total of 1,592 drownings were noted by local media outlets. Public swimming pools play a key role in helping the general population learn to swim and for lifeguards to become trained and certified. Increasing arbitrary costs during difficult financial times has resulted in pool closures. Tragically, closures are more likely in economically-disadvantaged regions where drowning is a greater risk. Pool closures reduce the opportunity for many people to learn to swim, potentially increasing the risk of drowning.  Thus arbitrary rule changes that impart cost should be avoided.
 
3.   Confusion with No Net Benefit
The CPSC has funded several millions of dollars with contractors to create and disseminate educational materials to consumers, industry, and health officials. Changing the interpretation after all training contracts have ended will create confusion.  Additional confusion may occur since there have been no serious injuries or deaths, suggesting that the proposed rule change would be ill-justified.
 
This rule change and resulting pool closures provides another drawback that is in direct conflict with the commitments of the President of the United States and both Houses of Congress.  Our representatives are in debate on how to stimulate the economy to create jobs. It appears to be a direct conflict of the wishes of our elected officials to implement a rule change with no net benefit that may increase drowning risk AND may increase unemployment.
NSPF respectfully asks that the CPSC reject the revocation of this interpretive rule until scientific evidence justifies the change and can demonstrate the change will not increase drowning risk.
 
Respectfully,
 
Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
National Swimming Pool Foundation
4775 Granby Circle
Colorado Springs, Co 80919-3131
719-540-9119 (Phone)
719-540-2787 (FAX)
 
cc:        U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Cheryl Falvey, General Counsel
                        Ken Hinson, Executive Director
Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman
Robert Alder, Commissioner
Thomas Moore, Commissioner
Nancy Nord, Commissioner
Anne Northup, Commissioner
 
The Honorable Doug Lamborn, Colorado 5th Congressional District
 

 

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