Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CPSC Repeals Definition of Unblockable Drain

On Wednesday, Sept. 30, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to revoke its previous interpretative definition of an unblockable drain under the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGB). This action means that a blockable drain cannot be made unblockable by use of a cover alone.

The CPSC approved the following interpretation of an "unblockable drain" on April 27, 2010:
A suction outlet defined as all components, including the sump and/or body, cover/grate, and hardware such that its perforated (open) area cannot be shadowed by the area of the 18" x 23" Body Blocking Element of ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 and that the rated flow through the remaining open area (beyond the shadowed portion) cannot create a suction force in excess of the removal force values in Table 1 of that Standard. All suction outlet covers, manufactured or field-fabricated, shall be certified as meeting the applicable requirements of the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 standard.

Under this interpretation, when a drain cover meeting certain specifications was attached to a drain, the covered drain constituted an "unblockable drain." As an unblockable drain, this drain did not require a secondary anti-entrapment system.

As a result of the vote, a drain cover can no longer be used to convert a blockable drain into an unblockable drain. Drains that are blockable require a secondary anti-entrapment system.

Secondary systems permitted under the VGB include:
• Safety vacuum release system
• Suction-limiting vent system
• Gravity drainage system
• Automatic pump shut-off system
• Drain disablement; and/or
• Any other system determined by the Commission to be equally effective as, or better than, the enumerated systems at preventing or eliminating the risk of injury or death associated with pool drainage systems.

Compliance with this change is required by May 28, 2012.

Prior to the vote, IAAPA submitted a letter to the CPSC, outlining the waterpark industry's issues with repealing the interpretative definition. However, in discussions with the CPSC, we learned the vote was pre-determined, and was held to allow Commissioner Bob Adler to change his previous vote in favor of the definition.

Comment Period The CPSC will accept comments on the compliance deadline for 60 days. The comment period will close Dec. 12, 2011.

When an agency opens a comment period, it must address all comments submitted, so waterpark operators are encouraged to submit comments outlining all concerns with the revocation of the CPSC’s interpretation.

More information IAAPA staff and industry experts will lead a discussion of this most recent VGB action at the "Hot Topics in Government Relations" session at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2011 in Orlando. The session will take place Thursday, Nov. 17, at 5 p.m. in the Orange County Convention Center.

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