If you think you’ve heard this one before, you probably have, but there’s good reason VGB is in the news again in 2016. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (aka the VGB) was enacted in December 2007, and all community pools had to become compliant by December 2008, or Spring opening 2009 for seasonal pools. One of the law’s key requirements is that all commercial (public, community, or institutional) pools must update the grate coverings on their submerged suction outlets with new compliant fittings that will prevent against the 5 main types of entrapment (body, limb, mechanical, evisceration, and hair entanglement).

Why are we revisiting this law in 2016? Part of the law required manufacturers to put expiration dates on their grates. No longer is it acceptable to wait until the grate breaks to replace it. Different manufacturers labelled their products for different expiration periods. The most common expiration periods are 5 years and 7 years.  That means a high percentage of grates expired in 2014, and will expire in 2016.

How do you know if you need to replace your grates in 2016?  Hopefully your association has kept good records and knows the grate manufacturer and when they were last replaced.  For instance, if your pool was resurfaced since 2009, the grates may have been replaced at that time, which starts the clock over. If you’re not sure, it may require a little research on your part, and you may need the assistance of your pool company and property manager to help determine the status of your pool’s suction grates. We strongly encourage you to find out before the season to protect your liability.

You cannot count on health inspectors to cite you for expired grates, because expired grates look the same as compliant grates. They won’t know. If a suction entrapment incident occurs on expired grates, you can count on a plaintiff’s attorney to discover this information and use it against the association.

If you have questions about the VGB or your pool’s compliance status, ask us for help.  For a free expert opinion, contact Sears Pool Management at or 770-993-7492.

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