The Issue: Virginia Graeme Baker Act

The following information will provide APSP members and industry professionals with up-to-date news and resources to understand and comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

Mandatory Requirements for Drain Covers and Public Pools and Spas (Section 1404): Effective Dec. 19, 2008, the following are federal mandates under the Virginia Graeme Baker Act (section 1404) for drain covers and public pools, spas, and hot tubs. Drain Covers, Public and Residential Pools and Spas. By Dec. 19, 2008, all drain covers manufactured or sold in the United States must conform to the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 Suction Fittings for Use in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs, published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

All public pools and spas (as defined by the Act), both new and existing, must be equipped with drain cover systems conforming to the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 standard.

All public pools and spas (pump) with a single main drain, other than an unblockable drain, must be equipped with an ASME A112.19.8-2007 compliant cover system and one or more of the following additional devices or systems: a safety vacuum release system (SVRS); suction limiting vent system; gravity drainage system; automatic pump shutoff system; or drain disablement.

APSP VGB References and Information

APSP has developed the following information and resource documents to help APSP members and industry professionals understand the requirements of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act and what they need to do to be in compliance. The APSP supported and helped to develop the Act and has worked closely with the CPSC and other organizations toward its implementation.

ANSI/APSP-7 Suction Entrapment Avoidance Standard

On Sept. 21, 2008, in Minneapolis, MN, code official members of the International Code Council (ICC) overwhelmingly approved the adoption of the ANSI/APSP-7 suction entrapment avoidance standard for the 2009 editions of the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC). The ANSI/APSP-7 standard will be incorporated into the body (mandatory) of the 2009 IBC and in Appendix G of the 2009 IRC. Both are scheduled for publication in early 2009. While other existing ANSI/APSP standards are referenced in Appendix G of the IRC, this will be the first time an Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) standard will be adopted into the body of the IBC.

The ANSI/APSP-7 standard brings the I-Codes in line with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. This is one of the most significant pool and spa safety advances ever because most U.S. cities, counties, and states choose the International Codes developed by the ICC. The IBC code (public pools and spas) has been adopted by all 50 states and 46 states have adopted the IRC (residential pools and spas). APSP will be going out to code officials around the country to urge that their state adopt the ANSI/APSP-7 standard now even if they are not yet ready for adoption of the 2009 ICC code revisions.

The ANSI/APSP-7 standard is the first comprehensive approach to engineering swimming pools and spas to avoid suction entrapment hazards because it is the only standard that protects against the three root causes of entrapment (suction, water velocity, and mechanical binding) and protects against all five types of entrapment (1) Hair; (2) Limb; (3) Body; (4) Mechanical Entrapment; and (5) Evisceration.

The standard covers new and existing facilities. 

Key Features

  • Suction outlet covers/grates must be tested and listed as conforming to ASME/ANSI A112.19.8.
  • Submerged suction outlets (drains) are optional on new and existing pools. Surface skimming or overflow systems can be designed for effective sanitation and circulation without submerged suction outlets.
  • Warns that the pool or spa be immediately closed to bathers if any cover/grate is found to be damaged or missing.
  • New construction must have multiple drains, unblockable drains, or no drains. For existing pools, the standard specifically allows for the disablement of a single drain. Single blockable drains are not permitted in new construction.
  • Added protection must be provided for a single drain on an existing pool. Options include disabling the drain, converting the drain to a return inlet, adding a properly spaced second drain, any safety vacuum release system (SVRS) that complies with ASME/ANSI A112.19.17 or ASTM F2387, suction limiting vent system, gravity drainage system, or automatic shut off switch.
  • Provides a detailed checklist to assist the pool professional in identifying entrapment hazards in existing pools and spas and details remedial options.

Additional Information