Six months ago, I was hired as managing editor of Pool & Spa News. Since then I’ve learned a lot about the industry.

Recently, I was discussing some initial impressions with Erika Taylor, who usually writes this column. She suggested I share them with you.

The first article I ever read i n this magazine appeared in the March 12, 2007, issue. It was called “Slow Burn,” a special report on skin cancer and outdoor workers. And it was stunning.

As we reported, no disease is more widespread among men over age 50 — not prostate, lung or colon cancer. Skin cancer has afflicted builders, plasterers, service technicians. Everyone under the sun.

But the statistics, while sobering, only tell part of the story. Nearly one-quarter of industry professionals we surveyed say members of their staffs have been diagnosed with skin cancer. Yet only 3 percent offer comprehensive training or education programs for employees.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons.

First, because it’s almost summertime. Swim season is here. And that means long days in the sun.

A few months ago, we reported on the National Plasterers Council’s development of new educational materials, and its partnering with various industry organizations to spread skin cancer awareness.

“We want to provide an easy-to-use training program to every company and trade association in the United States,” NPC Executive Director Mitch Brooks told us. “If half of them use it, we hope we can stop some people from getting skin cancer.”

It’s a great example of leadership. And it should be commended.

But let’s take it a step further. Isn’t this one of those issues the industry should address collectively, with the combined resources of all pool and spa professionals?

That brings us to another nugget from the March 12 issue. The headline on that news story read: “Senate Version of Pool Safety Bill Dies in House.” It’s the same bill that less than a year later would become t he Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

This federal law never would have passed without various forces coming together for the common good. Strength in numbers was never more evident or more necessary. Until now.

Perhaps there’s another opportunity on the horizon, another chance to save lives through education and understanding.

One more thing: Earlier this month, “Slow Burn” was honored with a Maggie Award from the Western Publications Association for best feature article in a trade publication.

It’s a tribute to Erika and the outstanding staff at Pool & Spa News.

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