Recently, I visited some friends who had bought a new home in the years since I’d last seen them. Their current house came with a pool, and as they told me how much they were enjoying it, I looked over the vessel and was surprised at what I saw.

My friends’ pool had a diving board that anyone in the industry would have to be either crazy or grossly negligent to leave in place. The well was so small and the slope so steep that just looking at it gave me a faintly nauseous feeling.

The board was obviously installed a long time ago. Not only did it appear old, but you could tell the pool had been remodeled at least twice since it was originally built. The craftsmanship on both remodels was quite good — whoever had done the work knew how to plaster, add tile, design a waterfeature and build a decent spa. But they didn’t know enough to insist that the board be removed.

When I pointed out the dangers of diving at that angle, my friend said he’d noticed it seemed a bit tight, and had told his kids not to use the board. But even while he explained this, his teenage son stood in the background rolling his eyes.

I asked if they had a service tech who maintained the pool. Yes, they did. Had he ever mentioned the board might be less than optimal? No, he’d never said a word.

In our current issue, we cover the latest chapter of a tragic story involving Shoreline Pools in Connecticut. The company allegedly built an unsafe vessel that resulted in the death of a 6-year-old boy, and recently the owner was arrested for second-degree manslaughter.

According to prosecutors, the logic behind the charge is that this man knew the pool needed certain safety systems, and he chose not to install them.

Regardless of whether Shoreline’s owner is the individual responsible, the fact remains that someone decided the pool was safe, and that decision resulted in a death, and many more ruined lives.

The diving board on my friends’ pool has been seen numerous times by their service tech, along with those who did the remodels. It’s impossible that all those people had no idea the diving well was too small. Yet, astonishingly, the board is still there.

As a business owner or manager, it’s critically important to protect your clients and yourself. The charges involving Shoreline Pools are a first for this industry, but sadly, I’d bet they’re not the last, not by a long shot.

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