Recently Pool & Spa News conducted a survey to learn more about pools that don’t comply with current safety standards. We also were interested in finding out how homeowners react when told they need to make their pools safer, and what industry members are doing if a client refuses to fix his or her pool.
While the data wasn’t shocking, there were a couple of things that did surprise me.
First was the sheer volume of responses. Our safety survey (page 51) garnered, by far, the highest number of takers I’ve seen in any study we’ve conducted during my tenure with Pool & Spa News. The enthusiasm was gratifying because this topic is key to the day-to-day lives of industry professionals, as well as a crucial part of how pools and spas are viewed by consumers and the media.
The second surprising piece of information had to do with a few of the statistics themselves. For example, one question asked how many clients bring their pools up to code when told that there’s a potential hazard. Approximately 65 percent of pool professionals said that “all” or “most” comply, which is great, but also scary because that leaves 35 percent who said that “few” or “none” of their customers add the needed safety features. It adds up to many, many thousands of pools that are less than optimal for safety.
But even that’s understandable — after all, when new codes are written, many pools are grandfathered in and it’s ultimately the homeowners’ choice whether they want to meet current standards. However, it’s the pool professional’s choice to work on the pool at all after the client declines a safety update. Thankfully, 53 percent of respondents refuse the job entirely and another 43 percent have the client sign a release of liability. (By the way, those releases are far from ideal because they often don’t hold up in court, but having one is still better than nothing.)
My surprise had to do with the 7 percent of respondents who take a sort of “oh, well” approach and continue their contracted work on the pool. Who are these people? Have they never read the news? Don’t they know that blithely accepting their customer’s refusal to fix a pool is legally dangerous and morally wrong?
Fortunately, the large majority of respondents don’t take that approach. Let’s hope that as our industry continues to professionalize, they influence the rest.