Could Your Pool Land You In Hot Water?

As of January 31, 2013, public pools and spas should have been fitted with some means of disabled access. The standards are part of new Americans with Disabilities Act regulations passed in 2010. Title III of the ADA requires that places of public accommodation – that includes hotels, resorts and swim clubs – provide a permanent means of disabled access for all pools and spas.

If your business has not yet complied with the new laws, it could be facing a lawsuit. Plaintiff’s lawyers are hot on this issue. There have already been several lawsuits and class action lawsuits filed against numerous hotels, motels and resorts for failing to comply with the new guidelines. One individual in Indianapolis has filed 21 class action suits against area hotels. He simply called each location and asked if they had a means of disabled access for their pools. If they said no, he filed a lawsuit. These lawsuits can be time-consuming, expensive and hurt your business’s reputation.

Your business should have already installed a fixed pool lift that allows independent operation by the user or another accessible means of entry that complies with the ADA standards, such as a sloped entry. According to the new laws, lifts must be built in to the pool or located in a fixed place.

Portable lifts may be an option but only if installing a fixed lift would cause undue hardship for the business. The ADA states that these changes must be made "to the extent that it is readily achievable to do so."

The following guidelines should provide some assistance:

Large pools – with more than 300 linear feet of pool wall

  • Required to have two accessible means of entry, with at least one being a pool lift or sloped entry

Small pools – with less than 300 linear feet of wall

  • Required to have one accessible means of entry, either a pool lift or a sloped entry

All pools

  • Sharing accessible equipment between pools is not permitted, unless it would result in undue burdens to provide equipment at each one
  • Seats must be at least 16 inches wide and seats with backs are recommended
  • Pool lifts must be placed where the water level is no greater than 48 inches
  • An individual swimmer must be able to operate the lift unassisted from both the deck and water levels
  • The lift must support at least 300 pounds of weight

Additional requirements can be found at http://www.ada.gov1.

If your business has any issues with the changes or if you are at all unsure about your level of compliance, contact an expert to conduct an ADA audit of your facilities immediately. Don’t let a lawsuit ruin your business – update your pools and spas today!

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