In the joyful rush of pool season, properly inspecting for health & safety keeps your residents’ favorite amenities open for fun in the sun
Memorial Day is within sight! That means grills will soon fragrance the summer air with picnic favorites, outdoor decks and patios will again become gathering places for your residents and your community pools will awaken from hibernation to welcome families, guests and friends.
Pools are famed for increasing the value of your property and contributing to resident satisfaction as they are seen as one of the most desirable amenities an apartment complex can offer. Yet they’re also notorious for their demanding upkeep.
An improperly maintained pool or spa and its surrounding area can quickly put a damper on the fun, sometimes in costly and dangerous ways. And pool inspection violations are so common, it’s understandable that most owners and managers who count pools in their list of amenities suffer from nagging worries of ending up in legal hot water — not the pleasant spa kind — that can strike as suddenly as summer thunderstorms. Data analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2013 bears this out: of the 84,000 inspections conducted at 50,000 pools and aquatic venues across five populous states, 80% reported violations. One in eight inspections resulted in immediate closure of the venue because of serious health and safety issues.
“Of 84,000 inspections conducted at 50,000 pools and aquatic venues across five populous states, 80% reported violations according to the CDC.”
The most common violations involved improper pH levels, substandard disinfectant concentration and missing or inadequate safety equipment. Even pools that may have been code compliant failed inspection if the operator didn’t properly document chemical testing and treatment. The wrong balance of chemicals corrodes equipment, causes scaling to accumulate on finishes and grout and can result in cloudy water that makes swimming dangerous. In the worst cases, poorly monitored and treated pool water can lead to poisoning, chemical burns and disease caused by germs such as Cryptosporidium, Norovirus and E. coli among residents and guests.
Inadequate maintenance of your pool or spa and the surrounding area also increases your risk of a premises liability issue. Like with bedbugs, fire safety and any property maintenance legal issue, pool lawsuits filed against property owners and managers boil down to negligence. And negligence is impossible to disprove without rock-solid documentation.
Most Common Swimming Pool Violations* Are Due to Problems with:
1. pH Level (15%)
2. Safety Equipment (13%)
3. Concentration of Disinfectants (12%)
*Among a CDC 2013 sample of almost 50,000 public pools
Since some experts recommend you check levels two to three times daily (talk about high maintenance!) for pH, chlorine, alkalinity, calcium and phosphorous, documentation can be burdensome — even more so if your teams are using a paper workflow to record chemical and equipment maintenance. Pools and spas are your most demanding amenity in terms of inspection frequency. On top of this, paper forms for outdoor inspections can get blown away in the wind or drift into the water, destroying evidence that could later protect you from legal claims.
On the educational front, it’s important to keep your residents and staff informed about pool rules. Signage is helpful in this regard. Be sure signs that carry warnings and mark safety equipment are clearly placed. All pool depths should be marked and a list of emergency numbers should be prominently posted next to a working phone that doesn’t require “9” to dial out.
Critically, your pool’s immediate surroundings must also be closely audited when your teams are documenting overall conditions and maintenance. Check that fences are in good shape, that gates are locking and that water isn’t accumulating by the pool to create a slippery surface. Flotation devices should be within reach in case of emergency.
Ensuring your pool and spa areas are maintained to the highest safety standards can save lives! Pool Safely, the urgent public education campaign launched by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, draws attention to the nearly 5,000 drowning-related injuries each year and highlights harrowing statistics from a 2014 CDC Morbidity and Mortality Report. The report notes that drowning is the leading cause of unintended injury death among children 1 to 4 years old. Swimming pools make up 76% of those injuries. Older children are susceptible as well, with 84% of drowning deaths of under-15-year-olds due to pools. On the whole, public pools, including condo and apartment complex pools account for 40% of deaths.
Yet, the more properties your company owns or manages, the harder it becomes to monitor all the inspections and ensure health and safety at your pools and spas in a timely manner — putting your residents and assets at risk. Conventional paper-and-pen and excel-based inspections don’t provide management with visibility into onsite operations, making it far more likely important inspections aren’t completed consistently by property staff; and paper inspections often return illegible handwriting and inconsistent information, making identifying pool and spa issues in a timely manner nearly impossible.
Because most inspection systems lack real-time property-level monitoring, there’s a greater likelihood your onsite teams will skip or fail to fill out data on the very inspections most imperative to ensuring your pool and spa facilities are compliant with health and safety codes. Moving from a paper-based process to a mobile inspection solution has dramatically improved inspection compliance for our customers, like Yellowstone Club who saw a 46% increase in compliance. Before they began employing a mobile inspection system, they weren’t able to see which of their properties hadn’t completed mandatory inspections. The visibility created by their new workflow has improved accountability organization-wide.
“In the worst cases, poorly monitored and treated pool water can lead to poisoning, chemical burns and disease caused by germs such as Cryptosporidium, Norovirus and E. coli among residents and guests.”
A mobile inspection solution can also automatically time-stamp inspection photos and organize them in reports that are forever backed up to the cloud, searchable and immediately accessible so you have documentation of your pool and spa safety measures right when you need it. You’ll want to pair your mobile inspections with an online management console offering insights into your data that give you the visibility and tools to intervene based on set thresholds for compliance — impossible to replicate with a paper-based workflow.
Property managers and owners who’ve switched to a mobile inspection solution now have the means to prevent operational missteps that damage assets and harm residents.
So in the joyful rush of pool season, don’t lose sight of what makes your pools relaxing and enjoyable in the first place: clean and safe water, present and functional safety equipment and community rules that govern resident and guest use.
“Since some experts recommend you check levels two to three times daily (talk about high maintenance!) for pH, chlorine, alkalinity, calcium and phosphorous, documentation can be burdensome — even more so if your teams are using a paper workflow to record chemical and equipment maintenance.”
Keep your residents and your assets safe.
To learn more about how mobile inspections and data insights with HappyCo help you maintain pool and spa quality and safety standards across your portfolio, request a demo