Health Department Public Pool Code Inspections.
If you have a pool at a property that you maintain I am certain you have realized that when the Health Official conducts the public pool code inspection they only check maybe a dozen and a half items.
What they are actually doing is a ‘spot count’ of the code. They don’t check the entire thing. To be honest, they just don’t have the time. The Health Officials have items that have been flagged to inspect that are either considered extremely important, or to be key indicators.
This does not mean that these other items are not important. They most definitely are. Unfortunately, your Health Official simply does not have the time to inspect everything in that thirty to sixty-five page document.
Every Public Pool in the Entire County.
Your Health Official has a lot on their plate. They belong to a small subsection of your public health department known as environmental health. Besides, these county offices are woefully understaffed, IMO. The norm is to have anywhere from one to ten individuals, more often one to three, responsible for inspecting every single public pool in the county two times a year.
Just think about how many pools – Hotels, Apartment Complexes, Aquatic Centers, Parks & Rec, Condominiums, HOAs, Nursing Homes, Baptismals, Float Tank centers, Waterparks, Therapy pools, etc. That’s a ginormous amount of water!
What Else Inspectors Do.
However, swimming pools are not all these environmental health inspectors inspect. This same one to three individuals is tasked with food service inspections. So, add every restaurant in your county to the number of swimming pools in that county.
Not only that, but these folks also conduct septic inspections, biomedical waste receptacles, Tattoo parlors, Piercing Studios, Marijuana dispensaries (in some states), and more. The truth is the public pool inspector does not want to close your pool.
If a Health Official Closes the Pool, Only a Health Official Can Open the Pool.
This and the pool inspector’s crazy hectic schedule I mentioned above is why they would rather have your pool pass an inspection. Besides, if your pool fails, that means the health official has to carve out time in a jam-packed schedule to come back and inspect your swimming pool.
This makes your health official somewhat easy to work with if you consider this. It doesn’t mean you can manipulate them. They will close your pool if it needs to be closed. However, a good relationship with this individual can only be mutually beneficial.
If you know, there is something wrong with your pool, close it yourself. If you close it, you get to open it. When a health official shows up and the pool has been closed, they will not likely inspect it. If you have something that will take half a day to fix, you will be able to reopen the pool yourself after the repair or adjustment has been made. This is a heck of a lot better than waiting two to three days to reopen, depending upon your health official’s schedule.
Health Inspectors are People Too.
This isn’t hard to do. I’ve always found the easiest way to build a rapport is to show that you care what they think. That’s just common decency. Besides, don’t you want to know the opinion of the person who can shut you down on a holiday weekend?
For example, most health department pool codes have an acceptable range of 1 ppm to 10 ppm for chlorine in an outdoor swimming pool at this time. Why not ask, “I know the acceptable range for chlorine is 1 ppm to 10 ppm, but where would you like me to keep the level?” Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
This can be done with any or all of your water chemistry values. “I know the acceptable range for pH is 7.2 to 7.8, but where would you like me to keep it?” Of course, now that you have asked, you’ll need to shoot for those suggested numbers. Besides, don’t you want to know the inspector’s preferential pH level?
Print & Read the Code
I can promise you that this will be the most boring thing you have ever read in your entire life. It’s a health department code and most likely just page after page of bullet points, but read it anyway. We have already mentioned that your health official only checks about eighteen different items. This does not mean that everything else in the code does not need to meet the code. It absolutely does, and this is on you.
God forbid something bad happens at your facility. I hate to use these examples, but it is the industry we are in. The worst possible thing that could occur at a facility with a swimming pool is that somebody drowns. Knock on wood.
Drones and News Helicopters Over the Pool.
If this should occur, there will be a whole bunch of people coming out to look at your pool. You’ll see health officials, lawyers, family members, and media (you do not get to have a drowning at a public pool without media attention). You will also get a visit from a person that calls themself an Expert Witness.
This expert will testify on whatever it is they are instructed to testify on. This could very well be adherence to your state or county’s public pool code. If there are enough items that do not meet the code that would suggest your pool shouldn’t have been open in the first place, your facility’s level of negligence will increase exponentially.
A DOH Checklist
It will take an individual a solid week to take the code poolside and use it as a checklist, but it may be a worthwhile exercise. This allows you to list everything that does not meet code, prioritize the tasks, and begin to rectify. Revisions to the code do not occur frequently, so if you do this annually eventually, you will get to the point where you are only addressing the code changes as they crop up.
Pool inspection results by State: Swimming Pool Inspection Reports
State and County Public Pool Codes (where applicable).