Although laws for public pools have succeeded in reducing injury and death associated with main drains below the water line, there are no U.S. industry standards for perimeter pool and deck grates above the water line. The responsibility falls into the hands of consultants, contractors, and facility owners to know what to look for and what questions to ask when purchasing pool grating. Here, we will focus specifically on plastic grating and what factors to consider:
Material Composition: To qualify the material composition and quality for plastic grating, the manufacturer should have their product tested and provide results and/or certification performed by industry-recognized, independent labs. The most common test/certification is NSF50 as outlined by the National Science Foundation, which requires materials to be corrosion-resistant and ensure materials do not contribute harmful contaminants to the water.
Engineering and Construction: The International Building Code (IBC) was established to provide standards within the construction industry and has been adopted as a basis by most jurisdictions in the U.S. The aquatics industry should also refer to IBC standards for changes or updates before specifying or purchasing grating to help mitigate risk.
Strength and Testing: Summer puts grating to the strength test. As they become old and brittle, grating will break easily under pressure and quickly become a hazard. Retractable pool covers and light vehicle traffic add to the potential for breakage. All grating should be designed and constructed to meet the IBC standard for strength.
Slip Resistance: Pools are a place where people interplay and may result in slips and falls on wet decks. And because of this, swimming pools are a breeding ground for personal injury lawyers. Aside from keeping decks dry and free from algae and debris, the first line of defense is to purchase pool grating that has anti-slip or slip-resistance qualities.
Gap Openings: Another IBC standard is the International Child Finger/Toe Entrapment Guidelines, which limits gap openings to only eight millimeters — or 0.315 inches. Without strict adherence to these standards, anyone — especially children — can fall victim to getting their extremities caught in the pool grating.
Warranties: A manufacturer’s warranty should cover against product defects and is an opportunity to exhibit their integrity to stand behind their products. Ask the manufacturer to provide the warranty in writing and outline the details of what it will cover, as well as the conditions that void it.
Installation: It is extremely important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. Grating should also be inspected and replaced immediately if grating becomes brittle or exhibits discoloration and cracks.
Perimeter and deck pool grating is more than its ability to divert water. It has one of the highest levels of public interaction. Therefore, grating should meet or exceed the highest standards, with health and safety the ultimate goal.
Robert Lawson is the president of Daldorado, LLC. For more information about what factors to consider when purchasing perimeter pool and deck grating for commercial pools, please visit daldorado.com or contact Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org.