The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today issued a mandatory safety standard for the manufacture and construction of swimming pool slides.
In response to a petition filed in accordance with the provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Act by the National Swimming Pool Institute (NSPI) and Aquaslide 'N' Dive Corporation shortly after the activation of the Commission, the matter was studied, the petition was granted, and development of a mandatory standard was initiated by the Commission in October 1974. Disabling injuries, including paraplegia, have occurred when sliders, usually adults using the slide for the first time, went head first at a steep angle into shallow water and struck their heads on the bottom of the pool. This is the major hazard addressed in the standard.
Other hazards identified by the Commission and addressed in the standard include leg fractures resulting from feet first entry, impact with other people in the pool and falls off the slide ladders.
The standard, developed for the Commission by NSPI, will affect all slides manufactured, sold, distributed, or imported into the United States starting July 19, 1976. This is the first standard issued by the Commission under the Consumer Product Safety Act since the agency's inception in May 1973. The standard was developed using procedures outlined in the CPSA which mandate active participation of consumers in the development process.
The standard, published in today's Federal Register, is intended to reduce or eliminate the unreasonable risk of injury associated with swimming pool slides by establishing requirements for materials, strength and performance of the slides and their components; providing the user-installer with illustrated instruction and warning signs to be attached to the slides showing proper techniques for use; and recommending minimum water depths depending on the height of the slides and the age of of the user.
The Commission believes that the conflicting risks of (1) impact with the bottom of the pool in shallow water, and (2) drowning in deep water, can be best resolved by the standard's criteria, which specify shorter slides for children in shallow water and allow taller slides for adults and teenagers in deeper water.
The standard also specifies that the slides impart a low angle of entry into the water. Other requirements relate to design materials and construction of the slides, rails, steps, platforms and ladders.
All slides must be delivered to the user-installer with a set of detailed installation instructions, a complete parts list, and a simple assembly diagram showing the slides in their assembled configuration and the positions and dimensions of all major parts.
The standard highlights the importance of water depths in relation to the heights of the slides and size of the slider by including recommendations for the place of installation of the slides in conjunction with the pool. The Commission advises that slides should not be installed over water less than three feet deep; and people 13 years of age and over should not use slides over water four feet deep or less.
The mandatory labeling provisions of the standard warn children and adults about hazards associated with slides and graphically show the potential for injury if the warnings are ignored.
Consumers seeking additional information about hazards associated with swarming pool slides and other consumer products should call the Commission's toll-free hotline at 800/638-2772.
Copies of the standard are available from the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. 20207.