Health Inspector: Friend or Foe? | Regulation Spotlight
HEALTH INSPECTOR Friend or Foe? BY DANIEL KESSEL
n the surface, it may look like the health inspector's mission is to make our lives difficult. With an eye for what is wrong at a facility, these folks go over swimming pool grounds and facilities with a fine–toothed comb. But in the end, the health inspector's job is just as important as the lifeguard's. The beginning of the season may be the most trying for the pool operator, as the stress of the winter is revealed. So this is a great time to collaborate with your local health inspector and pool operator. With a solid assessment, you can budget for required improvements and keep your pool running efficiently. To help uncover the mysterious role of the health inspector in pool and spa operations, Daniel Kessel spoke with Lucy Goszkowski, an environmental sanitarian for Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Here she shares lessons from her 28–year experience with the Bureau of Environmental Health. What do you feel is the mission of the Department of Health in regards to the operation of commercial pools? The Department’s overall mission is to preserve, promote and protect the public health of residents. For pools and spas, this means ensuring good safety and health practices at all the facilities we regulate. Operating a pool in compliance with all regulations helps prevent injuries and control the spread of waterborne diseases. What are the most common violations you see when inspecting a commercial pool during a pre–opening inspection? What about an in–season inspection? What are the primary differences? During the pre–opening inspection at a seasonal pool, we verify that all of the physical aspects of the facility are in place and functioning before the pool is opened. A violation at a pre–opening usually means something was not quite ready for inspection, such as missing or broken equipment. Commonly cited items include rescue tubes, telephones, first–aid kits, flow meters and pump–strainer baskets. We may also cite hot water that has not been turned on, a disorderly or dirty pump room or winter damage, like cracked tiles. In addition, dye tests may fail because of one or more blocked returns, either from work that’s been done in the off–season, such as plastering, or just from accumulated dirt. In contrast, periodic operating inspections focus on water quality and staffing. Our job is to ensure that the water chemistry meets regulation requirements. We also verify that every pool has a properly trained and licensed lifeguard and pool operator. By far, the most frequent violation we see is chlorine that is out of range, usually too low. The next most common
HEALTH INSPECTOR Lucy Goszkowski (pictured right) is an environmental sanitarian for Anne Arundel County, Maryland. After 28 years with the Bureau of Environmental Health, she knows her stuff.