Swimming Pool Fencing Regulations in Australia
Swimming pools are best enjoyed with family and friends, especially during the summer season. Despite of the fun and satisfaction swimming activities have been giving, there are still numbers of unwanted accidents ranging from mild to worst — and most of the time, victims of such cases were children.
The most common cause of death among Australian children below five years old is drowning. Latest reports stated that there was a 33% increase of drowning deaths in children aged 0 to 4. An alarming number of 26 deaths due to accidental drowning were from this age group. Furthermore, over half of these cases have happened in the swimming pools.
And to stop the growing number of these tragic incidents, the Australian government has implemented specific laws and regulations regarding the safety around swimming pools and spas. As for the property owners, it may seem to require a lot of effort to adhere with these policies, but it may help improve the safety of the children whenever they go swimming.
Assessing the Safety of Your Swimming Pool Property
Whether you’re considering to have a pool installed in your property, or you already have one, it is important to fully comply with the Pool Fencing Regulations. Giving importance to the safety of your pool properties will ensure the protection of the citizens, especially the children, around these facilities.
Therefore, you should start first by assessing the safety of your pool property. Here are some questions you need to answer in order to know whether your spa pool or swimming pool is safe enough:
- Does my pool or spa has safety barriers such as fences?;
- Does my pool or spa contains effective water recirculation and filtration system that complies with AS1926.3?;
- Am I maintaining my pool in a working order all the time?;
- As the pool or spa owner, do I have resuscitation skills to save lives in case drowning happens?
Answering a “NO” to any of these questions will definitely give you a big exclamation mark and therefore, you should be alarmed. Your pool or spa is considered not safe, and will most likely put someone in danger. Hence, you are strictly required to comply to the pool fencing requirements.
Understanding the Purpose of Pool Fencing Standards
In Western Australia, domestic swimming pools are the most common place in which 94% of drowning incidents in children occurs. Accidental drownings occur when there is no barrier built between the residence and the pool area. There are some that have barriers, but are defective.
Further, the Royal Life Saving Society Australia has identified factors that are associated to the drowning incidents:
Factors relating to parents/carers
Some parents/carers might think that their child has enough self-control, thus lacking enough supervision is very risky than what you expected. Also, kids around the pool might assume that they are still playing, though what they do not know is that the other child is already in danger. As a contrary to the false belief, always remember that barriers and pool safety devices are not adequate enough to provide full protection to your kids.
Factors relating to children
The water can be very attractive to young children. Due to curiosity and excitement, they might disobey their guardian’s instructions. They also do not understand the consequences of falling into the water. Moreover, they have limited physical coordination and very susceptible to drowning.
Factors relating to spa/swimming pools
Ineffective facilities can cause risks to occur. Another problem is the absence or ineffective placement of barriers. Floating objects in the water might also cause these accidents.
Pool Fencing Rules and Regulations You Must Know
More often than not, you always have the idea of swimming activities as fun and a good physical and recreational activity for everyone. As a pool owner who cares or everyone’s welfare, knowing these worst case scenarios could be very alarming, and will urge us to have better knowledge about the rules and regulations of pool fencing. To strengthen the assurance of preventing drowning and near drowning incidents, and upon applying for a compliance certificate, here are the Australia-wide Swimming Pool Fencing Regulations you must know:
- A building permit is required under the act and the regulations. Before installing, constructing, or altering swimming pool or spa barriers, make sure that you have a building permit on hand. The local government is responsible for issuance of building permit for spa pools, swimming pools, and its associated barriers.
- When building pool fences, it should be made with the most durable materials. It should be sturdy enough and free from damage, cracks, or holes that might exist within the structure.
- Self-closing, fitted with a self-locking latch, and opens outward away from the pool is the required features of the gate. Also, it should be at least 1.5 meters above the ground level.
- The ideal height of boundary fences should be at least 1.8 meters, and pool fences must be at least 1.2 meters.
- Pool fencing should have no footholds or objects that would allow any child or person to enter the pool premises by climbing over the top.
- Vertical gaps between the palings, panels, between the ground and the bottom of the fence should not exceed 10 cm.
Although the list of the regulations above serve as the general rules to be followed across the country, there are still variations and additional rules depending on which state your pool property is located.
Swimming Pool Fencing Regulations Based on Your Location:
In Western Australia, pools and spas approved after 2001 must comply with the general regulations above, except of the barriers such as a wall that has a door, unless it is permanently sealed. Pools built before 2001 were allowed to include the walls but should have a door that swings away from the pool and with self-locking latches.
Meanwhile in Queensland, pool owners are required to abide the general rules above, but include few specifications. They can have climbable objects within the premises, but must be at least .9 meters away from the pool fence on the outside and .3m on the inside. In addition, hinges of pool gates must be .9m apart. The lower hinge must have a safety cap and must be not climbable. Also, a CPR sign must be displayed on the area at all times.
New South Wales
In New South Wales, if the pool or spa was built between 1990 to 2010, make sure to follow the general and specific pool fencing regulations. For pools built before 1990, windows and doors may be a part of the barrier providing a door that swings away from the pool and with self-locking latches. Furthermore, pools built after 1990 to 2010 must be surrounded by a fence and it should separate the house from the pool area.
Pool fencing regulations in Victoria have the similar general regulations above; but the difference is that windows are permitted as a part of the barrier and should only open to a maximum of .1m or if possible, covered by mesh screen or bars. Pool gates should not be left open.
However, in the Northern Territory, aside from the general rules being followed, they have specific regulations for pools built prior to 2003. They can either comply with the Modified Australian Standards or the Community Safety Standard. They can directly apply for compliance without the need of Pool Safety Advisor inspection. On the other hand, pools built after 2003 must comply to the Modified Australian Standards and should be certified by the Pool Safety Advisor.
How To Comply?
The Swimming Pool Regulations in Australia have covered rules pertaining to the height and durability of the barriers, zones that can be climbed over, gates and latching, and strict access from building to pool area. After knowing these Pool Fencing Regulations, here are the few final steps that a pool property owner should accomplish in order to have a safe and compliant swimming pool for your home:
- Never forget the building permit. For you to obtain a building permit, contact your local government or pool manufacturer before having your pool constructed.
- Prepare the materials needed for the construction of the barriers. This is an important process because the materials you will use will dictate the the reliability of your property in terms of strength. Also, you must ensure that these materials comply with the requirements of Australian Standard AS 1926.1-1993.
- Consult a Pool Safety Inspector for further advice and ask him to do a formal inspection. By doing so, you will be issued a certification.
- Know how to perform a resuscitation. It is very important for a pool owner to know how to save a life of a drowning person.
- You must strictly follow all the indicated pool fencing standards based on which state you live in.
Swimming Pool Design Samples that Adhere to Australia’s Pool Fencing Standards
To have a better idea on how a compliant swimming pool property looks like, here are some images of pool designs that adhere to the Pool Fencing Standards:
This is a well-built fence that separates the residence from the pool area.
This is an example of a safety gate designed to meet the Australian Pool Fence Standards: self-locking and self-latching.
As seen on the image is a CPR sign. It is a must to display CPR sign on the pool area for you to be well-reminded and prepared in case of something happened.
What are the Penalties of Non-Compliance?
Every disobeyed law is equivalent to a penalty. Owners and occupiers have their responsibility to ensure that the barriers and fences are being maintained and operating effectively. If you are wondering what consequences you will face once you failed to comply with the pool fence requirements– you risk the lives of young children and you are also subjected to substantial fines in accordance to the law:
- According to Swimming Pools Safety Act (1972), any owner of the swimming pool found guilty of not enclosing his pool with a compliant fence, wall, or building shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding $200.
- If the convicted person still fails to comply with the Act, the offence will be furthered. Therefore, he shall pay not exceeding $10 every day during his non-compliance.
Have you had enough information about the Pool Fencing Laws? Or do you have additional thoughts that you might want to add? Let us know by leaving a comment below.