As summer quickly approaches, you might be considering installing a new swimming pool or spa. Due to the statistics on child drownings in domestic pools, there are strict requirements pool owners must meet to ensure the safety of their pool. Fines of up to $5000 can result from not providing an adequate swimming pool safety barrier.
For new pools, a fence and gate are required between the house and the pool to restrict access to the pool by young children (4 years and under). The barrier is not designed to stop children from accessing the pool, but to slow them down, as no barrier is 100% effective. Adult supervision is always the best safety approach in and around pools.
The barrier must be non-climbable, and have a minimum height of 1.2 metres. The gate accessing the pool must not swing inward toward the pool. The specifications of pool safety barriers are available from your local government or in the Australian Standard (AS1926.1). Retaining walls, landscaping and other garden features can complicate the installation of a swimming pool barrier, so it is best to seek professional advice before you install a swimming pool to address possible issues early.
Before water is placed in the pool, the safety barrier must be in-place, inspected and approved by the local government authority. Someone from local government will then inspect your pool, with ongoing inspections at least every four years. Between these inspections it is the owner’s responsibility to maintain the barrier’s compliance.
Remember, the legislative requirements are not applicable only to below ground pools, but also the many temporary pools and spas that are available. If you are thinking about installing a pool or spa that holds 30cm of water or more, contact your local government authority for information regarding the building licence application and approval process that is necessary.