In case you hadn’t already noticed, the Government of New South Wales has brought in some major changes to the legislation concerning pool safety compliance for backyard pools. The legislation in question is called The Swimming Pools (Amendment) Act 2012. It covers all sorts of pools including inflatable and portable pools.
Broadly speaking, the specific effect of these changes is that it is now compulsory to ensure that your pool is surrounded by a fence that (a) acts as a child-resistant barrier, and (b) separates your pool from any residential building, from public access, and from adjoin private properties.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that you are aware of these changes to the law but are confused about how they apply to your specific pool. If so, that’s understandable since the new laws are…well…a little confusing. The NSW Government has, to date, put out no fewer than 7 different check list documents for pool owners – and even those are not quite all-inclusive. Depending on:
- When your pool was built
- The Size of your property
- Whether your property has waterfront access
There may, or may not, be some exceptions.
Either way, though, as a pool owner you’re responsible for ensuring that you’re pool is in compliance. Failure to comply could mean a hefty fine of up to $5,500. And, from 29th April 2015, pool owners need to be in possession of a Certificate of Compliance before they can sell or lease their property (note: this deadline was extended by 12 months from its original 29/04/2014 date).
So here’s our guide to what you need to know, and do, in order to make sure that you and you’re pool are in compliance.
Swimming Pool Fencing – General Requirements
Any pool – and that includes inflatable and portable pools – capable of being filled to a depth of 300mm of water must, by law, have a 4-sided fence around it. And that fence needs to comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1-2012 – Safety Barriers for Swimming Pools.
There used to be, and, to an increasingly limited extent still are, some exceptions to this. Backyard pools in:
- small properties (defined as 230m2 or less),
- large properties (defined as 2 hectares or more),
- waterfront properties
installed before 1st July 2010 were able to use the walls of the building or property boundary as part of their swimming pool area safety barrier; provided that all windows and doors were rendered child-proof. These exemptions may still apply. But if, and ONLY if, the previously exempt properties can be shown to have been continuously kept in compliance since the date of the original exemption. If not, the exemption will be removed and forever cancelled.
Swimming Pool Fencing – Specific Requirements
- The pool fence must be at least 1200mm high all the way around measured from the outside of the pool.
- If a boundary fence forms part of the pool fence, it must be at least
(a) For pools installed before 1st September 2008, at least 1200mm high measured from the outside of the fencing;
(b) For pools installed on or after 1st September 2008, at least 1800mm high measured from inside of the fencing.
- The gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground must be no more than 100mm.
- All vertical or near vertical rails on the fence and gate must be less than 100mm apart.
- If perforated or mesh fencing is used, the holes must be no more than 13mm.
- Your pool fence must be well maintained and in a good state of repair (e.g. no holes, gaps, broken rails or palings, or other damage).
Swimming Pool Fence Gate – Specific Requirements
- The gate must be self closing and latch by itself from any position.
- The gate latch must be working well so that the gate is secure and, once closed, can’t be pulled open.
- The gate must open outwards, away from the pool area.
- The release for the gate latch must be 1500mm above ground level,
The release for the gate latch must be located on the inside of the fence and be surrounded by a 450mm shield so that it must be accessed by reaching over the fence or through a latch access point that is 1200mm above ground level. The gate latch itself must be at least 150mm below the top of the fence or latch shield access point.
- It is against the law to prop or otherwise keep the gate open.
Swimming Pool No-Climb Zone – Specific Requirements
- There are no potential hand holds or foot holds within 900mm of the top of the pool fence in any direction to create a non-climbable zone. That includes planter boxes, trees, shrubs, rocks, deckchairs, furniture, BBQs, etc.
- There must be a 300mm clearance area from the barrier inside the pool area.
Swimming Pool Access and Residential Buildings – Specific Requirements
- Access to and from residential buildings to or from the street, the waterfront, or other public places must be outside of the pool enclosure, not though the pool area.
- A garage (whether attached or detached), shed, laundry, boatshed, or any structure not 100% associated with the pool is deemed to be a Residential Building – and that includes laundry lines!
- However, free-standing cabanas, pergolas, or similar structures designed to provide shade and which are solely associated with the pool and not with the residential building are permitted inside the pool area. Similarly, sheds or small structures designed and intended to house pool chemicals and equipment are permitted inside the pool area.
Swimming Pool Warning Signs – Specific Requirements
There must be an appropriate warning sign, including details of resuscitation (CPR) techniques, in the immediate vicinity of the pool area and which can be easily read from a distance of 3 metres.
Swimming Pool Requirement Exceptions – And Whether They Still Apply
For pools installed before 1st August 1990
For pools installed with doors and windows as barriers before 1/7/10
For pools built on waterfront properties
Property owners had the choice of fencing their pools, or either:
- having latchable doors and restricted window openings, or;
- using at least one side of their residential building wall or other such private building or structure to be part of the barrier.
These exception may still apply if, upon inspection, it is determined that:
- The pool barrier has not been altered or rebuilt since the date of the original exemption;
- The access to the pool has not been altered or rebuilt since the date of the original exemption;
- That the pool has been continuously kept in compliance with the following:
- There is a latch on the door at least 1500mm above floor level on every door entering the pool area.
- Doors open away from the pool and are self-latching.
- There are no pet doors or other openings to the pool area greater than 100mm.
- The windows can only open to a maximum of 100mm;
The windows are totally covered by bars or a mesh screen;
The height from the sill of the lowest opening panel of a window (to the pool area) is at least 1800mm from the ground
Above Ground Pools
The walls of an above ground pool are not considered to be a compliant pool safety barrier.
* Please note, although we have tried to be as accurate as possible, rules do change. Please do not rely solely on this information. Please check Fair Trading NSW for more information.
Do you want to reduce your pool cleaning time? Read our guide How To Clean A Pool: A Time Saving Guide.