Royal Life Saving had reported that approximately 36% of downing deaths, during summer, are children below the age of five years. Furthermore, in 2015 there was a 30% increase in drowning deaths in Australia and of those deaths, half occurred in swimming pools. Due to growing concerns regarding unintentional pool drownings, the NSW government has replaced the Swimming Pool Regulation 2008 and implemented the Swimming Pools Regulation 2018 which commenced on 1 September 2018. The new regulations seek to ensure that pool owners make safety a priority and that their pool and/or spa meet safety standards.
Is your pool and/or spa safe?
The 2018 regulations support the Swimming Pools Act 1992 (The Act) and feature changes to further improve the operation and administration of the Act. The Act sets out the responsibilities of pool owners and requires that pool access be restricted by a child resistant barrier to protect children.
Pools built before 1 August 1990– access to the pool from the house must be restricted at all times. Older swimming pools might include doors or windows as part of the pool fence or barrier. This is no longer allowed.
Pools built between 1 August 1990 to 1 July 2010– The pool must be surrounded by a fence that separates the pool from the house. This does not apply if the pool is a part of a small property (less the 230 square meters), a large property (over 2 hectares) or is a waterfront property.
Pools built from 1 July 2010- All pools must be surrounded by a fence that separates the pool from the house.
To prevent children from climbing over pool fences, it is integral that pool owners maintain a non-climbable zone around the pool. This means any trees, plants or objects must not be within the 90cm non-climbable zone. This also includes the space extending 30cm inside the pool area. Furthermore, any horizontal climbable bars on the pool fence must also be spaced at least 90cm apart.
The regulations also require that pool gates must swing outwards, shuts automatically without having to automatically close it and automatically locks when it closes.
From 1 September 2019, new CPR signs come into effect. From this time, all new pools must use the updated signage. All preexisting signs must be in good condition and able to be read easily from 3 meters. Owners of existing pools are not required to update their signage unless the pool is substantially altered or re-built.
You can purchase a CPR sign from a local pool shop, council or community organization such as Royal Life Saving.
Pools under construction
If a pool is under construction, the construction site must be surrounded with compliant fencing. The occupier of the premises is responsible for the erection and maintenance of a sign that states “this swimming pool is not to be occupied or used”. The sign must be displayed at all times while the pool is under construction and only removed once an occupation certificate has been issued for the pool, or once a certificate of compliance has been issued. This requirement comes into effect on 1 September 2019, failure to comply with this obligation may lead to a penalty notice being issued.
If your spa pool does not have a securely fastened, child-resistant structure (such as a door, lid, grille or mesh) preventing access to the spa when not in use, you must install a fence to prevent access to the spa area.
If you are a homeowner intending to sell or lease a property, refer to the flow chart below which outlines new regulations that may be relevant to you:
- You can access self-assessment checklists by clicking on the following link: http://www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au/checklists
- Information on the Australian Standard your pool should be following can be found in the following link: https://www.spasa.com.au/consumer-info/fencing-laws/
- Your pool will only be able to be certified if you have registered it on the NSW Swimming Pool Register: http://www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au
- A list of private certifiers who are authorised to issue certificates of compliance or non-compliance can be found by clicking on the following link: http://www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au/inspection/ListofSuperUsersandPrivateCertifiers.pdf/view