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Swimming pool safety

Pool fence with child
An average of ten children under five drown each year in backyard swimming pools accross Australia

Pool fence with lock

It is essential to have fences with proper safety locks around your pool

Tragically, each year on average 10 children under the age of five drown in backyard swimming pools. Many more suffer serious injuries or permanent damage as a result of near-drowning experiences.

Many of these tragedies could be prevented by ensuring that there are adequate swimming pool fences and barriers surrounding all swimming pools and spas. There is, however, no substitute for constant adult supervision. Children in and around swimming pools and spas must be watched at all times, whatever their swimming ability may be.

Home owners and occupiers must ensure that swimming pool fencing and other barriers are maintained in a good condition and that all gates are self-closing and self-latching at all times.

Here you will find information on:

Register your swimming (or spa) pool

The owner of premises must 'register' the swimming pool (or spa pool) on the NSW Swimming Pools Register, in accordance with the Swimming Pools Amendment Act 2012.

Registration must be made before the 29 October 2013 and new pools must be registered before the issue of an Occupation Certificate for the swimming (or spa) pool.

The Swimming Pools Register is administered by the NSW Government, Department of Premier & Cabinet, Division of Local Government and registration on the Swimming Pools Register may be made directly on-line via their website.

Pool owners are also required to carry out a self-assessment of their pool and to advise if it meets the relevant pool safety standards, using the checklists on the Swimming Pool Register website.

The specific requirements and standards of installation principally depend upon the time of installation of the pool and also the nature and size of the property at that time.

Please refer to the specific requirements and checklists for your swimming pool or spa pool on the website for the Division of Local Government.

To check if your pool meets the requirements, you may also wish to make a Request for Inspection and Certificate of Compliance for a Swimming Pool, for a fee of $150.  If the pool does not comply, Council will provide you with a reasonable period in which to comply with the relevant requirements.

Parents are encouraged to introduce their children to water safety at an early age and to attend swimming classes. There are a number of learn-to-swim classes available within the Randwick City area. Please refer to the local yellow pages, or contact Council's Des Renford Aquatic Centre.

Parents are also encouraged to learn resuscitation techniques in case of an emergency. Resuscitation (CPR) training is available through the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia.

For more information on these important requirements, please contact us.

Pool fencing and barriers

In NSW, there are legal requirements for pool fencing and other approved child-resistant barriers to be installed around all swimming pools and spa pools.

These laws apply to all outdoor and indoor pools. Penalties for failing to comply with these requirements range from $220 to $1100. Council officers can also issue a Notice to direct a person to comply with these requirements.

The legislation and full requirements are very detailed, so pool owners are advised to refer to the Swimming Pools Amendment Act 2012, the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 and relevant Australian Standards for the complete requirements.

Depending on the time of installation of the pool, pool fencing and other approved barriers are generally required to satisfy the following key requirements:

  • Pools installed after 1 August 1990, must be surrounded by a pool fence which fully separates the pool from any residential building situated on the premises.
  • Pools installed before 1 August 1990, must either be surrounded by a pool fence which separates the pool from any residential building on the premises, or alternatively, access to the pool area must be restricted at all times by fencing and 'child-resistant' barriers must be provided to all doors and windows which provide access to the pool area, in accordance with the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008.
  • Where 'child-resistant' doors and windows are permitted, doors must have latching devices located at least 1.5m above floor level and windows must be permanently fixed so as not to open more than 100mm or be provided with other approved barriers. There must also be no 'foot-holds', which enable a child to reach the latching or locking device or climb through the windows.
  • Internal Pool fencing must be not less than 1.2m high measured from the outside.
  • Boundary fencing which forms part of the pool barrier is not less than 1.8m high.
  • Pool gate/s must open outwards from the pool area and they must be self-closing and self-latching at all times.
  • The vertical components in the fences must not be more than 100mm apart.
  • The horizontal members in the fence must not be less than 900mm apart.
  • The space below the fence must not be more than 100mm.
  • The latching device on pool fence gate/s must not be less than 1.5m above ground level, or alternatively the latching device is to be located on the inside of the gate/fence and be shielded so it is only accessible by stretching over the gate/fence.
  • Swimming pool barriers and fencing must comply with the relevant requirements of the Building Code of Australia.

Checklist

  • Swimming pool fencing and other barriers are provided to the pool area in accordance with the Swimming Pools Act 1992.
  • Internal swimming pool fencing is at least 1.2m high all the way around, measured on the outside of the fencing.
  • Boundary fencing which forms part of the pool barrier is not less than 1.8m high.
  • All swimming pool fencing is maintained in a good condition (ie with no holes, broken or loose palings).
  • Gates to the swimming pool area open outwards and are fully self-closing and self-latching from any open position.
  • Gates are not propped open at any time.
  • There are no climbable objects such as BBQs, furniture, planter boxes or climbable trees or shrubs within 900mm of the fence which could allow a child to climb over the fence.
  • The latching device to the pool gate is located 1.5m above ground level or, alternatively, the device is located inside the gate and the latching device is appropriately shielded from the outside, to ensure the latching device is only accessible by stretching over the gate.
  • If the wall of the house forms part of the approved child-resistant barrier to the pool area (i.e. in relation to pools installed before 1 August 1990), all door and window openings in the wall/s must be 'child-resistant' in accordance with the regulations to prevent children accessing the pool area.
  • An appropriate resuscitation sign (available from Council or the Royal Life Saving Society) is displayed in the immediate vicinity of the pool area.

The specific requirements and standards of installation principally depend upon the time of installation of the pool and also the nature and size of the property at that time.

Please refer to the specific requirements and checklists for your swimming pool or spa pool on the website for the Division of Local Government.