Barriers & fencing

Building regulations for swimming pool fencing

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.

Pool Safety Barriers Information

Council has developed a Swimming Pool Barrier Inspection Program in accordance with the Swimming Pools Act 1992, which outlines the requirements relating to swimming pools barriers and fencing and the scope of Council's proposed inspection of privately owned swimming pools, particularly those considered to be 'high risk'. The program aims to increase the level of swimming pool barrier compliance and awareness of these important requirements, within the City of Randwick.

Council has also developed a Pool Safety Barriers Information Booklet PDF, 819.25 KB, in conjunction with a number of Councils, that provides information to swimming pool owners or potential owners about pool safety requirements under the Swimming Pools Act 1992, and includes the latest changes to the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008.

This booklet elaborates on our website information and includes diagrams relating to:

  • Gates
  • Barriers
  • Fencing
  • Landscaping

Check the legislation

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.

Key fencing requirements for all in-ground pools

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.
  • An appropriate resuscitation sign (available from Council or the Royal Life Saving) must be displayed in the immediate vicinity of the pool area.

Check specific requirements for your pool

The specific requirements and standards of installation principally depend upon:

  • The time of installation of the pool, and
  • 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 Fair Trading website.

Pool Exemption Certificate

Under section 22 of the Swimming Pools Act 1992, the owner of any premises in which, or on which, a swimming pool is situated, or proposed to be constructed, may apply to Council for an exemption for the subject pool from all or any of the requirements of the Act.

Criteria for exemption

For an exemption to be granted, Council must be satisfied in the particular circumstances of the case:

  • That it is impracticable or unreasonable for the swimming pool to comply with those requirements:
    • because of the physical nature of the premises, or
    • because of the design or construction of the swimming pool, or
    • because of special circumstances of a kind recognised by the regulations as justifying the granting of an exemption
  • That an alternative provision, no less effective than those requirements, exists for restricting access to the swimming pool.

An exemption may be granted unconditionally or subject to such conditions as Council considers appropriate to ensure that effective provision is made for restricting access to the swimming pool.

How to apply for an exemption

To apply for an exemption with Council, please download the application form below and send it into Council.

Demountable, inflatable and portable pools

Did you know? It can only take seconds for a child to drown.

It is estimated there are more than 100,000 inflatable or portable swimming pools in NSW, compared to over 340,000 permanent pools. (Source: Westmead Kids Health website, June 2012.)

More than a quarter of all drowning deaths among children in backyard swimming pools in NSW happen in inflatable or portable swimming pools.

There are many more near drowning incidents that occur, some of which result in lifelong brain damage for the child.

You still need fencing

You must still, by law, have a four-sided fence around any pool that is capable of being filled with water greater than 300mm in depth.

This page and Council's Safety Information Booklet PDF, 819.25 KB provide information for all owners about fencing requirements.

Inflatable pools should be emptied when not in use. Leaving water in the pool is not only a drowning risk but water left in the pool can become unclean and cause ill health. Always store the pool away from young children when it's not in use.

If you can't afford to provide a fence around an inflatable/portable pool that is capable of being filled with water greater than 300mm in depth, your only option is to purchase a smaller inflatable pool that is less than 300mm in height that you can easily empty and put away after each use.

Pool safety practices

See our page on swimming pool safety for advice on preventing drowning and other pool accidents.

Penalties and Notices

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.

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