Safety Barriers for Private Swimming Pools and Spas
Drowning is the biggest single cause of accidental death among children under five years of age. It causes three out of four fatalities in Australia in this age group, and these occur mainly in private swimming pools. In 1992, the State Government established compulsory standards for pool security, which requires local governments to inspect all private swimming pools when they are installed. Inspections are then repeated at least once every four years.
Safety barriers are required to restrict children from unsupervised access to a pool or spa from both off the property and from inside buildings on the property. Barriers should include fences and gates or modified windows and doors that may allow access to a pool or spa. The extent of pool security required is determined by the age of the pool – refer to the section ‘Pool and spa barrier requirements’ below.
The Building Regulations 2012 set out the requirements for ensuring a compliant barrier is installed or provided around the swimming pool or spa.
The set out the requirements for ensuring a compliant barrier is installed or provided around the swimming pool or spa.
In addition, the Australian Standard 1926.1-1993: Fencing for swimming pools ("the Standard") defines the design requirements for swimming and spa pool barriers.
New Swimming Pools or Spas
Before constructing or installing a new swimming or spa pool that will contain more than 300mm (30cm) depth of water, an owner is required to obtain approval from the local government.
The swimming pool or spa must have a compliant barrier. If a fence forms part of that barrier, then the fence requires approval from the local government prior to installation.
On completion of works, it is the owner’s responsibility to notify the City that the construction is complete and ready for inspection.
Application Requirements for New Pools and Spas
The following is required as part of your application:
- A completed Building Permit Application
- Two copies of a site plan showing where the proposed pool and all existing buildings/structures are located on the property
- Details of the type and location of security barriers*
- Signed engineers details of the structural integrity of the pool
- Manufacturers brochure and specifications for the pool or spa
- Signed Engineers details of the structural integrity of a second hand or concrete/brick pool.
* Please note: a separate approval is required if the security barriers for a pool are not installed by the applicant of the pool approval.
Existing Pool or Spas
Owners and occupiers of a property with a private swimming or spa pool are required to maintain the barrier so that it is compliant with the regulations at all times.
The requirements to comply with pool and spa barrier regulations have varied over time and therefore, depending upon when your pool or spa was approved, different regulations apply. There are two significant dates which determine the requirements for your pool or spa, they are:
- Swimming/spa pools approved before 5 November 2001
- Swimming/spa pools approved on or after 5 November 2001.
Barriers Approved Before 5 November 2001 Must:
- Restrict access to the pool or spa by a young child from outside the property through the installation and maintenance of suitable barrier(s). These barriers include boundary/dividing fences and gates
- Ensure that any gate used as part of the barrier opens away from the pool and is self closing and self latching with latch at the required minimum height of 1.5m
- Restrict access to the pool or spa by a young child through the provision of a suitable barrier between the residence on the property and the pool/spa
- Barriers may consist of any fence (or other complying barrier), wall or gate as long as each part complies with the relevant requirements of the Standard; or the doors and windows of any building if they are designed, constructed and maintained in accordance with Section 2 of the Standard.
Barriers Approved On or After 5 November 2001 Must:
- Restrict access to the pool or spa by a young child from outside the property through the installation and maintenance of a suitable barrier(s). These barriers may include boundary/dividing fences and gates
- Install a suitable barrier that separates the pool or spa from the residence that is on the same property, however, the wall of a building may form part of the barrier
- Not include as part of the barrier any wall that contains a door unless this door is permanently sealed using a device other than a key locking mechanism. Note: All door handles must be removed
- Ensure that windows that are contained within a wall that forms part of the barrier comply with the requirements of the Standard ie: they are not able to be opened more than 100mm and require a tool to be removed, or, have a security screen installed over the open portion of the window. Please note: Key locks or finger loosened devices are not an accepted form of window lock
- Ensure that gates that form part of the barrier open away from the pool/spa and are self closing and self latching.
Pool Barrier Fence and Gate Specifications
Fences and gates accessing the part of the yard containing a pool must conform to the following:
- be at least 1.2 metres high
- gates must swing outward away from the pool
- gates must have a closer that will make the gate shut from any position
- must have a latch that self-engages when the spring closes the gate
- must have the latch release at least 1.5 metres above the outside ground surface
- must not have rails or braces that would enable a child to climb towards the latch release
- maximum spaces between vertical members of 100mm
- maximum space under a fence of 100mm
- both fences and gates must not have any rails or other non-vertical parts closer together than 900mm.
Access Via a Garage
A wall of a building that is used as part of the barrier may contain a door that complies with the Standard, only if the swimming pool or spa was given building approval before 5 November 2001. If a garage has a rear or side roller or hinged door that allows access to a pool or spa, a complying fence must be installed between the door and the pool for swimming pools or spas where building approval was given on or after 5 November 2001.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Owners and occupiers face a maximum penalty of $5,000.00 for non compliance.
The Role of Local Government
Local governments are responsible for monitoring compliance with the requirements as well as approving the construction or installation of swimming pools or spas and their barriers.
Local governments carry out inspections of swimming pools and spa barriers at least once every four years. The fee for the inspection is incorporated in your Rates.
In addition to the statutory four yearly pool inspection requirement, the City provides a pool inspection and report service upon request. The fee for an inspection is listed in the City’s Building Services Schedule of Fees.
Please note: Due to the highly technical nature of regulations and standards applicable to safety barriers for pools and spas, the information and requirements listed above are neither complete nor exhaustive, but are provided on the basis for ease of reference.
For further information visit the Building Commission WA website or contact the City on 9400 4262.