Private swimming pools safety requirement
In New South Wales, drowning is one of the main causes of death for children under the age of five. On average, 10 children drown in private swimming pools with a significantly greater number experiencing serious long term injuries such as brain damage.
The State Government has recognised the hazards associated with private swimming pools and has introduced amendments to the Swimming Pools Act (the Swimming Pools (Amendment) Act 2012) with the aim of increasing the level of safety for private swimming pools.
Swimming pool registration - All private Swimming Pool Owners, must have had their swimming pools registered before 29 October 2013 on the NSW Government website. Click here to register your swimming pool.
Swimming Pool Certificate of Compliance - From 29 April 2014, all properties with a swimming pool or spa pool that are sold must have a valid swimming pool certificate of compliance (including properties on the market with a pool or spa). A swimming pool certificate of compliance is valid for a period of three years from the date of its issue and certifies that the pool and pool barrier meet safety requirements.
Application for Certificate of Compliance for Swimming Pool Fence (January 2015)
Fact sheets about leasing or selling a property with a swimming pool or spa is available from the Office of Local Government.
Swimming Pool Barrier Inspection Program - Fairfield City Council is currently in the process of developing a swimming pool barrier inspection program in consultation with the community. The State Government requires the program to be commenced in October 2013 and is designed to ensure that pools, safety barrier(s) and gates are installed, operated and maintained to the Australian Standard.
Pool owners were recently asked to complete an online survey regarding their pools. The result, and any submissions lodged, will be taken into consideration in the development of Council's swimming pool fence/barrier inspection program which will need to be adopted by Council, and will determine how often Council will inspect swimming pools throughout the area.
Definition of a Swimming Pool - The Swimming Pools Act 1992 defines a swimming pool as:
“An excavation, structure or vessel:
(a) that is capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300 millimetres, and
(b) that is solely or principally used, or that is designed, manufactured or adapted to be solely or principally used, for the purpose of swimming, wading, paddling or any other human aquatic activity,
and includes a spa pool, but does not include a spa bath, anything that is situated within a bathroom or anything declared by the regulations not to be a swimming pool for the purposes of this Act”.
Fairfield City Council’s Obligations under the Act
· Develop and implement a swimming pool barrier inspection program in consultation with their communities no later than 29 October 2013
· Report annually on the number of pool inspections undertaken and the level of compliance with the requirements
· Inspect pools associated with tourist and visitor accommodation and multi-occupancy developments at three year intervals *1
· At the request of a pool owner, inspect pools prior to sale or lease *1
· Issue compliance certificates after an inspection which finds a pool barrier compliant with the requirements of the Legislation. Compliance certificates are valid for three years.
*1- Mandatory inspections by Council of tourist, visitor and multi-occupancy developments, and pools associated with property sale and lease to commence by Council no later than 29 April 2014.
Note: A swimming pool subject to an occupation certificate is exempt from an inspection program for three years from the date of issue of the occupation certificate unless the pool is subject of a complaint during this period
Note: Councils may inspect any swimming pool that is subject of a complaint to Council
Note: Council powers of entry will be consistent with the Local Government Act 1993
Note: Council will charge a fee for each inspection and reinspection undertaken
Private Swimming Pool Owner/s Obligations under the Act
· To register their swimming pools before 29 October 2013 on an online register to be provided by the State Government’s Division of Local Government *1
· Self-assess, and state in the register that, to the best of their knowledge, their swimming pool complies with the applicable standard when registering their pool
· Provide a valid swimming pool compliance certificate before being able to sell or lease a property with a pool from 29 April 2014 *2
*1-: Owners failing to register a swimming pool after 29 October 2013 can receive a penalty infringement notice amount of $220.
*2- Accredited certifiers under the Building Professionals Act 2005 may conduct swimming pool, inspections initiated by the pool owner. Please visit www.bpb.nsw.gov.au to search for accredited certifiers.
Private swimming pools are controlled by the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and the Swimming Pools Regulation 2000. This Legislation also relates to swimming pools associated with Motels, Hotels and multi-occupancy buildings (flats and multi-storey residential towers).
The Act prescribes the fencing requirements of private swimming pools. Additional requirements are also specified in the Act relating to the display of CPR signage facing inside the pool area.
The Regulation calls up AS 1926.1, which details the requirements for non-climbable zones, mesh sizes for fences, retaining walls that form part of a barrier and balconies that project into a pool area.
Links have been provided on this page directly to the Act and Regulation.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have checked Councils website and cannot find where to register my swimming pool. Where can I register my pool? The registration of swimming pools is undertaken by using the Division of Local Government’s online register. The register is due to be available for use after the 29 of April 2013.
I am not sure when my swimming pool was built. How do I find the date that it was built to determine what Standard I need to comply with? You can call Council to find out what date your pool was built, which will help you when you register your pool.
I want to install an inflatable pool in my yard for just a few hours. Do I need to comply with these new requirements? If the pool meets the definition of a swimming pool under the Act, it will need to comply with the Act, Regulation and prescribed standards irrespective for the proposed length of time of installation. The pool installation will also need prior approval from Council or a privately accredited certifier.
I don’t want my in-ground swimming pool anymore. Can I just fill it in? No, a Development Application would need to be lodged seeking Councils approval for the demolition of the pool. Once approval is obtained, the swimming pool would need to be properly demolished.
What if my fence/barrier is found to not comply? Depending on the non-compliance matters, the owners will be provided with a list of upgrades necessary to comply.
My resuscitation chart has faded. Where can I buy a new chart? New CPR charts are available at Councils administration building for a fee. The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia also sell CPR signage via their website.
Do I have to be home when Council inspects the swimming pool fence/barrier? Not necessarily, however Council officers will need to be assured safe access to and around the swimming pool area. If access to and around the pool area is either unsafe or inaccessible, the inspection will need to be re-arranged and a re-inspection fee may need to be paid. Inspections of swimming pool fences/barriers occur between 8.30am-4.30pm during business hours.
How long does the inspection take? If the pool area is fully compliant, the inspection on average takes between 15 to 30 minutes, however if defects are found, additional time will be needed to record the defects and ascertain appropriate methods of resolving the technical non-compliance issue.
The Council officer took photos or video of my fence even though it was fully compliant. Why? As part of Councils inspection programme, a video and/or photos of the fence will be captured for records purposes on completion of the inspection.
Swimming Pools Act 1992.
Swimming Pools Amendment Act 2012
Swimming Pools Regulation 2008
Royal Life Saving Society NSW Website - www.bepoolsafe.com.au
NSW Government Website - www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au
Kids Health - Pool Safety