Swimming pool fences
The Building Regulations 2018 require that all swimming pools and spas installed before April 1991 must be provided with suitable barriers designed to prevent unsupervised children entering the pool area.
Pools constructed after that date are required to comply with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standard AS 1926.1.
The Standard has been amended several times over recent years.
Pools and spas
Regulation 136 of the Building Regulations 2018 applies to swimming pools and spas able to contain a water depth of more than 300mm, and being constructed or approved before 8 April 1991.
The definition of swimming pool includes the following:
- Any excavation or structure containing water and used primarily for swimming, wading, paddling or the like, including a bathing or wading pool or spa.
- Includes in-ground and above-ground pools; spas; hot tubs; jacuzzis; and indoor pools.
Bird baths; fish ponds; fountains and dams; or similar, would not be included.
All pools should now have barriers installed. Property owners with a pool or spa with no barrier or sub-standard barriers are obligated to meet the standards of the regulations at all times. It should be noted that a building permit is also required for new pool fencing.
Additionally, from 1 July 2002, any door or gate opening to the area containing a pre-1991 pool or spa must be fitted with a self-closing device. The device:
- must be located not less than 1.5 metres above the ground or the internal floor level and is required to return the door or gate to its fully closed position without any manual force.
The above applies regardless of the level of compliance before any amendment to the Standard, including where we or any other adviser have agreed the barriers complied.
The regulations also require that all pool barriers (on both old and new pools) must be maintained to operate properly at all times. This means that:
- all existing parts of the barrier (eg. hinges, self-closers) must work as they are intended to;
- no objects (including plants) must be placed near a barrier which could reduce the effectiveness of these parts — even if the objects are on an adjoining property; and
- no doors or gates to the pool area are to be left open.
Penalties for non-compliance
If you fail to comply with these regulations it could result in an on-the-spot fine of $282 or in the case of the matter ending up at court, a penalty up to $7,042 can be made. You should also be aware that the land owner, tenants and even visitors to a pool are now responsible to meet the requirements of the act. For further information, contact us on 9524 3333.
Council pool safety barrier inspections
We conduct regular random inspections of properties throughout the year, checking that pool and spa owners are meeting their obligations of installing and maintaining effective safety barriers. Stern enforcement policies are now in place where we will fine and in some cases prosecute owners if they do not comply with these safety regulations.
Pool safety regulations have now been in place for more than 10 years, so there is no excuse for not being aware of the requirements.
The Victorian Building Authority has a web page which provides pool and spa owners with information on how to comply with these regulations. The following is a link to its website which will explain the requirements.
Victorian Building Authority — swimming pools and spas website.