Inner West Council

Swimming pool safety

Typically, 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. These incidents could have been prevented by ensuring that adequate fences were surrounding the pool. Home owners and occupiers are urged to ensure that their backyard swimming pool and spas are safe and secure at all times, especially in the lead up to summer. When summer is approaching and many of us are thinking of beating the heat, relaxing by the pool or in the spa and spending some quality time with the family and kids always comes to mind. 

Your Responsibilities under the Act

The Swimming Pools Act 1992 requires that the owner of the premises on which a private swimming pool is situated, including spas, indoor pools, and above ground pools are surrounded by a child-resistant barrier:

  • That separates the swimming pool from any residential building situated on the premises and from any place (whether public or private) adjoining the premises, and
  • That is designed, constructed, installed and maintained in accordance with the approved standards.

Pool owners are also required to display an approved resuscitation poster that contains the warning "young children should be supervised when using this swimming pool" this poster also contains the details of resuscitation techniques.  These measures are designed to help protect children from the risk of drowning and ensure that the backyard swimming pools are is safe.

In addition, the Swimming Pools Act 1992 now requires owners as of the 29 October 2013, to notify the Council of their swimming pools (including spas) in the area, either in writing or by completing the Notification and Registration Form (on the Division of Local Government’s website) and forwarding it to Councils Regulatory Services Department. 

Basic Requirements

The Swimming Pools Act 1992 requires that the occupier of the premises on which a private swimming pool is situated, including spas, indoor pools, and above ground pools is provided with a child-resistant barrier that is maintained in a state of good repair, and that all gates or doors providing access to the swimming pool or spa are kept securely closed at all times when not in actual use.  The Act also requires the occupier to ensure that the warning notice  is displayed in the immediate vicinity of the swimming pool, detailing resuscitation techniques together with supervision warnings.

Should you wish to install or build a new swimming pool, then you are requested to contact Councils Planning Services on 9716 1800 with the objective of  discussing the lodgement of a Development Application with details, specifications and fencing arrangements with Council for approval.

Pool Gates

  • Barrier Gates must be self-closing and self-latching and must be closed at all times.
  • Gates must open outwards from the pool area.
  • No double gates are permitted.
  • Latch release mechanism must be 1.5 metres above the ground, except where a shield is used. If a shield is used the latch is positioned on the pool side near the top of the gate. The shield makes it necessary to reach over the gate to release the latch mechanism.
  • The latch release must be positioned a minimum 1.5 metres above ground level & 1.4 metres from highest lower horizontal barrier member.
  • Gate width is to be kept to a minimum (no more than 1 metre) to minimise the possibility of the weight of the gate causing the gate to drop with the self-latching mechanism failing.

Pool Fencing

Pool fencing must comply with AS1926.1-2007. The requirements in general are:

  • Minimum height 1200mm.
  • Minimum 900mm separation between the upper and lower horizontal members to maintain non-climbable zone.
  • Maximum 100mm gap under the fence.
  • Maximum 100mm gap in vertical members including any flex in material.
  • Non-climbable zone extends from the barrier 300mm into pool area and 900mm outside pool area.
  • Boundary fence to be 1800mm in height.

Resuscitation Warning Sign

All pools require a resuscitation chart or warning notice to be displayed in a prominent position in the immediate vicinity of the pool.

The following warning statements must be contained within the resuscitation sign:

  • Young children should be supervised when using this swimming pool.
  • Pool gates must be kept closed at all times.
  • Keep articles, objects and structures at least 900 mm clear of the pool fence at all times.
  • legible from a distance of at least three metres
  • maintained in a clearly legible condition. 

To check if your pool meets the requirements, you can apply to Council for a Swimming Pool Compliance Certificate.  If the pool does not comply, Council will provide you with a reasonable period of time in which to comply with the relevant requirements.

Changes to the Swimming Pools Act 1992

In 2012 the Swimming Pools Act 1992 was amended by the NSW Government  with a number of changes -

Please note the new requirements for Pool Owners:

  • Swimming pool owners are required to register their swimming pools on an online register to be provided by the NSW State Government.
  • The website is now available for registration of pools and all NSW swimming pools are to registered by their owners by 29 October 2013. The website can be accessed by clicking here 
  • Swimming Pool owners will be required to 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.
  • There is a penalty for owners who fail to register a swimming pool (penalty notice amount of $220).
  • Swimming pool owners will be required to obtain a valid swimming pool compliance certificate before being able to sell or lease a property with a pool.
  • Accredited certifiers under the Building Professional Act 2005 may conduct swimming pool inspections initiated by the pool owner.
  • Pool owners require a compliance certificate before sale or lease of their property from 29 April 2014.

As part of these changes, Ashfield Council will be:

  • Developing and implementing  a swimming pool barrier inspection program in consultation with the Ashfield community
  • Reporting annually on the number of pool inspections undertaken and the level of compliance with the requirements
  • Inspecting pools associated with tourist and visitor accommodation and multi-occupancy developments at three year intervals
  • At the request of a pool owner, inspecting pools prior to sale or lease
  • Issuing compliance certificates after an inspection which finds a pool barrier compliant with the requirements of the legislation. Compliance certificates are valid for three years.
  • 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.
  • Council may inspect any swimming pool that is the subject of a complaint to the council.
  • Councils may charge a fee for each inspection undertaken (up to a maximum of $150 for the first inspection and $100 for one re-inspection resulting from the first inspection).

Home Pool Safety Checklist

The Home Pool Safety Checklist, developed by the NSW Water Safety Taskforce in consultation with local councils, has been designed to assist pool owners determine whether their pool fence or other barrier complies with the legislation.

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 at the Councils Aquatic Swimming Centre.  The centre is open Monday to Friday 6am to 7.45pm and Saturday/Sunday/Public Holidays 6am to 5.45pm, and is contactable by calling 9797 8420 daily.

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

RESOURCES

For additional information and to assist you as a pool owner, the following websites provide information and resources (just click on the links) -

Swimming Pool Safety Checklist

Swimming Pool Compliance Certificate (Ashfield Council Certificate of Compliance)

Swimming Pool Fencing

Royal Life Saving Society

Be Pool Safe For New Pool Owners