To help reduce backyard pool drownings all swimming pool owners of the Newcastle Local Government Area (LGA) are required to register pools and spas on the NSW Swimming Pool Register.
- Tragically, every summer several toddlers and small children either die or are seriously injured in backyard swimming pools. If you own a backyard pool or spa, now is the time to ensure that it is as safe as it can be. Use the pool safety checklists to inspect your own pool.
- Is your pool safe? Pool safety is the responsibility of all pool owners – an unsafe or unsupervised pool can affect the whole community. Check that the gate self-closes from any position. Make sure there are not objects or trees near the pool barrier that would allow a small child to gain access to the pool. Check that you have a resuscitation chart visible in the pool area, and make sure you’ve discussed with your family what to do in the event that you need to use it. Use the pool safety checklists to inspect your own pool.
- Are you planning to sell or lease your property with a backyard pool or spa? From 29 April 2016, it became compulsory for all properties with a pool or spa that are to be sold or leased to have a valid Swimming Pool Compliance Certificate or current Occupation Certificate. Contact us to find out more about pool inspections in the Newcastle LGA .
- Do you have a swimming pool and/ or spa that is situated on premises on which there is tourist and visitor accommodation, more than 2 dwellings or as defined in Council's approved mandatory inspection program? If yes, the premises is subject to a mandatory inspection program at least once every 3 years.
What is the Mandatory Inspection Program?
In accordance with Section 22B of the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and Council's adopted Swimming Pool Inspection Program, an inspection is required to be carried out at least once every three years, of any swimming pool situated on premises on which there is tourist and visitor accommodation or more than two dwellings.
The program does not require inspection of a swimming pool in respect of which there is a valid certificate of compliance or a relevant occupation certificate in force.
What are the legislative requirements of an owner?
Firstly, the owner of the premises on which a swimming pool is situated must ensure that any information prescribed by the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 is entered on the NSW Government Swimming Pool Register
In addition to registration requirements, the owner of the premises must ensure they have either a valid occupation certificate less than 3 years old or a certificate of compliance. More detail is outlined below.
- Have a relevant occupation certificate for the pool: i.e. an occupation certificate issued under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 that is less than three years old and authorises the use of the swimming pool.
- Have a certificate of compliance for the pool: Engage an accredited certifier or Council to inspect the swimming pool and issue a Certificate of Compliance under Section 22C of the Swimming Pools Act 1992. For details on engaging a certifier, please refer to the NSW Government Swimming Pool Register website and the Building Professionals Board.
Applications can be made to Council by completing an application form
and paying the relevant fees.
Council also has a list of regional certifiers
who have indicated an interest in providing swimming pool certification functions.
You are also strongly encouraged to undertake your own self-assessment via the checklists on NSW Government Swimming Pool Register
website to give you an indication on whether or not your pool barrier meets required standards of performance. If you are required to engage a private certifier or Council to inspect the premises to determine compliance, industry experience suggests that a significant number of swimming pools are found to be defective and require remedial works to be completed to permit the issue of a certificate of compliance. You should make allowances for this in respect of timeframes for compliance, in addition to costs associated with carrying out of inspections.
Do I have to fence my pool?
Under the Swimming Pools Act 1992 the owner of a swimming pool has the responsibility to ensure that the pool is at all times surrounded by a complying child-resistant pool safety barrier.
Pool safety barriers must be maintained in a good state of repair as an effective and safe barrier restricting access to the pool.
What is pool safety?
Pool safety is a system of child-resistant barriers that restrict access to the pool area by children. Two factors are consistently identified with pool drownings and near drownings; access to the pool and adult supervision.
If access to the pool is restricted and maintained the child is more likely to be supervised as someone has to let the child into the pool area.
It is a sad fact that for every drowning death victim there are three to four near drowning survivors and that over 22% of near drowning victims are left with severe or persisting consequences.
Samuel Morris Foundation Director, Michael Morris
Why is pool safety important?
Although child deaths in NSW fell almost 40% in the past decade, the number of child drownings in backyard pools has not changed.
The majority of child drownings occur in private pools/ spas.
National drowning statistics 2006-07 supplied by 2007 National and NSW drowning reports
35 young children 0-4 years drowned, this is 13% of all drownings (eight in NSW)
19 males, 16 females (NSW - five male, three female)
16 drowned in swimming pools, of which 15 were home pools (four in NSW)
six drowned in bathtubs (one in NSW)
nine drowned in rivers, lakes, dams or creeks (three in NSW)
- four drowned in unknown locations (0 in NSW).
Between 2000-2005 in NSW there were 35 drownings, of which:
21 were in the child's own home pool
12 were at a relative/ friend/ neighbour's pool
two drownings were at other locations.
If you own a pool or rent a property with a pool, you have a direct impact on pool safety. You are part of the Action Plan for Pool Safety.
Prefabricated and inflatable pools
Prefabricated and inflatable pools capable of being filled with water to a depth 300mm or more may require approval but more importantly, require child-resistant barriers to prevent access to the pool by children.
Pool safety barriers
Swimming pools must be separated from a residential dwelling by a child resistant barrier.
From 1st July 2010, swimming pools located on properties which are waterfront, on land over two hectares or on very small properties (230m2 or less) can no longer use the automatic exemptions from the Swimming Pools Act 1992 .
Previously, pools located on the abovementioned properties could use the dwelling as the swimming pool barrier. This required all doors and windows from the dwelling to be made child resistant in accordance with the Australian Standard. Existing exempt properties may continue to use the exemption but only if the barrier is continuously kept compliant with the Australian Standard. If the barrier is found to be non-compliant, the Council may remove the old exemption and require compliance with the current Australian Standard.
For swimming pools constructed or completed before 1st September 2008, the barrier must comply with Australian Standard 1926~1986 ‘Fences and gates for private swimming pools’.
Swimming pools that commenced construction from 1st September 2008, must have a barrier that complies with Australian Standard 1926.1~2012 ‘Part 1: Safety barriers for swimming pools’.
You can view the Australian Standard AS1926.1-2012 'Swimming pool safety, Part 1: Safety barriers for swimming pools' online at Council Libraries. Please note due to copyright restrictions, copies of the documents are unable to be made.
Pool fencing must comply with AS1926.1-2012. Some of the requirements are:
Minimum height 1200mm for the fencing between the pool and the house
Minimum height of 1800mm for boundary fencing
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 extents from the barrier 300mm into pool area and 900mm outside pool area
Alternative boundary fence design is available where above can not be complied with. See Australian Standard for details.
Resuscitation / warning sign
All pools require a Resuscitation Chart / 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 900mm clear of the pool fence at all times'.
The Resuscitation sign:
Resuscitation / warning signs can be purchased from most pool supply shops.
Any approved sign erected between 1 September 1995 and 31 August 2008 does not require replacement and may be retained. However it is recommended that signs more than three years old be replaced, due to changes in best practice resuscitation techniques.
Gates must be self-closing and self-latching and must be closed at all times
Gates to open outwards from the pool area
No double gates are permitted
Latch release mechanism to 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
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.
Spa pool safety
Spa pools are also covered by the legislation and should be separated by a child-resistant pool safety barrier in accordance with Australian Standard AS1926.1-2012. Alternatively, the spa pool must be covered and secured by a lockable child-safe structure (such as a door, lid, grille or mesh).
What can I do?
Check there are adequate pool safety barriers in place separating the pool from the residence, adjoining properties and the neighbourhood
Are these barriers compliant with current legislation?
Ensure all of the pool safety barriers are maintained and operating eg check gates are self-closing and self-latching
Supervise children when using the swimming pool
Make sure pool gates are kept closed at all times
Keep articles, objects and structures at least 900mm clear of the pool fence at all times, eg chairs, pot plants.
Swimming Pool Legislation
The relevant legislative documents for pool safety are:
Guideline 7 Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation on the Australian Resuscitation Council website NOTE: Refer to the Regulations to inform you of the requirements rather than solely relying on AS1926.1-2012 as the Regulation excludes/ restricts some clauses of AS1926.1-2012 for pools in NSW.
Information on water safety when around swimming pools and resuscitation:
A range of Pool Inspection Assessment Checklists have been created for pool owners to useto give you an indication about whether or not your pool barrier meets the requirements in NSW. These include Indoor pools, Spa pools, Outdoor pools, and Portable pools.
More information on the Pool Inspection Self-Assessment Checklists
Guideline 7 Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation on the Australian Resuscitation Council website
Pool safety tips from the Royal Life Saving Society Australia
Swimming pools regulation 2008
On 1 September 2008 the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 came into effect, replacing the Swimming Pools Regulation 1998.
This new regulation states that 'AS1926.1-2012 Swimming Pool Safety Part 1: Safety Barriers for Swimming Pools' is now the standard for all child-resistant barriers surrounding/ restricting access to a pool.
NOTE: You should rely on the Regulation to inform you rather than solely rely on 'AS1926.1-2012' as the Regulation excludes/restricts some clauses of 'AS1926.1-2012' for pools in NSW.
Additional information can be obtained from your Accredited Certifier (for pool construction) or Council's Planning and Regulatory Services.