Rules and regulations regarding pool fences have been changed as of this week.
Pool fencing is still continuing to be a major concern and is suspected to be contributing to the drowning deaths among children under the age of 5 years.
Please be advised that pool laws and legislation varies in different states and territories located in Australia. The following written information here relates to NSW only.
Pool Fencing Laws
Requirements for child-resistant gates and barriers will vary depending on the location of the pool and when the pool was built.
Pools built before 1 August 1990
There is to be no unrestricted access to the pool from the house at any time. Doors and windows are able to form a segment of the barrier but they must be compliant at all times.
Pools Built After 1 August 1990 but Before 1 July 1990
All pools must be fully surrounded by fencing that will separate the house from the pool. There are a few exceptions that do apply to pools on properties that are very small (has to be less than 230 square metres), larger properties of 2 hectares or over and those pools located on waterfront properties.
Pools Built After 1 July 2010
All pools built after this date must be fully surrounded by fencing that separates the house and pool.
Owners with inflatable pools must be sure the fencing complies with all laws.
The Children’s Hospital, located in Westmead, has commissioned a video that covers a wide range of pool safety topics that can be viewed here: www.kidshealth.chw.edu.au/projects.
This video can be found under ‘Drowning Prevention’ on the ‘Swimming Pool Fencing’ page on the hospital website.
Physical Measurements for Pool Fencing
All pools fencing must be in compliance with the following summarization:
The gap at the bottom of the pool fencing may not be more than 10cm from the ground level finished area
The height of the pool fencing must be at a minimum of 1.2m above the finished ground level
There are to be no gaps between any vertical bars I the fencing that are more than 10cm
Horizontal climbable bars have to be at least 90cm apart from each other so that children cannot climb up them
Shrubs, trees, barbeques or any other objects including toys and ladders cannot be within 90cm ‘non climbable zone’. This is put into effect so that a child cannot use any of these objects to climb up and over the fencing.
Doors and Windows that are Child-resistant
A variety of older swimming pools have included windows or doors as part of the standard pool package. These doors and windows are no longer allowed in the building of newer pools.
Doors in Pool Barriers
If there are windows located in the area that forms the pool barrier, they must have a screen that closes the gap to more larger than 12,5cm or a locking device.
If the requirements are not satisfied the owner will then need to install a locking mechanism or security screen. All hardware can be purchased at the local hardware store.
Gate Latching and Closing Devices
It is necessary to be sure the pool gate has the following:
The gate is never to be held or propped open by an object and should always be kept shut
Gate will swing outward away from the pool
Gate will shut automatically from the open position without having to be pushed or forced
Gate will automatically lock on its own
If the gate does not self-lock it should be permanently fastened closed until a new lock can be purchased and installed
Gate and Fencing Maintenance
All fencing screws, bolts and fasteners must be in good working order and tight. All loose parts need to be tightened or replaced.
All self-closing gate locks, latches and hinges should be lubricated with silicone or oil on a regular basis.
Pool manufactures should always provide written documentation on the maintenance of the pool. All documentation on pools and gates should be kept in a safe area so that maintenance can be performed at suggested intervals. The proper maintenance can help prevent many of the common problems associated with pool fencing and gates.