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Pools and spas

On 29 April 2016, new laws were introduced by the NSW Government applying to the sale and lease of properties with a swimming pool or spa pool in NSW. These laws have an impact on anyone who is buying, selling or leasing a property with a swimming pool or spa pool. These changes were introduced to further ensure the safety of children under the age of five around backyard swimming pools.

If you're unsure about whether these laws apply to your 'swimming pool', it may be helpful to know that the definition of a 'swimming pool' is an excavation, structure or vessel that is capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300 millimetres.

Pool structures that fall within this category include:

  • above-ground pools and spas
  • inflatable swimming pools
  • concrete and fibreglass swimming pools
  • temporary or wading pools.

Below you will find useful information about the requirements and responsibilities of owning a pool in NSW, such as pool registrations and inspections, and pool safety and barrier design requirements:

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Pool barriers - details about pool safety barrier design requirements

Supervision is the key to preventing drowning deaths or injury to young children.

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 fence or safety barrier.

You can read all about the basic pool safety barrier design requirements within Eurobodalla Shire:

Pool safety requirements - new swimming pool laws and fencing/gate requirements

Council administers the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 in Eurobodalla Shire. In this regard, Council must:

  • implement a swimming pool barrier inspection program designed with the aim of ensuring that swimming pools are protected by a child proof barrier designed to meet Australian Standard requirements
  • ensure it is notified of all swimming pools in Eurobodalla Shire
  • conduct investigations in relation to safety concerns and complaints.

Any pool structure that has the ability of being filled with 300mm of water or more, and is used for swimming and other water activities, must be registered on the NSW Swimming Pool Register at:

Pool structures that fall within this category include:

  • above-ground pools and spas
  • inflatable swimming pools
  • concrete and fibreglass swimming pools
  • temporary or wading pools.

Safety self-assessment checklists

The NSW Swimming Pool Register also contains helpful safety checklists at:

These self-assessment checklists are designed to provide you with an indication about whether or not your pool or spa barrier meets the safety standards in New South Wales.

Fences and gates

Pools must be surrounded, at all times, by a child-resistant barrier that separates the swimming pool from any residential building on the premises and from any place (whether public or private) adjoining the premises.

Any pool barrier or gate must be maintained in a good state of repair as an effective and safe child-resistant barrier.

For diagrams showing the required measurements of pool fencing, and other NSW pool safety criteria, refer to the 'Pool safety booklet' below, which was compiled on behalf of 12 NSW councils:

You can also read information about the measurements and requirements of pool barriers to ensure that they meet NSW safety standards:

Pool boundary fence

Where a boundary fence is used as a barrier restricting access to a pool, it should be a minimum of 1800mm (height measured from inside the pool area).

Internal fence and gate

Gates and pool fencing should be a minimum height of 1.2m above ground level (height measured from outside the pool area).

Costs for a dividing fence

All expenses associated with constructing, repairing, altering, replacing or maintaining a dividing fence that is used as a pool barrier is at the cost of the pool owner.

In the event that a pool is situated on more than one property that shares a dividing fence used as a pool barrier, the cost of the fence should be shared equally by each pool owner.

You can read further information about how the expenses of constructing dividing fences are apportioned:

Gaps

Any gaps in your pool fence or gate must be no greater than 100mm.

Gates

Gates are one of the most common failure for children to obtain access to a pool.

In this regard:

  • Gates must be self-closing and self-latching and must be closed at all times.
  • Gates should be no more than 1m wide - the wider it is, the more weight is applied and this can result in failure of the latching mechanism.
  • The latch release should be positioned a minimum of 1.5m above ground level.
  • Gates are required to open outwards from the pool area.
  • Where the latch release is less than 1.5m above ground level, a shield is to be used with the latch positioned on the pool side, which should be a minimum of 150mm from the top of the gate. The purpose of the shield is that it makes it necessary to reach over the gate to access the latch release mechanism.

Non-climbable zone

To prevent children climbing over a fence into the pool area, the law requires pool owners to make sure they maintain a Non-Climbable Zone (NCZ) around the pool.

The NCZ extends 900mm within, outside and above the fence and gate barrier.

Landscaping, barbeque, pot plants, chairs, steps, decks, retaining walls, associated lighting and any other furniture or fixtures must not be within the 900mm NCZ.

The NCZ is located on the inside (pool side), and extends 900mm from the top and outwards from the barrier, for boundary fences that are used as a barrier.

The NCZ extends 300mm inside the barrier, for barriers with openings greater than 10mm.

Portable, demountable and baby pools

If these pools are capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300mm, standard barrier rules apply.

For pools that are less than 300mm in height, you should always empty the pool immediately after use and pack it away so that it cannot collect rainwater and pose a risk.

Indoor pools

Access to an indoor pool should comply with the following requirements:

  • Child-resistant windows must be installed, ie, security mesh or grill permanently fixed over the opening of the window.
  • When not in use, doors must be closed at all times to restrict access for children.
  • The requirements for gates and fences mentioned above apply to indoor pools where the indoor area is separated into a pool area and non-pool activity area.