NSW Pool Fencing Regulations: The Why, and When and How they were Introduced.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in NSW. This is why NSW introduced the NSW pool fencing regulations and laws. The Royal Life Saving Australia’s research statistics reports that “in Australia, where, over the past 25 years, a total of 965 children under the age of five have died from drowning. While these figures are horrifying, during this time, we have seen the rate of unintentional fatal drowning among children under five, has declined by 67%.” They added that “Swimming pool drownings are the leading location for drowning deaths among young children in Australia accounting for 52% of all drowning deaths.” They surmise that a drop in drowning deaths is due to the implementation and enforcement of government policy, public awareness and education, advocacy, and research.
The strengthening of the NSW pool fencing regulations and the regular certification of a pool barrier when each property changes hands means that, in NSW, we are pushing to improve the statistic on drowning deaths and near-drownings. Council and private certifiers make sure to educate all owners on the dangers of a backyard pool. Whether they have children or not, we reframe the issues to focus on why the laws were introduced.
When and How?
The new laws supporting NSW Pool Fencing regulations were introduced firstly in a registration campaign which ended in 2013. Owners having properties with existing pools enrol them on the NSW swimming pool register. They then complete a checklist based on the age of the pool. This prompted the initial awareness of the requirements of a pool barrier based on the build date. The builder’s professional board and NSW government set up training for private and council certifiers. They train them to understand the pool barrier requirements for pools based on the build date. The government tried to roll out the law in 2015. They delayed the rollout until April 2016 due to a lack of certifiers. They took 2016 to develop enough certifiers. The laws state that when a property with a pool changes hands (sold or leased) a copy of the sale contract or lease contract should contain a certificate of compliance or a certificate. The certificate lasts 3 years before it needs to be renewed the next time a lease or contract of sale is drawn up.
NSW Pool Fencing Regulations Most Common Compliance Failures
After inspecting pool barriers as an E1 Certifier for the last 5+years, I have come up with a common failure list.
- Gate closure. Being exposed to the weather, most outdoor pools fail because the hinges need regular maintenance. They can become brittle and the spring binds and weakens.
- Garden growth in the Non-Climb Zones. When owners have plants in and around the pool area they tend to grow into the Non-Climb Zones of the pool barrier. Plants foul the NCZ creating climbable objects.
- Furniture not associated with the pool in the vicinity. Sun lounges, tables, chairs, and BBQ grills are all not allowed inside the pool area.
- Finished ground level changes overtime decreasing the barrier height. Water can wash dirt up against the pool barriers and decrease the active height this area needs.
- Gaps underneath the barrier becoming larger than 100mm. Just as water can wash dirt up against a barrier it can also degrade the ground underneath the barrier. Thus, creating a gap large enough for a small child to fit.
These are but a few failures to comply with NSW pool fencing regulation. If you get these and more right, you speed up receiving the certificate of compliance and the lessen cost of achieving the compliance. Contact NSW Swimming Pool Certifiers 0422 292 846.