Pool barrier safety
As a pool owner, it is important to check your pool meets the current ACT standards for pool barriers and is as safe as possible for children. You can help keep our kids safe this summer by ensuring small children can’t easily access the pool.
What is a pool barrier?
A pool barrier is a structure designed to help restrict access to a pool or pool area. It can include traditional pool fencing, walls, boundary fencing and child resistant gates and doors.
Why are pool barriers important?
In the ACT the home swimming pool is the most common location for drowning death and injury for children under the age of five. Pool barriers are designed to help restrict access of children under five years old to a pool or pool area.
While a vital safety measure, fencing alone should not be relied on to protect against drowning risks. Children should always be supervised closely in and around pools.
Adult supervision in combination with pool fencing is the most effective method of preventing drowning.
What is the ACT Government doing to improve pool safety?
The ACT Government wants to increase the safety of children around backyard swimming pools.
Education is a key element to this, which is why the Backyard Lifeguard pool safety campaign is so important. This summer you may see the campaign being promoted across a variety of channels including online, social media, cinema, radio and on the back of buses.
In addition to the education campaign, the ACT Government is implementing pool safety reforms in the ACT. Work has been underway to develop a scheme that could require all pools to have a barrier compliant with the current standards.
Why do we need pool safety reforms?
Given the varying age of pools in the ACT, it is possible that half of them have child barriers that do not entirely meet current safety standards.
Most of these pools will have complied with the standards in place at the time they were built however we now have higher standards and better ways to keep our pools safe.
We already have a strong framework for new pools and new work conducted on existing pool barriers but, as a community, we must do more.
This is why the ACT Government is implementing pool safety reforms in the ACT.
What are the details of the scheme?
The ACT Government is considering a scheme that would require:
- all pools to have a barrier that meets current safety standards
- maintenance of pool barriers
- disclosure of compliance with pool barrier laws at the time of sale or lease of a property with a pool.
The ACT Government is working through the details of the scheme, which will be decided on through consultation with industry and the community.
How can I put my views forward on the scheme?
The ACT Government has consulted with industry on technical and operational aspects of a scheme, including standards and industry’s capacity to upgrade existing pool barriers.
In early 2019 we will be opening up the conversation with the community through a variety of engagement channels.
To participate in future community consultation, please join our project mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Pool safety reforms mailing list' in the subject line.
What can pool owners do now?
We encourage all owners to do what they can now to ensure their pool barrier meet current safety standards. Our pool barrier safety checklist is a helpful tool for pool owners to conduct a self-assessment on the level of safety provided by their barriers. The checklist is a great way for owners to gauge what work may need to be done to bring their pool barriers up to standard.
What are the current standards for pool barriers in the ACT?
Safety standards for pool barriers are designed to help restrict the access of children under five years old to a swimming pool, spa pool or pool area. They will not prevent access in every situation. Therefore, while a vital safety measure, fencing alone should not be relied on to protect against drowning risks. Children should always be supervised closely in and around pools.
Adult supervision in combination with a pool barrier is the most effective method of preventing children drowning.
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) sets out the current standards for constructing new or altering existing residential swimming pools or spa pools. These standards apply to pools in the ACT and include the requirements for pool barriers.
In accordance with the BCA a barrier must be provided around a swimming or spa pool that has a depth of water more than 300mm and must:
- be continuous for the full extent of the hazard
- be of a strength and rigidity to withstand the foreseeable impact of people
- restrict the access of young children to the pool and the immediate pool surrounds
- have any gates and doors fitted with latching devices not readily operated by young children, and constructed to automatically close and latch.
These requirements apply to in-ground and above-ground pools, temporary or permanent including wading pools, splash pools, inflatable pools, demountable pools, concrete pools, portable pools, kids’ pools and spa pools.
A pool satisfies the BCA requirements if it has safety barriers installed in accordance with the Australian Standard AS 1926 (parts 1 and 2).
AS 1926 shows the location, dimensions and other requirements for pool barriers including pool fences and gates. It does not permit outdoor pool access via a door.
The BCA is available as part of the National Construction Code series which can be accessed online at the Australian Building Code Board website.
AS 1926 is available online at the SAI Global website and can be downloaded for a fee. Alternatively, the Swimming Pool and Spa Association website provides further detail on AS 1926.
To stay up to date with pool safety reforms email email@example.com with 'Pool safety reforms mailing list' in the subject line.