Swimming pool requirements
To help reduce backyard pool drownings and keep you informed The City of Newcastle is inviting all swimming pool owners of the Newcastle Local Government Area to join a pool register.
Members of the pool register will be provided with current information about NSW swimming pool legislation to make sure their pool is safe.
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 (8 in NSW)
- 19 males, 16 females (NSW - 5 male, 3 female)
- 16 drowned in swimming pools, of which 15 were home pools (4 in NSW)
- 6 drowned in bathtubs (1 in NSW)
- 9 drowned in rivers, lakes, dams or creeks (3 in NSW)
- 4 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
- 2 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 2 hectares or on very small properties (230m2 or less) can no longer use the automatic exemptions from the Swimming Pools Act 1992 (Act).
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 1926.1~2007 ‘Part 1: Safety barriers for swimming pools’.
Hard copies of the Australian Standard AS1926.1-2007 "Swimming pool safety, Part 1: Safety barriers for swimming pools" are available online at Libraries and in hard copy at Councils administration centre located at 282 King Street Newcastle. Please note due to copyright restrictions, copies of the documents are unable to be made.
Pool fencing must comply with AS1926.1-2007. 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:
- Must be legible from a distance of at least 3 metres
- Must be maintained in a clearly legible condition.
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 3 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 AS1926.1-2007. 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:
- Swimming Pools Act 1992
- Swimming Pools Amendment Act 2012 No 77
- Swimming Pools Regulations 2008
- Australian Standard AS1926.1-2007
- The Building Code of Australia.
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 AS1926.1-2007 as the Regulation excludes/ restricts some clauses of AS1926.1-2007 for pools in NSW.
Information on water safety when around swimming pools and resuscitation:
- Pool safety checklist
- 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 "AS1926.1-2007 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 "AS1926.1-2007" as the Regulation excludes/restricts some clauses of "AS1926.1-2007" for pools in NSW. Additional information can be obtained from your Accredited Certifier (for pool construction) or Council's ESD Compliance section.
See the NSW Legislation website