Swimming pool safety


To prevent small children drowning, all residential swimming pools in Victoria must have physical safety barriers to restrict access of unattended children to the pool area.

At the time of writing, there are 2 sets of standards, depending on the time the pool was built:

Pools installed or approved before 8 April 1991
were required by 1/7/97 to be protected with barriers in accordance with 5.13 of the Building Regulations:

(1) This regulation applies to a swimming pool or spa:

  • on an allotment containing a Class 1 or 10 building; and
  • capable of containing a depth of water exceeding 300mm; and
  • constructed, or for which building approval was granted,before 8 April 1991.

(2) The owner of the swimming pool or spa must ensure that one or more of the following barriers are in place to restrict access to the part of the allotment or building containing the swimming pool or spa:

  • a wall of a building, but only if:
    • any door or gate in the wall complies with sub-regulation (3); and
    • any openable part of any window in the wall:
      • is not less than 2·4m above the ground or paving immediately external to the window; or
      • is not less than 1·5m above the floor of the room containing the window; or
      • has a catch, bolt or lock located not less than 1·5m above that floor level; or
      • has a securely fitted fly screen;
  • a fence and gate complying with AS 1926.1-1993 Fencing for swimming pools;
  • a paling, or imperforate fence if:
    • it is at least 1·5m in height measured above the ground level on the approach side; and
    • any door or gate in the fence complies with sub-regulation (3).

Penalty: 50 penalty units

(3) With respect to any door or gate providing access to the part of the allotment or building containing the swimming pool or spa, the owner of the swimming pool or spa must ensure:

  • that there is a lock or latch that prevents the door or gate, if the door or gate is in its closed position, from being opened by a person unable to reach the opening mechanism for the door or gate; and
  • that the opening mechanism is located not less than 1·5m above the ground, or the internal floor, level (as the case may be), measured from the approach side; and
  • that the door or gate is fitted with a self locking or self latching device that is located not less than 1·5m above the ground, or the internal floor, level (as the case may be), measured from the approach side.

Penalty: 50 penalty units.

(4) In this regulation, “owner” in relation to a swimming pool or spa means:

  • in the case of a swimming pool or spa on an allotment being purchased under a terms contract (as defined in section 2 of the Sale of Land Act 1962) under which the purchaser has become entitled to possession or to the receipt of the rents and profits, the purchaser of that allotment; and
  • in the case of a swimming pool or spa on any other allotment, the owner of that allotment.

Important Notes

(1) As of 1 July 2002 a door or gate referred to in the above Regulation 5.13 (2) (c) must be fitted with a device:

  • that is located not less than 1.5m above the ground, or the internal floor, level (as the case may be), measured from the approach side; and
  • that returns the door or gate to its closed position:
    • from any position in the range of positions from fully open to resting on the lock or latch; and
    • from a stationary start from any position within that range without the application of manual force.

(2) Any fence to be installed or altered and forms the barrier that restricts access to the part of the allotment containing the swimming pool or spa requires a building permit. This includes swimming pool and spa safety fences and any other fence that forms the barrier e.g. pailing boundary fence. Failure to gain a building permit can result in substantial penalties.

 
Pools after 8 April 1991
will have been required to comply with strict pool safety performance requirements as a pre-requisite of installation approval – originally by mandatory compliance with AS 1926.1, later by standards as approved by the authorising building surveyor as meeting the following performance requirement of the Building Code of Australia:

A barrier must be provided to a swimming pool and must:

  • be continuous for the full extent of the hazard; and
  • be of a strength and rigidity to withstand the foreseeable impact of people; and
  • restrict the access of young children to the pool and the immediate pool surrounds; and
  • have any gates and doors fitted with latching devices not readily operated by young children, and constructed to automatically close and latch.

Note that the above applies only to a swimming pool with a depth of water more than 300 mm.

The approved barriers will have been inspected following the building approval/permit and should be evident.