Pool Safety

When most people think of swimming pools, they think of fun. Sadly, fun in the water can quickly turn to tragedy when safety isn’t prioritised. In an effort to reduce the high number of accidents and deaths that happen in Queensland each year, the government has been phasing in a new set of pool fence safety laws. The first phase of those laws went into effect in December 2009; the second phase began on 1 December 2010. Whether you own a house that has a pool, are planning to buy or sell a property that has a pool, or are involved in short-term accommodation properties that have pools, it is critical to ensure that those pools are compliant with the new laws. The following information can help you do precisely that.

The New Pool Fence Safety Laws

The new pool fence safety laws primarily affect existing pools. Although the new laws have different impacts in different situations, there are a handful of things that apply across the board:

 When buying, leasing or selling a property that has a pool, a pool safety certificate is required. That certificate is valid for one year for shared pools and for two years for non-shared pools.

New and existing pools must be upgraded to comply with the new standards within five years. In cases when a property is being leased or sold before then, they must be made compliant sooner.

The new Queensland pool safety standards apply to all pools that are associated with motels, hotels, units, houses, hostels, caravan parks and other types of short-term accommodation. In short, the new laws essentially apply to everyone who owns a property that has a pool associated with it.

All portable pools and spas that are more than 300 millimetres deep must have safety barriers.

In addition to the preceding points, all pools must be listed in the official pool safety register. The register is designed to ensure that all pools meet the strict safety standards of the state of Queensland.

How the New Laws Affect Different Situations

Homeowners

If you own a home that has a pool on its property, you have five years to make it compliant with the updated safety standards. The official deadline for those who own properties with pools is 30 November 2015. Keep in mind, however, that the deadline changes if you decide to lease or sell your property. Furthermore, it is best to bring it up to the new standards as quickly as possible. In addition, your pool must be registered with the pool safety register by 4 May 2011.

Landlords

Before you can lease your property to a new tenant, you must bring any pools that are on the property up to current pool safety standards. This is enforced by the fact that a pool safety certificate is required before a property with a pool on it can be leased or sold. The certificate can only be obtained from a licensed pool safety inspector.

Sellers

Like landlords, those who want to sell properties that have pools must obtain pool safety certificates first. The certificate must be obtained before the settlement of contract occurs. The only other option is to issue a notice of no pool safety certificate, or ‘form 36’, before the contract and before settlement. In that case, the buyer must obtain a pool safety certificate within 90 days of settlement.

Short - Term Accommodation Providers

There is a six-month phase-in period during which those who become involved with short-term accommodation properties – like hotels and motels – can obtain pool safety certificates. In the case of units and townhouses with shared pools, you will have two years to obtain a pool safety certificate.

All Pool safety inspections are completed by a licensed Swimming Pool Safety Inspector (licence no. 100409) 

What is the Pool Safety Register?

The pool safety register is a part of Queensland’s new pool safety measures. It has been compiled using local governments’ records of regulated pools. Beginning on 28 February 2011, pool owners can check the register to make sure that their compliant pools are listed. If you check the register at that time and discover that your pool is not listed, you have until 4 May 2011 to get your pool properly registered.

The register will serve as a way for the government to keep track of pool owners’ compliance with new pool safety laws. Records of pool safety certificates will be kept within the register. Failure to properly register a pool can result in fines of up to $2,000. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that your pool is registered before the deadline.

Why Do We Need Pool Fencing Laws?

The primary reason that we need pool fencing and pool safety laws involves the health and well-being of our children. In Queensland, drowning is the number one cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. After pool safety laws were first introduced in Queensland in 1991, the number of child drownings was cut in half. However, the numbers and statistics are still troubling. The average age of a child who drowns in Queensland is two. Between the beginning of 2004 and the middle of 2010, 41 children under the age of five drowned in residential pools in Queensland. It is hoped that the more strictly enforced new laws, which require compliant barriers and fences for all pools, will bring these troubling statistics down even more.

Pool Safety Inspection Checklist

In order to obtain a pool safety certificate, your pool must pass the inspection of a licensed pool safety inspector. There is no point in scheduling such an inspection if your pool is not compliant. Familiarise yourself with the following points and make sure that your pool complies with them before scheduling your inspection:

  • Pool Fences

    Make sure your fence is at least 1.2 metres high and that it includes a non-climbable portion of at least 900mm. Any gaps must be smaller than 100mm.

  • Pool Gates

    Your pool gates must swing away from your pool and have to self-close and self-latch. Latches need to be at least 1.5 metres high.

  • Dividing Fences

    If you use dividing fences, they must be at least 1.8 metres high; your side must be non-climbable.

  • Climbable Objects

    A climbable object is defined as having a ledge or toehold that is at least 10mm. These objects must be kept at least 900mm from the outside of your pool fence. Climbable objects must be kept at least 300mm from the inside of your pool fence.

  • Doors

    Doors cannot open from your house directly into the pool area.

  • Resuscitation Signs

    Make sure resuscitation signs are visible from the pool area.

  • Windows

    Install security screens on any windows that open into your pool area.

  • Branches

    Trim branches so that children can’t use them to gain access to your pool area.