NSW Pool Safety Barriers
NSW SWIMMING POOL LAWS
As a pool owner, you are responsible for ensuring your pool is enclosed and access to it by children is restricted at all times. You are also responsible for ensuring that it complies with relevant Australian Standards and Laws.
The Swimming Pools Act 1992 and its regulations work together with Australian Standard 1926 (AS1926) to establish the safety standards for ‘backyard’ swimming pools. These documents have been updated a number of times and, as a result, apply differently at different points in time.
The legislation can be found here:
Swimming Pools Act 1992
Swimming Pools Regulation 2008
The Australian Standard (AS1926) is a document protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced here. Copies can be purchased from SAI Global. Alternatively, your local council should have a copy of the Standard available for viewing. The relevant versions of the Australian Standard are dated 1986, 2007 and 2012.
A swimming pool is defined as a structure that is capable of being filled with 300mm of water or more and is used for swimming and other water activities. This includes: concrete pools, fibreglass pools, inflatable pools, temporary or wading Pools, above ground pools and spas.
The Swimming Pool Act 1992 and Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 apply to all swimming pools on premises where there is a residential building, a movable dwelling (eg caravan), a hotel or a motel.
What is a Swimming Pool
The Swimming Pools Act 1992 provides the following definition for a swimming pool:
“swimming pool” means an excavation, structure or vessel:
that is capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300 millimetres, and
that is solely or principally used, or that is designed, manufactured or adapted to be solely or principally used, for the purpose of swimming, wading, paddling or any other human aquatic activity,
and includes a spa pool, but does not include a spa bath, anything that is situated within a bathroom or anything declared by the regulations not to be a swimming pool for the purposes of this Act.
Swimming Pool Laws (Important Dates)
The requirements for child-resistant barriers on premises where there is a residential building vary according to when the pool was constructed. See the below important dates to determine what Legislative Requirements apply to each circumstance.
For pools built before 1 August 1990
Pre August 1990, barriers were not mandatory.
For pools built after 1 August 1990 but before 1 July 2010
The pool must be surrounded by a child-resistant barrier that separates the pool from any residential building situated on the premises and from any place adjoining the premises.
Automatic exemptions apply from the four-sided barrier for pools on very small properties (less than 230 square metres), large properties (2 hectares or over) and waterfront properties.
For pools built after 1 July 2010
The amended swimming Pools Act 1992 removes automatic exemptions from the four-sided barrier requirement for new pools on very small properties (less than 230 square metres), large properties (2 hectares or over) and waterfront properties.
All new pools must be separated by a complying barrier from the house and adjoining properties. The general requirement for child – resistant barriers on residential properties is for the pool to be separated by a complying barrier from the house, adjoining properties and public spaces at all times. Direct access from the house to the outdoor pool area is not permitted unless an exemption applies.
Local councils may grant exemptions under section 22 of the Swimming Pools Act 1992 from barrier requirements that are impracticable or unreasonable in particular cases, eg, to provide access for people with disabilities.
Please refer to the Office of Local Governments Practice Note 17 – Application of Section 22 of the Swimming Pools Act 1992 that has been developed to guide councils in NSW to assess and issue swimming pool barrier requirement exemptions.
Pool Fence & Gate – Maintenance
The owner of the premises on which a child-resistant barrier is situated must ensure that the swimming pool is at all times surrounded by a child-resistant barrier as well as keeping the child- resistant barrier maintained.
NOTE: Maintenance of the Pool Barrier includes but is not limited to the following:
Consumers should be encouraged to seek the advice and/or services of a Licensed Pool Technician, Builder or Fencing Contractor.
Pool Fence - Location
The Swimming Pool Act 1992 stipulates that an owner may decide where the required child – resistance Barrier is to be located, however, the fence must separate the pool from any residential building on the premises.
NOTE: Before owners choose the location of their pool fence they should first check with their local Council to discuss their desired location with them in order to avoid conflicting legislation or additional Local Council Guidelines.
Pool Fence – Height
Australian Standard AS 1926.1 stipulates that a pool fence shall be not less than 1.2m high all the way around.
NOTE: If the pool fence is not 1.2m high all the way around or only in some sections then the home owner should seek immediate advice from a Licensed Builder, Pool Technician or Fencing Contractor.
Pool Fence - Non Climbable Zone (NCZ)
Australian Standard AS 1926.1 stipulates that a fence must have a Non Climbable Zone (NCZ) of 900mm on the outside of the pool fence all the way around.
NOTE: Trim trees or shrubs near the pool fence and other objects such as BBQ, pot plants, toys, ladders and chairs should not encroach within the NCZ area.
The following NCZs shall be present on all barriers with a height less than 1800 mm:
- NCZ 1 is a 900 mm vertical plane on the outside face of a barrier. This NCZ may be located anywhere within the perpendicular height of a barrier or, where present, anywhere between horizontal components or handholds and footholds on a barrier
- NCZ 2 is a quadrant on the outside of a barrier created by a 900 mm radius down from the top of NCZ 1 above. NOTE: NCZ 2 is always immediately adjacent to NCZ 1 on all barriers.
- NCZ 3 is a quadrant on the outside of a barrier created by a 900 mm radius up from the top of the barrier. When the top of NCZ 1 is below the top of a barrier then NCZ 3 shall extend vertically down to the top of NCZ 1 (see Figures 2.1 and 2.11). NCZ 3 is applicable only to the space created by the quadrant and does not apply to any item or component on, or that is part of, the barrier
- NCZ 4 is required on all barriers with vertical openings 10–100 mm in width and is a 900 mm high by 300 mm deep rectangular space on the inside of the barrier and shall align with NCZ 1
Boundary Fence used as part of Pool Fence
Australian Standard 1926.1 stipulates that when a Boundary Fence (min 1.8m) is used as part of the chid-resistant barrier then the Non Climbable Zone (NCZ) of 900mm will be measured from
the inside (pool side) of the fence.
NOTE: Climbable objects or surfaces should not encroach on the 900mm non climbable zone on the inside of Boundary Fences (1.8m).
If a Horizontal Surface is located within the NCZ then a fillet is an acceptable solution which would rectify the problem.
Pool Fence - Vertical Gaps
Australian Standard AS 1926.1 stipulates that gaps between vertical members of the fence shall not be greater than 100mm,
Vertical Gaps in the fence must not be more than 100mm
NOTE: If the Vertical Gaps in the fence are greater than 100mm all the way around or only in some sections then the home owner should seek immediate advice from a Licensed Builder, Pool Technician or Fencing Contractor.
Pool Fence - Gap at Bottom
Australian Standard AS 1926.1 stipulates that the Gap at the bottom of the fence must be a maximum of 100mm.
If the Gap at the bottom of the fence is greater than 100mm all the way around or only in some sections then the home owner should seek immediate advice from a Licensed Builder, Pool Technician or Fencing Contractor.
Pool Fence - Horizontal Climable Members
Australian Standard AS 1926.1 stipulates that Horizontal Members shall not be within the 900mm Non Climbable Zone (NCZ) (on the outside of the pool fence).
If a pool fence does have Horizontal Members on the pool fence then they must be Non Climbable.
NOTE: If the Horizontal Members which form part of the fence are in the Non Climbable Zone (NCZ) all the way around or only in some sections then the home owner should seek immediate advice from a Licensed Builder, Pool Technician or Fencing Contractor.
Pool Gates - Self Closing & Latching Devices
Australian Standard AS 1926.1 stipulates that Gates shall be hung so that they ONLY swing outwards. i.e. away from the pool area. The gate must be able to swing freely through its arc of operation.
All gates must be fitted with a Self-Closing Device that will return the gate to a closed position from any position without the use of manual force.
All Gates must be fitted with a Latching Device that will automatically operate on the closing of the gate and prevent the gate from being reopened without being manually released
NOTE: A Pool Gate that is not Self Closing or does not have a Latching Device should be permanently secured until such time as the device/s can be installed. Self-Closing and Latching Devices can be purchased from most pool shops and hardware shops and are relatively easy to install.
Pool Fence - Latching Device Location
Australian Standard AS 1926.1 stipulates Latching Device Locations. Acceptable basic Latching Device Locations are:
Where a latching device is located less than 1500mm then the following applies:
NOTE: A Pool Gate which has its Latching Device at the incorrect location can easily be relocated with the use of some very basic tools to the correct location. If in doubt, consumers should be encouraged to seek the advice and/or services of a Licensed Builder, Pool Technician or Fencing Contractor.
Wall of House used as a Barrier
The Swimming Pool Act 1992 stipulates that the wall contains no opening through which access may at any time be gained to the swimming pool.
The wall must contain no door, window or other opening though which access may at any time is gained to the swimming pool.
Windows forming part of the Barrier
Windows which form part of the Child Resistant Barrier shall be fixed to the building with fasteners that can only be removed by the use of a tool.eg a screwdriver or spanner, and will only open to a maximum m of 100mm.
Child Resistant Door-set
Australian Standard 1926.1 stipulates Door-sets accessing indoor pools must comply with the following:
NOTE: Direct access from the house via a door-set to the outdoor pool area is not permitted unless an exemption applies.
The Swimming Pool Act 1992 stipulates that a Spa Pool is not required to be surrounded by a child resistant barrier so long as access to the spa pool is restricted as per the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008.
The Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 stipulates that a spa pool is not required to be surrounded by a child resistant barrier so long as access to the water contained in the spa pool is restricted, in accordance with the Swimming Pools regulation 2008.
In the absence of a pool barrier, the Swimming Pools regulation 2008 states that Spa pools must be covered and secured by a lockable child-safe structure such as a door, lid, grill or mesh.
NOTE: For portable spas, consumers must ensure that all electrical components and pumps meet electrical safety requirements and are properly covered. This can be done by checking they are marked with a mandatory electrical safety approval number or a Regulatory Compliance Mark.
Above Ground Pools
The Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 stipulates that for Above Ground Pools, including Inflatable Pools, the walls of the pool shall NOT be considered an effective child-resistant barrier.
NOTE: Consumers need to be aware that an Above Ground Pool requires a Licensed Builder to install the Above Ground Pool. In addition, Above Ground Pools are treated in the same way as any other Swimming Pool under the Swimming Pool Act 1992, Swimming Pools Regulations 2008 and Australian Standards AS 1926.1.
The Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 requires all pool owners to have a CPR Sign situated in a prominent position in the immediate vicinity of the pool. All signs need to be of a size which allows it to be read from a distance of 3 metres.
NOTE: If you do not have a CPR chart in the pool area then they can purchased from your local SPASA NSW Pool Shop, Council or Community Organisations such as The Royal Life Saving Society, St John’s Ambulance and the Australian Red Cross.
The Swimming Pools Act
In NSW, private or ‘backyard’ swimming pool safety is legislated by the Swimming Pools Act 1992 (the Act) and the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 (the Regulation). The legislation also applies to moveable dwellings, hotels and motels.
The Swimming Pools Act 1992 prescribes the fencing requirements of backyard swimming pools in NSW. Some other safety requirements are prescribed including the requirement for a CPR sign to be displayed near the pool.
The Swimming Pools Regulation
The Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 was re-made on 1 September 2008. It calls up AS1926.1-2007 Swimming Pool Safety, Part 1: Safety barriers for swimming pools, which includes new requirements for non-climbable zones, mesh sizes for fences, retaining walls that form part of a barrier and balconies that project into the pool area.
On 1 May 2011 the Swimming Pools Regulation was amended to replace certain references to the Australian Standard 1926.1-2007 Part 1: Safety barriers for swimming pools (the standard) with references to the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The BCA in turn will refer to the Standard.
The Regulation also requires that councils and the Division have the following documentation available for public inspection at no cost:
Guideline 8 Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation- This Guideline is available at the Australian Resuscitation Council website at www.resus.org.au. By registering at the website visitors can access and print the guideline free of charge. Councils and others should consider subscribing as this will allow them to access an extensive range of related material.
AS1926.1-2007, Australian Standard Swimming Pool Safety Part 1: Safety barriers for swimming pools
- This Standard (as amended 5 May 2008) is available for purchase at www.saiglobal.com.
Building Code of Australia - the Division and councils are required to make available a copy of the BCA for free public inspection.
The Australian Standard
For copyright reasons, the Division cannot make copies of the Australian Standard, AS1926.1-2007 Swimming Pool Safety, Part 1: Safety barriers for swimming pools, available to councils or other persons or bodies.
It is important to note that the maximum requirement of the clause as it relates to the Standard is that the Division and councils allow members of the public to attend any of their respective offices, libraries or outlets to look at (but not print or take any copy away of) the Standard during ordinary business hours. If a body or agency exceeds this maximum standard, this may raise serious copyright implications for that agency or body.
If councils or others wish to allow public inspection of the Standard in any way other than by personal inspection at offices, branches or outlets, they must first contact SAI Global’s copyright section for further information to ensure that copyright of the Standard is not breached. SAI Global may be contacted on (02) 82066355.
The Regulation refers to AS1926.1-2007 as published on 12 July 2007 as the relevant Standard. The 5 May 2008 version may be used for reference purposes as it corrects typographical errors and makes minor clarification to the 12 July 2007 version of the Standard.
Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Regulation 2010
Amendments made to the Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Regulation 2010 mean that from 1st September, 2010 contracts for the sale of land must include a warning in relation to a land owner's obligations under the Swimming Pools Act 1992 which states that:
"An owner of a property on which a swimming pool is situated must ensure that the pool complies with the requirements of the Swimming Pools Act 1992. Penalties apply. Before purchasing a property on which a swimming pool is situated, a purchaser is strongly advised to ensure that the swimming pool complies with the requirements of that Act."
Residential Tenancies Act 2010
Section 52 of the Residential Tenancies Act provides that a landlord must comply with a landlord’s statutory obligations relating to the health or safety of the residential premises. Section 52 includes the following note:
“Note. Such obligations include obligations relating to swimming pools under the Swimming Pools Act 1992.”
This note makes it explicit that, in accordance with the Swimming Pools Act, a landlord must ensure that a swimming pool situated on a tenanted premises must be at all times surrounded by a child- resistant barrier that separates it from any residential building on the premises and from any public or private place adjoining the premises. The barrier must be designed, constructed, installed and maintained to the standards prescribed in the swimming pools legislation applicable at the time the pool was constructed or installed, unless it has been substantially altered. In this case, the standard applicable at the time the barrier was altered applies. Landlords should contact their local council in relation to the appropriate barrier standard that applies to their rental property pool.
Tenants are urged to notify landlords immediately of any damage they detect to any barrier surrounding a pool on a residential property that they are renting. Tenants are also reminded that section 64 of the Act enables tenants to carry out urgent repairs and be reimbursed up to $1,000 for any fault or damage that causes the premises to be unsafe under certain circumstances, including if the landlord or agent cannot be contacted or does not carry out urgent repairs within a reasonable time.
This information sheet has been provided as only a summary and users of this information sheet should obtain copies of the above references to be able to review the Legislative Requirements in their entirety.
Standards can be obtained from SAI Global or may be viewed at your Local Council and NSW Acts and Regulations can be downloaded from the NSW Government website: www.legislation.nsw.gov.au
The Australian Standard (AS1926) is a document protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced here. Your local council should have a copy of the Standard available for viewing. The relevant versions of the Australian Standard are dated 1986, 2007 and 2012.
The document contains information, data and images prepared by SPASA.
While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that this document is correct at the time of publication, the Swimming Pool and Spa Association of NSW (SPASA), its agencies and employees, disclaim any andS all liability to any person in respect of anything or the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done in reliance upon the whole or any part of this document.
The information and advice published or made available through SPASA is provided for your general information only and is not to be considered as advice.
Every swimming pool or spa barrier environment is different and homeowners should seek independent expert advice in relation to a particular pool or spa barrier installation.
Whilst the information has been prepared and presented with all due care, SPASA does not warrant or represent that the information is free from errors or omission. The information contained in the document is provided for informational educational or learning purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.
Any action on your part in response to the information provided in this document is at the user’s discretion. SPASA makes no representations with respect to any information offered or provided on or through the document regarding the treatment, action, or application of any of the information provided.
SPASA expressly disclaims all and any liability to any person in respect of anything and of the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done by any person in reliance, whether in whole or part, upon the whole or any part of the contents of the document and/or any web site(s) linked to or from it.
Extracts are from the relevant Standard, or based on it, and acknowledges permission to reprint has been given by SAI Global Ltd
“Reproduced with permission from SAI Global Ltd under Licence 1206-c028”
Referenced Australian Standards may be purchased directly from SAI Global at: www.saiglobal.com