Australian Standards to ensure pool and spa safety
However, before you install a swimming pool— fibreglass, vinyl, or concrete—you should know that Australia has strict standards and norms in place. Drowning is a big reason for the accidental death of young children in private backyard swimming pools. The risk of such mishaps can be minimised in private pools by installing proper pool safety fences and ensuring the supervision of young children.
The Australian Standard AS1926-2012 is considered the national standard for swimming pool safety. Each state has the discretion to devise its own pool building and pool safety laws, which you as a resident of the state will have to conform to. The same goes for poolside spa establishments, the standard for which is AS2610.2 – 2007 Private Spas.
The standards in South Australia for ensuring pool fences and safety barriers are laid down in the legislation below:
· Pools constructed before 1 July 1993: These pools are regulated by the Swimming Pools (Safety) Act 1972 (SA) and the Ministerial Building Standard (MBS) 004.
· Pools constructed on or after 1 July 1993: For these pools, the provisions and rules that apply are the same as those that were applicable at the time when the council approved the application for the pool’s construction. Basis the time of approval of the application, this can include provisions of the Development Act 1993 for South Australia (now repealed), the Building Code of Australia (BCA), and the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA), as well as associated regulations.
Pool construction requirements
New pools built after the enforcement of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 in South Australia are required to adhere to new provisions and regulations, as well as the Building Code of Australia. As per the law, people are required to get development approval for constructing a new pool. Pools in residences in South Australia are prescribed under the Planning and Design Code of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) Regulations 2017 (SA) r 33(1)(c).
The pool owner or the builder must make a notification to the local council when the construction of the new swimming pool completes, and it is ready to be filled with water. A notification is also a mandate after installing the state-prescribed child-safety barriers around the pool (discussed in the next section). It’s also necessary to obtain a permit from officials in SA before filling the new pool with water and it must not be filled until safety barriers around the pool are in place. A fence or temporary pool safety barrier complying with the norms of the Building Code of Australia is allowed to be used only for up to 2 months.
It is also important for pool owners or licensed pool building contractors to ensure that all safety features around the pool are in place on or before:
· Two months post the construction of the pool, or
· The day of filling the new pool with water.
If the new swimming pool is equipped with a water filtration system, the approval of the local council is required to ensure all safety aspects are taken care of by the pool owner or the builder. Any activity involved in the fabrication of an inflatable or aboveground swimming pool that can be filled to more than 300 mm (generally a paddling and spa pool) is usually deemed building work in section 3(1) of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016. However, spa baths are outside the purview of the Act.
Pool safety requirements
All swimming pools in the state of South Australia must have a safety barrier (a fence) all around them to restrict access to the pool by young children. The owner of the swimming pool is responsible for ensuring that the required swimming pool safety aspects are maintained as per the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (Swimming Pool Safety) Regulations 2019 (SA) r 6(1a)(b)]. Safety features prescribed under the regulations include:
· Pool fences and barriers
· Warning notices
· Secondary pool outlets
· Water recirculation systems
It is the responsibility of the local council to ensure that pool owners are conforming to state-prescribed swimming pool safety requirements. A person who fails to meet these requirements while installing a swimming pool will be held guilty of offence and could be penalized with a maximum amount of $15, 000.
Fencing around the swimming pool and spa must be constructed in a way that ensures:
· The height is at least 1.2 meters.
· The fence is permanent and proves as a barrier to unsupervised young children.
· Kids can’t climb over or crawl under using foot and hand holds.
Boundary fences that are installed as a child-safety measure around the pool should be at least 1.8 meters high and should have a 900mm non-climbable zone (NCZ) outside the pool fence. The AS 1926.1 – 2012 prescribes that the gap at the bottom of the pool fence must be not more than 100mm. Also, gates to the swimming pool area should mandatorily:
· Swing open towards outside the pool area
· Have equipped with a self-closing mechanism
· Have a latching device of at least 1.5 metres in height, away from children’s access.
If you are installing a pool and a spa at home in South Australia, you will have to adhere to these prescribed standards to avoid intervention from the concerned authorities. The maximum penalty for not meeting pool safety standards as prescribed by law in South Australia before selling a home with a swimming pool is AUD $15,000. You should always work with a pool builder who’s familiar with these regulations and get in touch with the local council for any clarifications.