What do I need to know about fencing around a pool or spa pool?

Any pool with a water depth of 300mm (30cm) or capable of holding more than 300mm of water is required by law to have an approved fence erected to protect children from drowning. As at 2015 any pool must be fenced separate to the dwelling and may use boundary fencing providing the height of the boundary fence is 1800mm and if cross braced the distance between the top of the bottom cord and the top of the top cord are more than 900mm

There are some exemptions for above ground pools (the larger types) and spa pools and this must be assessed on site. The following information below answers the most common questions.

 

Q.  Does my portable wading pool require a barrier?

A.  No.  If the portable wading pool is not more than 300mm deep or is not capable of holding more than 300mm of water it does not fit the definition of a swimming pool under the Act.  However, these remain a danger to young children if water is not emptied immediately after use or adult supervision is not directly provided when the child is within the area in which the wading pool is situated. 

As soon as the depth exceeds 300mm or the pool can hold more than 300mm of water a barrier compliant to the Legislation will need to be installed, please contact the Shire to assist.

Q.  Does my above ground pool and/or spa pool require a barrier?

A. Yes.  Unless the walls of the pool or spa pool are not less than 1200mm high and no climbable objects appear on the outside of the pool then a barrier is not required.  For above ground type pools and spa pools the filtration, pumps and entry ladders will generally require a barrier and gate even though the height and outside surface of the pool walls may comply.

Q. What is the definition of a spa pool?

A. Spa pools can, by definition, include jacuzzis and outdoor hot tubs, however this does not include spa baths that are normally emptied after each use.

Q. I have recently purchased a cover for both my swimming and spa pool. Is this sufficient to comply with the barrier requirements? 

A. No. Placing a cover over a swimming or spa pool does not meet the barrier requirements under the Regulations. When the cover is off there is no barrier. Your statutory obligations are to provide a compliant barrier to restrict access to the swimming or spa pool area by young children at all times.

Q.  What is my Local Government’s role in relation to swimming pool barriers?

A.  Under the Act the State Government requires your Local Government to enforce barrier Legislation provided for domestic swimming or spa pools.  Your Local Government is responsible for ensuring that when a new swimming or spa pool is installed that the appropriate barrier is installed prior to the structure being filled with more than 300mm of water. 

Further, Local Governments are required to inspect swimming or spa pool barriers for compliance to the Legislation at least once in every 4 year period.  This requirement has been in place since 1992.  Your Local Government is also responsible for the issuing of infringements or legal proceedings if a barrier is found to be non-compliant. Local Governments have no power to grant exemptions or provide time for compliance. If inspections show non conformity the local government is required to implement legal action. However the rights of natural justice apply and generally a brief window of two or three days is given to comply.

Local Governments can provide a key role is assisting pool owners to select the most appropriate barrier location and design based on the features of the pool/spa prior to its installation.  This advice can assist you to ensure wrong placement or design to not become costly because of modification works, infringements issued or a child’s life is lost.

Q. What are the penalties for not installing or maintaining a barrier for swimming or spa pools?

A.  Local Government is empowered to issue infringements or penalties for non-compliance.  It is the responsibility of the owner/occupier to ensure that a compliant barrier is maintained in a functional condition at all times.

    • Upon inspection a Local Government may impose a penalty of $750 [Regulation 50(1)] without first issuing a defect/compliance notice.
    • A pool owner/occupier who fails to comply with a defects/compliance notice risks the commencement of legal proceedings in which a maximum penalty of $5,000 can be issued by the Magistrate.

Further information is available by contacting the Executive Manager Development Services of the Shire of Merredin or by visiting the Building Commission of WA website.

 

Contact Details
Contact John Mitchell
Executive Manager of Development Services
Phone (08) 9041 1611
Fax (08) 9041 2379
Email emds@merredin.wa.gov.au 
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