Swimming pool fencing and safety regulations

""Maintenance of pool fences and safety barriers is essential to reduce the number of drowning and serious immersion injuries of young children in swimming pools. Pool owners must maintain pool barriers, meet all pool fencing regulations and safety standards and fix damaged fencing or barriers immediately.

Swimming pool safety and regulations does not only include pool fencing. Find information about: 

Barriers

All swimming pools must be enclosed by an approved barrier that meets with state government pool safety legislation under chapter 8 of the Building Act 1975. A barrier can include:

  • fencing for the pool
  • walls of a building enclosing the pool
  • another form of barrier mentioned or provided for in the pool safety standard

Approved barriers are only one part of swimming pool safety.

Your responsibilities

It is the responsibility of property owners with pools to ensure that compliant pool barriers are in place at all times.

Tenants also have responsibilities, including:

  • keeping pool gates closed
  • ensuring there are no objects that would allow children to access the pool unattended.

Since 4 November 2011, all pool owners are required to register their pools on the state-wide pool register.

If you sell or lease your property, you are required to obtain a pool safety certificate.

Existing pools - key law changes

The current pool safety standard was introduced on 1 December 2010. All pools, new and existing, must now comply with the current standard.

The key changes are:

  • replacing 11 different pool safety standards with one pool safety standard for all pools (Queensland Development Code, MP 3.4)
  • wider application of pool safety laws to include indoor pools and pools associated with hotels, motels, caretaker residences, caravan parks, backpackers, hostels, mobile home parks and home stays
  • a phase out of child-resistant doors used as pool barriers for existing pools (self-closing and self-latching doors)
  • a requirement for the latest prescribed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) sign adopted by the Australian Resuscitation Council to be displayed near each pool
  • fencing of all portable pools and spas capable of being filled with 300 millimetres or more of water
  • mandatory inspections by local governments for immersion incidents of children under five in swimming pools.

Refer to the Department of Housing and Public Works website for more details.

Pool safety certificates

A pool safety certificate, issued by a licensed pool safety inspector, is required when selling, buying or leasing a property with a pool. Pool safety certificates are valid for one year for a shared pool and two years for a non-shared pool.

Leasing a property

If a property with a pool is leased, the landlord or body corporate will be required to obtain a pool safety certificate before the lease is signed. The certificate will be valid for two years or one year if the swimming pool is a shared pool. An example of a shared pool is a communal pool in a unit complex. Any new leases or renewals that occur in that period will be covered by the existing certificate.

Purchasing a property

If there is no pool safety certificate in effect before entering a contract or before settlement, the seller must provide an advisory notice using a Notice of no pool safety certificate to the:

To help pool owners find inspectors, the state government has an online register of licensed pool safety inspectors. All inspectors will hold a licence indicating they are properly accredited to carry out inspections. Brisbane City Council encourages pool owners to request to see the licence of the inspector. Council can provide a licensed pool safety inspector, however it may be in your best interest to seek advice from a licensed building certifier or private pool safety inspector.  

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To apply for a pool safety certificate with Council, apply for a Request for Assessment.

The form can be submitted at any Regional Business Centre or the Central Business Centre.

Legislation and building approval

The pool fencing legislation is included in the:

You must get building approval to build a swimming pool on your property. Your pool application must also include information about the location of your proposed pool barrier. You can arrange for building approval for your pool and barrier through a building certifier. 

Exemptions

You can lodge an application with Council for an exemption, however it is important to note that Council will consider the safety of young children before giving any exemptions. 

Disability exemption

The exemption application should include:

  • the form and extent of the disability
  • whether the disabled person is wheelchair-bound or mobile
  • if wheelchair-bound, whether the wheelchair can be moved unaided
  • whether the disabled person requires a full-time carer
  • medical evidence to support the application
  • a description of which provisions of the barrier regulations prevent the disabled person from gaining entry to, and exiting from, the pool enclosure
  • a description of the replacement preventative measure that will prevent young children gaining access to the pool.

Exemptions that were issued prior to the new legislation will not be revoked, provided the:

  • conditions of the exemptions are still being met
  • person the exemption applied to is still disabled and residing at the address

Impracticality exemption

Examples of reasons that may be considered as impracticable are:

  • moving or demolishing a building or part of a building
  • changing the location or size of the pool
  • removing vegetation protected from removal under an Act or Local Law.

The exemption application should include:

  • identifying the part of the pool safety standard for which you are seeking the exemption
  • a description of the replacement preventative measure that will prevent young children gaining access to the pool.

Exemptions that were issued prior to the new legislation remained valid until 30 November 2015 or earlier if the property was sold or leased first, provided the conditions of the exemptions were still being met. If the conditions were not being met, the exemption was no longer valid.

Applying for exemption

To request an exemption, apply for a Request for Assessment.

Enforcement

Queensland Government legislation allows Council to issue on-the-spot fines for pool fencing not complying with the standards.

As at 1 July 2016, the value of a penalty unit is equal to $121.90. The fine amount must be rounded down to the nearest dollar after the calculation. For example, the fine amount for an infringement of 2 penalty units is: 2 x $121.90 = $243.80; the rounded down fine amount is $243.

Fines range from 1 penalty unit to 7 penalty units. The maximum penalty for non-compliance of pool fencing legislation is 165 penalty units.

01 July 2016