Knowing the Victoria Pool Fencing Standards & Regulations
While it’s easy to get caught up in the fun of dreaming about installing a swimming pool or spa, the protection and active supervision of young children and adults who are not that confident in-and-around water isn’t a consideration that should be overlooked.
Since the year 2000 there have been 27 drowning deaths of children 5 years and younger in private, residential pools. In these instances, the Coroner found that in at least 20 of these cases a non-compliant safety barrier may have played a role in the deaths of the young children. As a swimming pool and/or spa owner, you have a legal obligation to ensure and maintain the correct operation of barriers and fencing around pools to help prevent avoidable deaths like these.
If you’re lost and don’t know where to begin researching, check out the following guide on spa & swimming pool fencing regulations or read the full Victoria Building Authority (VBA) or Swimming Pool and Spa Association (SPASA) guides where they pinpoint a few of the more important things to note to ensure the safety of family, pets, and friends.
Permanent Safety Barriers
During the planning phase of the swimming pool or spa install, there are requirements in Australian Standard (AS) 1926.1 outlining the design and construction of a safety barrier, also required during the construction period of the pool and/or spa.
Once the pool or spa is built, it should not be used until a permanent safety barrier is installed and a certificate of final inspection is obtained from the relevant building surveyor.
Voluntary Swimming Pool and Spa Register
You may or may not be aware that the Victorian government passed legislation in 2019, making it mandatory for swimming pools and spas to be registered as an introduction to improve spa and swimming pool safety.
While the register was scheduled to become mandatory as of June 2020, in May of that same year the Victorian Government released a press statement extending the deadline to 1 November 2020. This gave pool and spa owners an additional 5 months to complete registration. However, inspections can now be conducted upon pools and spas in Victoria as regularly as every 3 years, with failure to comply invoking penalties up to $1,800.
The Minister of Planning, Richard Wynne had this to say, “We know many people are doing it tough and this gives owners and councils more time to comply with the new regulations ahead of next summer. Pool and spa ownership is a choice and with that choice comes the responsibility of making sure they are safe.”
The media release from Swimming Pool & Spa Association of Victoria (SPASAVIC) CEO, Chris Samartzis, stated, “With the current Covid-19 environment causing people duress, extending the timelines for people to have their pools and spas registered is a welcomed response. We urge all pool and spa owners to register with their local councils by the 1st of November. It is a simple process that will provide a safe environment to enjoy the backyard pool or spa.”
For further information, please see details at the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) website.
When is a Safety Barrier Required?
Under previous regulations, if a swimming pool or spa pool had a water depth deeper than 30cm (300mm), a safety barrier needed to be installed, compliant with the Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2018. Now the requirements have been split into 3 categories based on the period your pool was constructed and installed.
A checklist for each can be found below:
According to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA), these requirements apply to the following Pools and Spas:
- outdoor in-ground pools and spas;
- outdoor above-ground pools (including inflatable pools);
- indoor pools and spa pools;
- children’s paddling and wading pools;
- spas, jacuzzi, hot tubs and swim spas.
Safety barriers are NOT required for a:
- pool and/or spa that contains less than 300 mm of water;
- bath or spa used for personal hygiene and emptied after use (located in a bathroom or ensuite);
- fish pond, fountain or birdbath; and
- water supply, storage tanks or dams.
Swimming Pool and Spa Building Standards
According to the VBA, swimming pools and spas in the State of Victoria must be compliant with numerous requirements including:
- a registered domestic builder or owner-builder MUST build and install the safety barrier for pool or spa;
- a site fence on the construction site MUST be in place before any excavation or installation of the swimming pool or spa begins;
- once the excavation begins, and the pool, structure for the pool, or spa, contains more than 300 mm of water, a safety barrier complying with Australian Standards (AS) 1926.1-2012 MUST be erected and maintained;
- if you have an outdoor pool and/or spa built after 1 May 2010, there MUST NOT be direct access to the pool area via a door from a building (i.e. garage or house);
- all pool gates MUST have a self-latching and self-closing mechanism;
- safety barriers MUST NOT be installed near structures which will allow children the ability to climb and access the pool and/or spa area. These structures include trees, barbeques, pot plants and outdoor furniture.
Pool Compliance Inspection
If you’ve adhered to the above and think you’re ready for a pool compliance inspection, you can reach out to your local registered Victorian pool inspector. These can be registered building inspectors, registered building surveyors or municipal building surveyors, though it’s important to note additional certification is required to carry out pool and spa related safety inspections. We recommend you organise an inspection as soon as possible to avoid stress and, most importantly, any costly fines.
Once inspected, if you’re successful, you will be granted a compliance certificate that states your pool is compliant with the Victorian standards. This certificate can then be submitted to your local council. Note that the Certificate of Barrier Compliance is only valid for 30 days from the day it’s issued, so don’t delay!
If you’re found to be non-compliant, the inspector will provide a report on your defects which should then be fixed within 60 days. Then you can re-organise an inspection to repeat the process.
For further information on registration, registration deadlines, pool and spa barrier requirements, and more, please visit the Victoria Building Authority website, or contact the qualified, experienced Frameless Impressions team on 1300 769 993.