OLG issues advice to all certifiers about swimming pools

11 Jul 2016
The following advice from the Office of Local Government is issued in response to recent enquiries about out-of-ground pool walls and the application in NSW of clause 2.5.3 of AS1926.1 2012.

When the 2012 version of Australian Standard 1926.1 was released it included a new clause relating to out-of-ground walls being acceptable as child-resistant barriers. This clause does not have application in NSW.

The NSW Swimming Pools Act 1992 requires owners of premises with a swimming pool to ensure that the pool is at all times surrounded by a child-resistant barrier that separates the pool from any residential building on the premises and from any place adjoining the premises, whether public or private.

The diagrams in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to this Act illustrate the provisions of section 7.

It is the NSW Government's long-held position that out-of-ground pool walls cannot form part of the pool barrier. This position is based on specific wording in the Act which requires the pool and the pool barrier to be separate and distinct structures.

The Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 calls up the Building Code of Australia (BCA) as the prescribed standard for the design, construction, installation and maintenance of pool barriers in NSW.

Part 3.9.3 of the BCA applies. It expressly states that in NSW the walls of out-of-ground pools and above-ground pools are not considered to be effective barriers. This ensures that the BCA is consistent with the wording of the NSW Swimming Pools Act.

Council may grant exemptions from barrier requirements

The Swimming Pools Act enables a pool owner to apply for, and the local council to grant, an exemption from pool barrier requirements. The council may exempt the pool from all or any of the barrier requirements if satisfied:

  • that it is impracticable or unreasonable for the pool to comply with those requirements (considering the physical nature of the premises, the pool design or construction, or special circumstances recognised by the regulations) or
  • that alternative provision, no less effective than the requirements, exists to restrict access to the pool.

Certifiers should examine the circumstances of the pool being inspected and apply the appropriate provisions of the swimming pool legislation. Proper application of the legislation will determine the Australian Standard applicable to the pool.

The Office of Local Government reminds certifiers to be mindful of the overall scheme of the legislation.

More information