The Queensland Government has introduced new pool safety laws aimed at further reducing the incidences of drowning and serious immersion injuries of young children in swimming pools. These laws affect new and existing pools. The pool fencing laws only apply to outdoor swimming pools and spas on residential land and include indoor pools, pools associated with class 3 and 4 buildings, such as hotels, motels, caretaker residences, backpackers, hostels, mobile home and caravan park pools and home stay pools.
As part of the new pool safety laws hotels, motels, resorts and other buildings providing short term accommodation are required to comply with the new pool safety standard by 1 June 2011 following a six-month phase-in period. Stage 2 of the new laws came into effect on 1 December 2010.
Under the new legislation, hotels, motels, resorts and other class 3 buildings have an option to adopt a pool safety management plan as an alternative to constructing a compliant pool barrier.
Pool safety management plans must be approved by the department. Information to assist pool owners to develop a pool safety management plan and details of how to apply for a plan are contained in the pool safety management plan guidelines.
State government pool safety inspection program – Under new Queensland Government rules, from 1 December 2010, you are required to have a pool safety certificate in place when selling or leasing a property with a pool.
Detailed information on the new legislation is available on the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning website (formerly Department of Local Government and Planning).
This information includes:
- Pool safety information for buyers, sellers, lessors and real estate agents
- Pool safety register
- Pool safety inspectors
- Licensing of safety inspectors
- Pool safety certificates
- Child safety and pools
What is the definition of a swimming pool?
The Building Act 1975 defines a swimming pool as:
Swimming pool means an excavation or structure:
a) capable of being filled with water to a depth of 300mm or more;
b) capable of being used for swimming, bathing, wading, paddling or some other human aquatic activity;
c) solely or principally used, or designed, manufactured or adapted to be solely or principally used, for the purposes mentioned in paragraph b0 despite its current use; and includes a spa pool, spa tub or similar thing (whether portable or fixed) and a wading pool (other than a portable wading pool), but does not include:
- a fish pond or pool solely or principally used, or designed, manufactured or adapted to be solely or principally used for ornamental purposes; or – a dam or tank solely or principally used, or designed, manufactured or adapted to be solely or principally used for aquaculture, marine research or storage of water; of
- a water course; or
- a portable wading pool; or
- a spa bath situated in a bathroom, other than a spa bath continually filled with water to a depth of more than 300mm; or
- a birthing pool used solely for water births
What is the definition of an outdoor swimming pool?
The Building Act 1975 defines an outdoor swimming pool as a swimming pool other than an indoor swimming pool.
What is the definition of an indoor swimming pool?
The Building Act 1975 defines an indoor swimming pool as one that is either:
a) a swimming pool completely enclosed by the walls of a building; or
b) a swimming pool on a deck or roof top of a building if the pool is, under the usual ways of entering or leaving the building, only accessible from the inside of the building.
Does an indoor swimming pool require a pool fence?
Yes. All pool owners must ensure their pool complies with the current pool safety standard by November 2015.
Pool Fencing Requirements
All pools and/or spas in Queensland that can be filled to depth of 300mm or more must have an appropriate pool fence or pool safety barrier. This includes inflatable pools that may be erected only during the summer months.
To ensure your pool fence or pool safety barrier is compliant, it must:
- Be at least 1.2m high;
- Contain a self-closing gate;
- Gap at the bottom of the fence is no greater than 100mm to the ground; and
- Be free of shrubs, pot plants, furniture etc that will compromise the height of the fence.
In relation to above ground pools, the following applies:
- Sides of the pool are at least 1.2m high all the way round;
- No bracing or indents on the sides of the pool; and
- Any ladders or filters must have a fence with a self-closing gate.
For further information, please view the latest pool safety checklist.
All pools and spas in Queensland need to be registered with the State Government. Pool owners will need to check the register to ensure their pool is registered. Fines of up to $2000 may apply if your pool or spa is not registered. You can check whether your pool or spa is registered, or register a pool or spa, by visiting the Queensland Building & Construction Commission website.
Requirements for CPR and Warning Signs
New pool safety laws require the latest cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) sign to be displayed near your pool – usually on your pool fence near the gate. Ensure your pool complies with the latest CPR sign requirements and more.
These CPR signs are available at Council offices and at most Queensland Ambulance stations. Signs to warn the public that a swimming pool is under construction must be displayed. This requirement does not apply to portable pools. An example of a warning sign can be seen below.
Pool Safety Certificates
Pool safety certificates are required when selling or leasing a property with a pool. Pool safety certificates must be obtained from a licensed pool safety inspector. Further information for pool owners may be obtained by accessing the Queensland Building & Construction Commission website.
After the inspection has been carried out, the applicant/owner will be issued with a Form 23 – Pool Safety Certificate if the pool and fence are compliant. However, if there are issues which require rectification, a Form 26 – Pool Safety Noncompliance Notice will be issued. These issues will need to be appropriately addressed and a re-inspection booked prior to the certificate being issued.
Certificates are valid for 1 year for a shared pool and 2 years for a non-shared pool.
Council pool safety inspectors
Douglas Shire Council does not provide pool safety inspections. Local pool safety inspectors can be found in the Yellow Pages. Complaints in relation to pool safety can be lodged with Council, where a compliance officer will inspect.
Frequently asked questions
Does a dam on a residential property require a pool fence?
No. Dams, rivers, creeks or other similar watercourses are not required to be fenced under the pool fencing laws.
I have a fish pond/ornamental pond. Does this need to be fenced?
No. There is no requirement to fence a fish pond or ornamental pond
I plan to put a portable spa on a deck attached to the house. Do I need to fence the pool?
Yes. A spa pool, whether portable or fixed, comes under the definition of a swimming pool.
I am constructing a pool and want to use my boundary fence as part of the pool fence. Will the fencing laws allow that?
Yes. The pool fencing laws will allow the property boundary fence to form part of the pool fence.
If my neighbour is constructing a pool and wants to use the existing boundary fence as a pool fence, do I need to move any climbable objects on my land?
No. It is the responsibility of the pool owner to ensure that pool fencing complies with the pool fencing laws.
The rear boundary of my property abuts a canal and I am proposing to construct a swimming pool between my dwelling and the canal. Do I need to erect a pool fence between the canal and the swimming pool?
A permanent body of water may only be used as a barrier if it is a canal, lake, river, creek, stream, pond, ocean, dam, or the like. See Queensland Development Code, MP3.4, Swimming Pool Barriers, Figure 19.
Can Council issue on-the-spot fines for breaches of the pool fencing requirements?
Yes. The Queensland State Government on 1 November 2003 enacted legislation that allows councils to issue on-the-spot fines for infringements of the swimming pool fencing requirements.
If a substantial proportion of my existing fence has not been properly maintained, and is in such a state of disrepair as to not be practicable to repair it, do I have to build a new fence?
Yes. The replacement fence must comply with the current pool fencing standards. If only a small part of the existing fence has fallen into a state of disrepair, it can be repaired to the same standard that applies to the existing fence.
In both instances a development approval for building work may be required to assess the work. See The Building Regulation 2006, Schedule 2B and 2C. Refer to www.legislation.qld.gov.au to view the Regulation.
I have an existing fence around my swimming pool that needs some minor maintenance which I have arranged to do. Once the fence maintenance work has been completed do I have to get it checked for compliance by a private certifier?
The work is prescribed (not requiring a pool safety certificate or building approval) if it complies with The Building Regulation 2006, Schedule 2B and 2C. Click HERE to view the Regulation.
The general rule is that if the owner intends to carry out the work he can repair up to 2.4m of fencing and up to 2 posts.
If the pool safety inspector intends to carry out the work then up to 5m of fencing may be repaired or replaced and up to 6 posts.
The pool owner must refer to the building regulation for specific details.
I have a complying pool fence that has been inspected and approved by a building certifier. However, works/alteration by my neighbour on their side of the fence means the fence is now non-complying with the Australia Standard. For example, a barbeque, table, chairs, retaining wall sited within the 1.2 metre radius is now at the top of the swimming pool fence.
Am I required to make alteration to my pool fencing to bring it back into compliance with the Australian Standard?
Yes. It is always the responsibility of the pool owner (not the neighbour) to ensure their pool complies with the pool safety standard.
If the neighbour’s side of the fence does not comply with the pool safety standard, the pool owner must either:
- Raise the fence to a height of 1800mm or more and ensure a non-climbable zone is located on their side of the fence;
- Construct a separate complying pool barrier entirely within their own property.
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