Pool Safety Laws
The Queensland Government has introduced new pool safety laws with the aim to further reduce the incidences of drowning and serious immersion injuries of young children in swimming pools.
Stage 1 of the new pool safety laws was introduced on 1 December 2009 and applies to new residential pools. The final stage, stage 2, commenced on 1 December 2010 and mostly affects existing swimming pools.
There is now one pool safety standard, the Queensland Development Code Mandatory Part 3.4, that replaces 11 different pool safety standards.
What the pool safety laws means for me
Under the new swimming pool safety laws:
- 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)
- the pool safety standards apply to all pools associated with houses, units, hotels, motels, backpacker hostels, caravan parks, mobile van parks and other forms of short-term accommodation
- both new and existing pools must be upgraded to comply with the new safety standards within 5 years of commencement of the legislation or earlier if sold or leased before then
- all swimming pools need to be included on the state-based pool safety register by 4 May 2011
- safety barriers are mandatory for all portable pools and spas deeper than 300 millimetres.
When the new pool safety laws standards have to be met
Pool owners have until 30 November 2015 to comply with the new pool safety standards, or earlier if their property is sold or leased before then.
If you are selling a property with a non-shared pool before the 5 year phase-in, such as pools for houses or townhouses or units with their own pool or spa, a pool safety certificate must be obtained before settlement of a contract or a notice issued before contract and before settlement advising the buyer that a certificate must be obtained within 90 days of settlement. If you are leasing your property, a pool safety certificate must be obtained before entering into the lease.
If you are selling or entering into an accommodation agreement (e.g. lease, hotel stay etc.) for a property with a shared pool associated with short-term accommodation, such as hotels, motels, backpackers or hostels, you have a six month phase-in period to obtain a pool safety certificate.
New swimming pools
All new swimming pools require a building development approval. For new swimming pools:
- mandatory follow-up inspections are required to be undertaken if the final inspection has not been done. Building certifiers are required to undertake a mandatory follow-up inspection within a set time frame after giving a building approval for a swimming pool. The time frames are six months for new pools or two years in cases where building approval is granted for a swimming pool and a new building. If the building approval is due to lapse earlier than six months or two years, the final inspection must be done before it lapses.
- compliant temporary fences are permitted for a maximum period of three months during the construction of a pool. After this time, compliant permanent barriers are required. Both the temporary and permanent fences will need to be inspected and certified by the building certifier who approved the application.
The building certifier, either a private building certifier or a Local Government building certifier, who approved the building approval must inspect and certify the pool safety barrier before the pool is filled to a depth of 300 millimetres or more.
For inspection and certification costs, check with the building certifier who approved the application to allow the pool and safety barrier to be constructed. The fee may have been incorporated into the building development application fees.
Pool Safety Register
The pool safety register has been developed under the new pool safety laws. The register is being populated with Local Governments' records of regulated pools across Queensland.
Pool owners should check the register after 28 February 2011 to ensure their pool has been registered. If your pool is not on the register after this date, you have until 4 May 2011 to register your pool. Penalties up to $2000 will apply after this time.
If the register shows that there is a current pool safety certificate for a property this can be relied on for any sale or lease of a regulated pool within a period of two (2) years of issue for a non-shared pool and one (1) year of issue for a shared pool.
Pool owners seeking a pool safety certificate will need to contact a licensed swimming pool safety inspector to arrange an inspection. The register includes a list of licensed pool safety inspectors.
Pool Safety Inspection System
From 1 December 2010, pool safety certificates are required when selling or leasing a property with a pool. Pool safety inspectors can only issue a certificate when they have placed certificate details onto the pool safety register. Pool owners and others, such as real estate agents and solicitors, will be able to search the register.
The main role of pool safety inspectors is to inspect pools to determine whether or not they comply with the pool safety standards. Upon inspection, the inspector must issue a pool safety certificate or non-conformity notice, depending on the outcome of the inspection. The non-conformity notice must state how the pool doesn't comply and what needs to be done to make it comply. The inspector can also, if agreed with the pool owner, carry out specified minor repairs (such as adjusting or replacing a latch or striker and removing climbable objects).
Should you wish to arrange a Pool Safety Certificate Inspection, a "Request for Pool Safety Certificate Inspection" form must be completed and returned to Council with the applicable fee. It is recommended that you also download the "Self-Assessment Swimming Pool/Spa Checklist" and perform your own inspection prior to Council attending on site.