Drowning is the most common cause of traumatic death in children aged under five years in Queensland. Approximately five toddlers drown in Queensland swimming pools every year. Almost all swimming pool drownings are preventable.
As the temperature increases, so too does the need to find a cool spot in which to relax and escape the heat, especially for children.
Many parents look to small inflatable pools for this relief but there are several issues parents should be aware of before buying these pools. Unfortunately, every year at Christmas time, a number of lives are lost around Australia due to children drowning in small pools. Sometimes, people just aren't aware that it only takes a small amount of water for a child to drown.
Please be aware that a new pool or SPA requires a building works permit and a final inspection certificate. The compulsory pool fence/barrier has to be compliant with current Standards and Regulations.
New State Government pool safety standards and requirements as at 1 December 2015
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) has set up a pool safety website to inform residents about State Government pool fencing safety standards and requirements that are effective from 1 December 2015, or alternatively you can call them 24/7 on 13 93 33.
Please note: Logan City Council has transferred all registered regulated pool details to the state government to add to the State pool Safety Register. Please check the register to see if your pool is registered. If your pool is not in the register, please contact the state government on its customer service number 13 93 33 or visit the QBCC website.
How does this affect you?
- The State Government pool safety standard: Both new and existing residential pools must be upgraded to comply with the Queensland Development Code Mandatory Part 3.4. An isolating pool fence must be in place. This includes the requirement for compliance of child resistant doors previously used as pool barriers for existing pools i.e. self-closing and self-latching doors.
- If your pool does not comply and Council is made aware you may receive a fine. However, to avoid a fine you can get advice from a private pool safety inspector about what to do to make it comply, organizing a compliance certificate.
- The new State Sale and Lease compliance system: Compliance with the new standard is required if the property is sold or leased. A Pool Safety Certificate will be required in this respect from a licensed Pool Safety Inspector. Please refer to the State pool Safety Register.
- Portable pools and spas: These State laws are applicable to portable pools and spas deeper than 300 millimetres. Please ascertain the cost of a complying pool fence before you purchase a portable pool or spa.
- Pools under a body corporate (i.e. pool on common property that is 'shared'). A Pool Safety Certificate will be required in this respect from a licensed Pool Safety Inspector. Please refer to the State pool Safety Register.
- Pools at hotels, motels, caravan parks and other short term accommodation where the pool is 'shared'. A Pool Safety Certificate will be required in this respect from a licensed Pool Safety Inspector. Please refer to the State pool Safety Register.
- Pool Safety Certificates: The term of a Pool Safety Certificate is 2 years for a non-shared pool and 1 year for a shared pool. Registering your pool: You need to register your pool on the State pool Safety Register.
Obtaining a Pool Safety Certificate
- Refer to the relevant State pool Safety Register
- Locate a pool safety inspector for your area from the register above and contact an inspector to engage their services.
- Only in strict circumstances of disability or impracticality can an exemption be granted.
- Please be advised that it is still a requirement to get a development permit from a private certifier after Council has made a decision if and to which extent an exemption for the pool fencing has been granted.
- Application must be made to Council and approved for an exemption:
- Application for Pool Safety Standard Exemption (PDF 70 KB)
- Site-plan of development, which contains proposed alternative solutions to prevent a young child accessing the pool.
- Certificates where applicable.
- Supporting documentation of the alternative solutions.
- Council must be given access for a site inspection.
- Fees paid in full.
*Please take note that applications may be refused if the above-mentioned items are not supplied.
- That applications may be refused if the above-mentioned items are not supplied.
- An exemption ends if:
(a) the applicant stops being the owner of the regulated pool; or
(b) the person because of whom the exemption was granted is no longer an occupier of the land on which the pool is situated; or
(c) it would no longer be physically impracticable for the person because of whom the exemption was granted to access the pool if it complied with the pool safety standard.
Portable pools and spas
Portable pools and spas can pose a serious safety risk to young children. A number of child drownings in recent years have occurred in portable pools and spas. It is therefore important to consider the safety of young children around these pools.
If your portable pool or spa can hold more than 300 millimeters of water, has a volume of more than 2,000 liters or has a filtration system, the new laws apply to you. You will need to:
- Obtain a certificate from a licensed building certifier stating that your pool complies with the pool safety standard, before filling the pool or spa with more than 300 millimetres of water.
- Obtain a building approval.
- Register your pool or spa.
If you are selling, buying or leasing your property with a pool or SPA, a safety certificate is required from a licensed pool safety inspector. Alternatively, the portable pool or spa can be removed.
If your portable pool is disassembled and cannot hold more than 300 millimeters of water, it does not need to comply with the pool safety standard until it is assembled and can hold water more than 300 millimetres of water.
Exclusions from the new laws
Queensland's pool safety laws do not apply to portable pools or spas that:
- Cannot be filled with more than 300 millimetres of water.
- Have a maximum volume of 2,000 litres.
- Have no filtration system.
All three criteria above must be met to be excluded. Many models of portable pools sold at department stores and pool shops meet these criteria, but you should check before buying.
On-the-spot fines for inadequate fencing
The state government's pool fencing requirements allow Council to issue on-the-spot fines of 7 Penalty Units** for an individual and 20 Penalty Units** for a corporation to those pools/ SPA that do not have adequate fencing.
Also failure to comply with an enforcement notice may result in a Penalty Infringement Notice of 20 Penalty Units** for an individual and 100 Penalty Units** for a corporation and/or prosecution.
** One Penalty Unit is $121.90 since the 1 July 2016.
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission has set up a pool safety website to inform residents about pool fencing laws or you can call them 24/7 under 13 93 33.
Decommissioning of a pool
Should you decide to decommission or remove a swimming pool and/or a spa from private property, please review Council's fact sheet. This can be alternative for you, instead of complying with pool safety standards.
Preventing your pool from becoming a health concern
If you are not going to use the swimming pool anymore but you do not want to permanently get rid of it or, you are not going to use it for a while, say during winter, you have two options:
1. Keep the filtration and chlorination devices running as normal, so that:
- The pool water will not go stagnant and encourage mosquito breeding
Organic matter such as tree leaves that may have fallen into the pool does not have a chance to accumulate, decompose and cause a smell
Algae will not grow, decompose and cause a smell.
2. Take one or more of the following measures:
- Keep the water in the pool covered or treated with kerosene, other suitable oil, or other suitable substance
- Keep the water stocked with mosquito-larvae-destroying fish
- Completely draw off or empty all water from the pool and allow the interior to dry, or thoroughly scrub all parts of the interior of the pool after emptying, at least once in every seven days.
* In time, a drawn-off pool may crack or even collapse. Please consult a pool construction/maintenance consultant for advice.