WA residential swimming pools need to be fenced to stop both your own and your visitors and neighbourhood kids from drowning. WA legislative requirements create the regulations to enforce these requirements. Simple really! The challenge in WA is that there is not one set of rules but a variety of rules, just to make it that little bit more complex! The multiple rules reflect the fact that when new rules are introduced they have not always been made retrospective. Hence, you end up with different rules for different properties based on when the pool was installed.
This document cannot remotely attempt to provide a definitive guide to swimming pool fence rules as these rules are simply too complicated. We can try and summarise the issue but if required, property owners and buyers should refer to the definitive Government Guide, a link to which is attached below.
In essence, the key swimming pool fence rules relate to pre and post May 2016 approved pools with special concession for pre 5 November 2001 pools.
1 Is It Important?
Owners and occupiers are responsible for ensuring that any fence or barrier restricting access to a swimming or spa pool is maintained and operating effectively. If you do not comply with the Regulations you risk the lives of young children and may face substantial fines.
2 Who Enforces the Rules?
Local City’s/Councils and Shires are required to inspect all pools every 4 years and follow up on noncompliance issues.
3 Key Requirements
|Barriers to pools installed pre-May 2016 pools||
Pools Post-May 2016 pools
|What is a pool?||
· A private swimming or spa pool contains water to a depth of at least 300 mm
· in-ground and above-ground pools (including inflatable and portable pools);
· in-ground and above-ground spa pools (but not spa baths that are normally emptied after each use); and
· bathing or wading pools.
|Barriers may consist of||
· of any fence
· or gate
as long as each part complies with relevant requirements of Australian Standard AS 1926.1-1993
|Post-May 2016 pools require an isolation barrier between an outdoor pool and the residence. Doors cannot form part of the barrier to an outdoor pool (concessions exist for indoor pools).|
|Pools constructed Pre 5 November 2001 Concession||Allows a wall that includes a door to be used as part of the barrier providing that door complies with AS 1926.1-1993|
|Fences/Barriers Can consist of||· Fences that isolate the pool within the back yard|
|· Have an inward opening door with child resistant door sets||· Not permitted|
|· A window may form part of the barrier as long as it is modified so that it meets the requirements|
|Using Boundary Fences||· Can use a boundary fence as a part of the barrier. The effective height of 1200 mm should be maintained and should be near vertical.||· AS 1926.1-2012 requires that where boundary fences are used to form part of the barrier, the effective height of 1800 mm should be maintained on the inside of the barrier.|
|Where a window forms a part of the barrier||
· Sill height less than 900 mm
o be covered by bars or mesh screens that are fixed into position Key locking devices are not acceptable and the stopping device must be permanently fixed.
· Sill height between 900 mm and 1200 mm
o If the sill height is between 900 mm and 1200 mm above the floor, the window must comply with either of the requirements described above or be fitted with a securely fixed fly screen frame that has a screen fixed to it and is in good condition. The screen fitted to the frame must be either powder coated aluminium or stainless steel. Nylon based fly wire is not of acceptable strength
· Sill height between 1200 mm or greater
o Any window that has a finished sill height of 1200 mm or greater above the floor does not require treatment.
Windows may be used providing they comply with the requirements of AS 1926.1-2012.
If the lowest openable portion of a window is less than 1800 mm from the finished ground surface, when measured from inside the pool barrier, then the openable portion of the window must either:
· be covered by bars or mesh screens that are fixed into position with fasteners that require the use of a hand tool to remove (such as an Allen key, spanner, or screwdriver). Key locking devices are not acceptable; or
· be fixed in such a way that the window is not capable of opening more than 100 mm. This 100 mm clearance applies to all openable windows including sliding and awning windows. Key locking devices are not acceptable and the stopping device must be a permanent fixture
Where a door forms a part of the barrier
Doors that form part of the pool barrier, that are permitted by the Regulations, must have the
· A wall of a building that is used as part of the barrier may contain a door that complies with AS 1926.1-1993, only if the swimming or spa pool was given building approval on or before 5 November 2001.
· be fitted with a self-closing device that will automatically return the door to the closed position. It must allow the self-latching device to operate without the application of manual force from any position that the door is capable of opening, including when resting on the latch;
· be fitted with an automated self latching device that will prevent the door from being re-opened without the application of manual force on the latch release mechanism;
· the operating part of the latch release mechanism must not be less than 1500 mm above the floor; and not contain footholds protruding more than 10 mm on the door or its frame. This is to restrict the opportunity for a young child using the foothold to climb the door and release the latching device. This must be observed in between the release of the latching device to 100 mm above the floor.
Special consideration for Indoor Pools. See regulations
Garage doors and permitter gates
|· Automated garage or perimeter gates do not comply with the requirements of the Regulations. It should not be taken for granted that these can be used as part of the barrier and any consideration to their use must be authorised by the permit authority prior to swimming or spa pool installation.|
|Non-Climbable Zones (NCZ)||Not defined in regulations||
· The minimum height of an internal pool barrier is 1200 mm. Where internal pool barriers are less than 1800 mm in height, they must have compliant non-climbable zones.
· Non-climbable zones are to be free of handholds, footholds, objects or plants that will facilitate climbing.
|Fences must be||· 1200 mm high|
|· Lowest upper horizontal member 1100 mm 900 mm above lowest lower horizontal member|
|· Lowest lower horizontal member 100 mm|
|· Maximum gap between uprights 100 mm|
|· Maximum gap between ground and bottom of barrier 100 mm|
|· Clear span from climbable objects 1200 mm from inside and outside of barrier|
|Gate latch and closers, locks||
· Gates must open outward away from pool
· All gates must be fitted with a device that will return the gate to the closed position without the use of manual force. The self-closing function must operate from any position that the gate is capable of opening, including when resting on the latch. The self-closing function should not allow the gate to inadvertently bounce back open.
· Gate latch must be 1500 mm above ground and 1400 mm above highest lower horizontal
|Gate latch Alternative to 1500 mm requirement||
The latch release is on the inside of the pool barrier and shielded;
• the latch release is positioned so that releasing the latch device would require a young child to reach over or through the barrier:
• at a height at least 1200 mm above ground level; and
• at a height at least 1100 mm above the highest of the low horizontal members.
· the latch release is at least 150 mm below the top of the gate or away from the edge of the handhold where one has been installed
· Where the gate is designed so that vertical members are spaced more than 10 mm apart and the latch release is less than 1500 mm above the finished ground level then:
· the latch release must be shielded to restrict the opening of a gate by a young child by reaching up and through the gate; either by hand or with the aid of an implement; and
· the latch release must be shielded with material that has an effective radius at least 450 mm when measured out from the latch release. Within the shielded area no gaps of more than 10 mm are permissible
|Above Ground Pools||Special requirements exist for above ground pools|
If the height of a balcony is less than 2400 mm to the finished ground surface and projects into
the inside of a swimming pool or spa enclosure, then either of the following modifications to a
balcony access must be made:
• if using the pre-November 2001
concession, the doors and windows that lead directly to the balcony area must meet the requirements as described in the following sections ‘Doors’ and ‘Windows’; or
• if the doors and windows do not comply then a barrier that meets the design and construction requirements as described
in this section must be installed and
maintained on the balcony.
If the height of a balcony is less than 1800 mm to the finished ground surface and projects into
the inside of a swimming pool or spa area then a barrier that meets the design and construction requirements as described in this section must
be installed and maintained on the balcony. This may be achieved by ensuring that the balcony balustrade complies with AS 1926.1-2012. If a pool barrier is located between the balcony
and the pool, the balcony must not project into a NCZ. If the balcony does project into a NCZ, the balcony’s balustrade must comply with AS 1926.1-2012.
4 Key Requirements:
· Post-May 2016 pools
§ Need isolation fences
§ Property can be a portion of the fence but cannot include doors and restrictions around windows
§ Range of restrictions around
· Non climbable zones
· Fence heights
· When boundary fences are used the internal height must be 1800mm as opposed to the previous 1200 mm requirement
Pre-May 2016 pools
§ Property can be a portion of the fence and can include doors and around windows as long as there are opening restrictions
§ Range of restrictions around
· Fence heights
· When boundary fences are used the internal height must be 1200 mm requirement
· A concession exists for pools that were constructed, installed or approved prior to 5 November 2001 that allows a wall that includes a door to be used as part of the barrier providing that door complies with AS 1926.1-1993.
· Specific rules apply to above ground pools.
· Spas come under the definition of private swimming pools.
· Ponds are not covered by the rules but can still be a safety hazard
· The Local Council/Shire/City is responsible for monitoring compliance with the requirements that apply to your swimming or spa pool barrier by:
§ acting as a permit authority by receiving and processing building permit applications for swimming and spa pools and their associated barriers;
§ arranging and conducting inspections of barriers at least once every four years; and
§ issuing infringement notices or commencing legal proceedings if a barrier is found to be non-compliant.
5 What are the Common Issues Regularly Found on Properties During Building Inspection?
- Pool gates are not self-closing and do not latch
- Sections of pool fences are missing
- Items have been located adjacent to side fences which makes them climbable
- A pre 5 November 2001 pool with a house window or window that opens directly onto the pool area and does not have the requisite restrictions
6 Impacts for Property Owners Selling Homes with Swimming Pools
- The majority of pre purchase building inspection clauses refer to structural defects on the residential property and hence exclude pool fencing
- The REIWA General Conditions of Sale do not cover pool fencing
- Property owners and prospective property purchases should review the last Council/Shire Pool Inspection Fence report as a component of the sale/purchase due diligence process so as to satisfy themselves that the pool fence is compliant.
7 Need More Information?
The WA Governments Informative Guide can be found at:
25 June 2018
Build, Buy, Invest in property with confidence.