Swimming Pool Fence Regulations For New South Wales
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What Are The Pool Fence Regulations and Requirements For Sydney ,NSW ?
When it comes to building glass pool fencing sydney New South Wales (NSW), there is a relatively complicated set of rules in place. This is not only true in regards to the construction of the pools themselves, but especially regarding the fences that likewise have to be built.
When it comes to an inspection, a non-compliant pool fence can result in expensive penalties and – in the worst case – accidents or even death. Statistical evidence shows that these concerns are not misplaced: The majority of drowning deaths in private swimming pools involve children under the age of five. Hence, the law aims to make it difficult for small children to gain access to a private pool without an (parental) authority present. This is ought to be achieved by building barriers that cannot be bypassed and are considered child-resistant.
This guide shall help you to understand the main components of the applicable law and what you need to do in order to comply with it. For a complete guide to glass pool fencing benefits ,safety and other constructional requirements and ideas please see our complete guide to pool fencing
What Compliance ,Law and Australian Standards Are Applied To Pool Fencing in 2022 ?
That pool fencing itself is required, derives from the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and Swimming Pools Regulations 2018.
The Building Code of Australia (BCA), which is part of the National Construction Code (NCC), contains technical provisions and governs the way buildings and other structures have to be designed and constructed. Therefore, it sets the minimum requirements for a building in relation to its structure, fire safety, access and egress, health and amenity and energy efficiency. It is referenced and given effect in NSW through the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
The BCA refers to the Australian Standards (AS) which specify the exact requirements for buildings and constructions such as a pool fence. In NSW three of those AS are applicable, depending on when and where your pool was built:
– AS 1926-1986 regulates fences and gates for private swimming pools which were constructed prior to 30 August 2008.
– AS 1926.1-2007 concerns the safety barriers for swimming pools which were constructed between 1 September 2008 and 30 April 2013.
– AS 1926.1-2012 concerns the safety barriers for swimming pools which were constructed after 1 May 2013.
The prior exemptions are no longer valid if the swimming pool barrier is changed, remodelled, or rebuilt. The current Swimming Pools Act 1992, Swimming Pools Regulation 2008, and Australian Standard AS1926.1-2012 are then applicable.
Which Pool Fence Standards are explained by this guide?
The guide will only refer to the most current set of rules in order to allow the compliance when building a new pool or constructing a fence for a pool built within the last few years. Hence, variations to standards older than AS 1926.1-2012 are possible. But you should also keep in mind: If an existing swimming pool barrier is modified, altered or rebuilt, the current Swimming Pools Act 1992, Swimming Pools Regulation 2018 and Australian Standard AS 1926.1-2012 are applicable and therefore any previous granted exemptions may cease.
What is the so-called “Non-Climbable Zone” (NCZ) and what needs to be considered?
Lets look at Balustrade Non Climbable Zones
When looking at the AS you would notice that the law requires pool owners to make sure they maintain a ‘Non-Climbable Zone’ around the pool. This NCZ is defined as the following: “A zone on a barrier and in the space adjacent to a barrier, running the full length of a barrier including a gate, that is intended to restrict climbing of the barrier by young children.” Or in simpler words: The NCZ is a zone that cannot be climbed on by children.
How High Does A Pool Fence Need To Be ?
The law differentiates between four different NCZs for barriers less than 1800 mm in height, depending on the shape and location of the pool. Generally, the height and radius of the arc of all NCZs shall be not less than 900 mm and there should not be any handholds, plants or any other objects that facilitate climbing. If there are any climbable horizontal bars on the fence, they need to be at least 900 mm apart.
– The NCZ 1 is a 900 mm vertical plane on the outside face of a barrier.
– The NCZ 2 is a quadrant on the outside of a barrier created by a 900 mm radius down from the top of NCZ 1 above.
– The NCZ 3 is a quadrant on the outside of a barrier created by a 900 mm radius up from the top of the barrier.
– The NCZ 4 is required on all barriers with vertical openings 10-100 mm in width and is a
900 mm high by 300 mm deep rectangular space on the inside of the barrier and shall align with NCZ 1.
Although this does sound quite complicated, the following sketch should give you an idea what the different zones mean:
Please remember: NCZs only apply to barriers less than 1800 mm in height. So, if your fence is higher than that, you do not need to consider the NCZs and it may be climbable on both sides.
What Regulations Exist Regarding The Height And Dimensions of The Fence (outdoor pools)?
The law itself does not speak of fences, but uses the term ‘barriers’ in a much broader sense. The definition includes items such as fences, posts and panels, gate units, gates and door sets, constructed or natural walls retaining or otherwise, sides of buildings, and balustrades on a balcony, where they form part of the intended barrier. Important is that it should be a permanent structure that cannot be removed without the use of tools.
Related : How Much Does Glass Balustrading Cost ?
First of all, the fence should always be well maintained and be able to provide the needed safety. This means holes, loose parts or rust are not acceptable. The fence itself should have at least a height over 1200 mm from the ground level. Also, the gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground should not exceed 100 mm. The 100 mm limit applies likewise to gaps between vertical bars within the fence. When it comes to horizontal bars, these should be at least 900 mm apart. If the fence includes holes, e.g. because mesh fencing is used, the size of the holes should not exceed 13 mm.
How Close Can A Pool Be To A Boundary Fence ?
In NSW, the typical regulation regarding how near a pool may be to boundary fences is 1000mm. In light of this, pool owners should contact their local council or arrange for a pool fence inspection.
In the case that a boundary fence (between two separate properties) is part of the pool fence, it should be at least 1800 mm high, measured from the pool area.
Do the NCZ change when a boundary Fence barrier is used?
In the case that a boundary fence acts as a barrier to a pool, its height should be over 1800 mm on the inside. Instead of the NCZs 1 to 4, NCZ 5 needs to be considered. It is formed as a quadrant of 900 mm radius down from the top of the inside of the barrier.
Pool Fence Regulations Diagrams
Below is the link to the NSW govt document of pool fencing regulations. It has all the diagrams and images as well as the individual clauses and standards that will need to be adhered to when constructing any pool fence.
What about indoor pools and spas?
Most of the above mentioned criteria apply to all sorts of barriers – no matter what kind of material is used. Still, the AS 1926.1-2012 refers to mesh material (as mentioned above) and also glass. Generally, when glass is used, the barriers have also to comply with AS 1288 which regulates the use of glass in buildings.
Pool Fence Gate Requirements
Furthermore, the glass gates, if so-called top and bottom pivot style hinges are used, need to meet certain criteria. It can be said – besides the above mentioned measurements for gates – that the gap between the glass barrier and the door should measure between 50 mm to 100 mm.
Also, the material used needs to fulfil certain criteria when it comes to its strength and rigidity. Even though there are detailed requirements that have to be met in accordance with the test provided by the appendix of AS 1926.1 -2012, you could say that the material used and the construction itself have to withstand a certain amount of force (330 N) and be resistant enough to provide the necessary safety for children.
Until a new lock and closing mechanism can be installed, the pool gate should be permanently fixed if it does not automatically close and lock. The majority of hardware and pool stores provide self-closing and self-latching mechanisms, which are inexpensive and simple to instal.
Do the same rules apply to inflatable pools?
At this point, you might have decided against building your own private swimming pool, but consider to buy an inflatable one. Although it is much easier to install such kind of pool than building a permanent one, there are also rules that need to be followed as soon as the pool is able to be filled to a depth of 300 mm or more:
Similar to permanent pools, the inflatable pool should have a pool fence with at least 1200 mm height around it. Furthermore, any gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground should not exceed 100 mm. Moreover, there must be a 300 mm clearance between the barrier and the pool area. Therefore, also NCZ need to be considered to ensure the safety of children.
When it comes to the material and the construction of the fence, the same rules have to be followed that have already been mentioned.
This was a lot of information. Of course, this guide can only provide a simplified overview when it comes the requirements that have to be met in order to comply with AS 1926.1-2012. Especially the materials and the construction of such fences should be overseen by experts who are familiar with the work.
Still, after reading you should have an idea about the law you have to comply with and what will be checked by the authorities when your required pool inspection takes place. National Pool Fences prides itself in providing the most up to date knowledge and information about all pool fence laws and requirements , if you feel we have got something wrong please email us to discuss your thoughts or recommendations
The Relevant NSW laws and Regulations
Instead of asking questions like “what size pool needs a fence” or “what is the legal height for a pool fence” or “what is the maximum legal height for fencing” we have laid out the regulations and requirements for you but please also see the NSW govt link we posted further up this article as that is the governing rules and they are ( like most things ) subject to change over times. Also keep in mind hat aking and existing boundary fence pool compliant means complying to all the regulations above and then getting an inspection and sign off on the work .
- Building Code of Australia
- Swimming Pools Act 1992
- Swimming Pools Regulations 2018
- AS 1926.1-2012 – Swimming pool safety – Safety barriers for swimming pools
Miriam Nomanni holds a law degree and is currently working on her PhD. She studied for some time in the UK. She has written professionally for over 10 years.