Where a barrier is 1800 millimetres or higher, the non-climbable zone can be located on the inside of the fence measured from the top of the barrier. The Queensland Development Code Mandatory Part 3.4 and the Australian Standard clearly show that to measure the height, the distance from the top of the barrier to the ground surface immediately inside the enclosure must be used. However, apart from showing a blank space adjacent to the barrier, the Queensland Development Code Mandatory Part 3.4 and the Australian Standard provide no further guidance about how objects may encroach into the space immediately adjacent to the fence. Therefore further guidance is required.
Research and experience have indicated that both the height of the fence and, particularly the prospect of a fall, is considered to be a significant deterrent and provide an adequate level of safety for a young child.Where the non-climbable zone is located on the inside of the barrier, the fence height may not measure 1800 millimetres on the outside–for example where a retaining wall separates properties. It may also be the case that objects are placed against the barrier that compromise the height on the outside of the fence–for example a ladder. It is for these reasons that the falling disincentive is maintained on the side of the non-climbable zone.
Where an object is attached or adjacent to the barrier and underneath the nonclimbable zone, a pool safety inspector should assess the object’s ability to reduce this deterrent element. If the object’s surface is flat, stable and sufficiently large that a young child could confidently jump on to the top of it, then it will reduce the deterrent element. For example, if a small shed, pool equipment enclosure or similar object is placed next to the barrier (under the non-climbable zone), a child is more likely to jump down onto the shed and then into the pool area. For objects that do not present a flat and substantial horizontal surface such as a pool pump, the deterrent effect for a young child is likely to be maintained due to the prospect of injury from jumping because of the complex and uneven surface. For example, a pool filter which is not covered with an enclosure and which has pipes, valves and other deterring surfaces would be acceptable.
The standard also allows bushes that are not easily climbable by young children to be located next to a barrier and within the nonclimbable zone as they can create an additional barrier for young children. Bushes with dense, spiked, thorned, rough or otherwise irritating or hindering foliage that would deter a young child from climbing or jumping onto it are acceptable. Bushes or shrubs that are fragile or crush easily or are so weak that a child could not climb them are also acceptable. They are acceptable even where the bushes conceal or contain thick branches that could hold a young child’s weight provided the branches are impractical for a young child to reach or use to climb down or jump onto the barrier.