Latest News (QLD)
When is a pool safety certificate required?
Recently, the Pool Safety Council received complaints about
pool safety inspectors incorrectly informing pool owners that
they need to obtain a pool safety certificate by 30 November 2015, even if they do not sell or lease the property.
A pool safety certificate is generally only required if there is a sale or lease of a property with a regulated swimming pool. The only other situation where a pool safety certificate is required is when the owner of a class 1a property (single dwelling) is constructing a pool fence and obtains a pool safety certificate in place of applying for a building development application under schedule 2C of the Building Regulation 2006.
What is required after 30 November 2015?
By 30 November 2015, all regulated swimming pools in
Queensland will be required to have barriers that comply with
the pool safety standard. This does not mean that all properties require a pool safety certificate by this date. Put simply, if a local government inspects a regulated swimming pool today (where no sale or lease has occurred), it will assess the barriers on the standard that was in effect at the time of construction. After 30 November 2015, any local government that inspects a regulated swimming pool in Queensland will assess the barriers against the current pool safety standard. Many people have questioned how a pool owner is expected to have the knowledge to undertake a self-assessment of their pool barriers by 30 November 2015. The Department of Housing and Public Works has published a number of documents to assist pool owners with this. Fact sheets are available at www.hpw.qld.gov.au. The department also advises owners to engage a pool safety inspector in a consultancy capacity for site-specific advice.
Relying on photographs or video footage as evidence to
issue pool safety certificates
In order to issue a pool safety certificate, a pool safety inspector
must have inspected the pool and be reasonably satisfied that it
complies with the pool safety standard. The Pool Safety Council
is aware of instances where pool safety inspectors have failed to re-inspect a property prior to issuing a pool safety certificate
because they have relied on photographs or video footage as
evidence of compliance. This is not an acceptable practice and
should not be undertaken by a pool safety inspector.
Unless a regulated pool is located within a prescribed remote
local government area (listed under schedule 2A of the Building
Regulation 2006) and that local government has, by resolution,
declared the area to be remote, a pool safety inspector must
personally inspect the pool before issuing a pool safety
Giving pool safety certificates to owners
Section 246AA of the Building Act 1975 requires that, if a pool
safety inspector inspects a regulated pool and is reasonably
satisfied the pool is compliant, they must, within two business
days after the inspection, give the owner a pool safety
The Pool Safety Council has received a number of complaints
from pool owners regarding pool safety inspectors not giving
a pool safety certificate until the fee for the inspection or
reinspection is paid to the pool safety inspector.
If a pool safety inspector finds that the pool owner will not pay for the services that the pool safety inspector has performed,
then the pool safety inspector should seek legal advice to
recover any debts owed.
A pool safety inspector must also not refuse to issue a
pool safety certificate only on the grounds that there is no development approval to carry out building work that is the construction of, or alteration to, the pool (the pool work) or the
pool work does not comply.
There will be some situations where compliance with the pool
safety standard may impact on fire safety measures. In these
cases, more detailed analysis is required to develop a solution
that accommodates the separate laws. For example, if a fire exit
for a building provides direct access to an outdoor pool area, a
barrier may be required between the pool area and fire exit to
satisfy the pool safety standard.
Fire doors and exits must be clearly marked in accordance with
the National Construction Code. Under no circumstances
should a fire door or exit be locked or blocked in order to meet
the pool safety requirements. If a pool safety inspector is unsure
whether the pool safety requirements will interfere with fire
safety measures, they should contact a building certifier for specific advice. In certain cases where it is impossible to meet the requirements of both the pool safety laws and the fire safety laws, the pool owner may make an application to their local government for an impracticality exemption.
Prescribed minor repairs
A pool safety inspector and pool owner can agree for the pool
safety inspector to carry out minor repairs to make the pool
comply with the pool safety standard. However, a pool safety
inspector can carry out minor repairs only if they hold an
If a pool safety inspector is unclear about whether their licence
is unconditional, they should check the back of their licence.
If nothing is written on the back of the licence, they have been
issued with an unconditional licence. If the licence states
‘Not permitted to carry out minor repairs on regulated pools’
then the pool safety inspector cannot perform any work on a
pool barrier. In this situation their functions are restricted to
inspecting the barrier and issuing either a pool safety certificate
or nonconformity notice.
Schedule 2B of the Building Regulation 2006 (Appendix 2)
defines minor repairs and limits the repairs a pool safety
inspector can carry out. Minor repairs can be undertaken over
the monetary value of $3,300 only if the pool safety inspector
also holds the relevant licence issued by the Queensland
Building and Construction Commission (formerly the
Queensland Building Services Authority).
The Pool Safety Council has recently finalised an investigation
relating to a pool safety inspector performing unsatisfactory
minor repairs. This is a timely reminder that when carrying
out minor repairs to a pool barrier, the work must be
performed in accordance with industry best practice, in a
professional manner and using good quality materials. Failure
to perform work in this manner is a breach of section 7 of the
Code of Conduct.
Partial inspection of a swimming pool barrier
There have been instances where pool safety inspectors have
been asked to leave a property part way through an inspection.
If this occurs and the pool safety inspector has already
identified nonconformities, a nonconformity notice should still
be issued to the pool owner.
In this instance, it is recommended that the pool safety
inspector list any nonconformities that they have identified
during their inspection and also outline that they were
requested to leave the property and that a full inspection was
If not called back to re-inspect within the reinspection period,
the pool safety inspector is then required to forward a copy of the nonconformity notice to the relevant local government. This referral mechanism will ensure that the local government is made aware of noncompliant pools in their area and will enable them to take the appropriate enforcement action.
A pool safety inspector may be engaged to consult or provide
general advice to a pool owner about their pool’s compliance
with the pool safety standard, as opposed to being engaged
to give a pool safety certificate or a nonconformity notice.
For example, a pool owner may not be selling or leasing the
property but wants to know if the pool complies with the
A pool safety inspector who is only engaged to provide advice
should consider their duty to act in the public interest. This may
involve notifying the local government of a noncompliant pool
where the circumstances pose a serious safety risk.
A pool safety inspector should take care to ensure the scope
of their engagement is always clearly documented. It is not
appropriate for a pool safety inspector to agree to provide an
advisory or consulting service (a ‘pre-inspection inspection’)
and subsequently agree to give either a pool safety certificate
or a nonconformity notice for the same pool. They should advise
the pool owner that another pool safety inspector ought to be
engaged to complete this function. By following this practice,
the pool safety inspector will avoid any allegation that they were
engaged to carry out a pool safety inspection function and failed
to give a pool safety certificate or a nonconformity notice within
the required time after the inspection, which would leave them
at risk of disciplinary action.
Pool latches that are able to be locked in the
The Australian Standard stipulates that the latching device for a
pool gate shall not be able to be:
• inadvertently adjusted during operation
• locked in the ‘open’ position, or
• adjusted without the use of tools.
The Pool Safety Council has received information that some older pool latches are able to be locked in the open position.
Please ensure that you test for this when assessing a pool gate.
Glass pool fence panels
When inspecting pool barriers with glass panels, pool safety
inspectors should be aware that as the ground (or other
foundations) expand and contract with weather conditions,
the glass panels may move out of position or be dislodged.
When inspecting, each of the joins should be inspected, and
the panel shaken, to ensure that foundation movement has not
created a situation where the panel may fall out or break.
If the panels are secure and all other sections of the barrier are
compliant, a pool safety certificate should be issued. However,
as a matter of good business practice, the pool safety inspector
may also advise pool owners to regularly check the joins in case
of any movement.
Barriers and ground clearance
When assessing gaps between the bottom of a barrier and the
finished ground level, a pool safety inspector (PSI) must ensure
that the finished ground is solid and unlikely to be disturbed by a
The Pool Safety Council (PSC) recently considered a case where
a pool safety certificate was given for a pool with gaps exceeding
100 millimetres between the bottom of the barrier and the finished
ground level, in breach of section 2.4 of Australian Standard
1926.1-2007 (AS1926.1). The aluminium barrier was located over a
bed of pebbles parallel to the pool coping. The gap exceeding 100
millimetres was located between the pebbles and the lower part
of the aluminium fencing panel. While the inspector added more
pebbles to the existing bed of pebbles to reduce the gap, this is not
considered an acceptable solution.
The purpose of section 2.4 of AS 1926.1 is to prevent a young child from squeezing under a fence barrier and gaining access to the pool area. When applying this section, inspectors should consider this intention. Section 2.4 of AS 1926.1 includes a note stating that “the surrounding area of the pool shall be stable and remain intact at all times. Loose sand is not acceptable”. This note can be applied to all loose surfaces, including leaf or garden mulch, pine bark, loose pebbles, loose soil or decorative gravel or similar moveable materials. A young child can easily remove such materials to create
a gap exceeding 100 millimetres and for this reason, they are generally not considered a stable surface that will remain intact. This nonconformity can be rectified by affixing some form of appropriate ‘hard standing material’ under the pool fence, for example concrete (mower/whipper snipper type) edge, pavers laid on concrete bed, rocks cemented firmly into place, decorative pebbles set into concrete beam. It could also be achieved by a timber sleeper, a Koppers log or timber board secured with pins, stakes or hoops that are secured to prevent removal by a child. However, depending on the configuration of the barrier, pool and surrounding structures, moveable materials may be acceptable in some instances. For example, if the moveable material is located in a narrow channel for decorative purposes it may be acceptable if the gap diagonally is less than 100 millimetres.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) signs
The Pool Safety Council (PSC) has received a number of telephone
enquiries about current Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) CPR signs. In December 2010, the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC)
amended its CPR guideline to reverse the order of giving breaths
and compressions during CPR. The current QAS CPR signs reflect
this version of the guideline.
However, the PSC continues to support the practice outlined in
section 13A of the Building Regulation 2006. The PSC believes
that Guideline 7—cardiopulmonary resuscitation, published by the
ARC in February 2006, provides guidelines specific to immersion
incidents. Newer QAS CPR signs that do not reflect Guideline 7 are
therefore not supported for immersion incidents.
Pool safety inspectors should be aware that the December 2010
changes to the CPR guidelines have not affected the standard
applied in Queensland. Inspectors should therefore check that
CPR signs reflect the giving of breaths before compressions are
Engaging a second pool safety inspector
within the reinspection period
The Building Act 1975 provides that during the reinspection period
a pool owner may only ask the pool safety inspector (PSI) who
performed the initial inspection to reinspect. This requirement
aims to prevent pool owners from ‘shopping around’ for a PSI who
may provide a more favourable assessment. Using the same PSI
also ensures that a pool owner receives consistent advice and
interpretation of the standard.
However, in some cases it may be not be possible for the initial PSI
to conduct a reinspection. When this occurs, it is not appropriate
for the PSI to nominate another inspector to reinspect the pool on
their behalf. The PSI should instead advise the pool owner to apply
in writing to the Pool Safety Council (PSC) for a change of PSI. The
PSC will assess the application and advise the pool owner and the
initial PSI of its decision.
Meaning of ‘effective height’
The term ‘effective height’ is referred to in the Pool Safety Standard.
For example, section 2.1 of Australian Standard 1926-2007 part 1
(AS1926.1) provides that ‘the effective height shall not be less than
1200 millimetres...’. The Queensland Development Code Mandatory
Part 3.4 also requires that if the barrier is less than 1800 millimetres
high and the non-climbable zone is located on the outside of a
barrier, an additional clear area must exist immediately adjacent
to the fence to maintain the effective height of the fence. The Pool
Safety Council has been asked to clarify the applicability of the term
‘effective height’ in the context of an 1800 millimetre high barrier,
where the non-climbable zone may be on the inside of the barrier.
The barrier acts as a deterrent for a young child trying to gain
access to the pool area and serves two purposes depending upon
the location and height of the barrier and the location of the nonclimable zone on the barrier.
When the non-climbable zone is located on the:
• outside of the barrier, the effective height of the barrier and the non-climbable zone act as a deterrent for a young child to climb into the pool area by being difficult to climb and, in some instances, due to the height of the barrier
• inside of the barrier, the effective height and the non-climbable zone deter a young child from wanting to jump or climb down into the pool area.
Non-climbable zone on the outside of barrier
Generally, the effective height of a barrier is the measurement
from the finished ground level to the top of the barrier. The ground
surface can often be uneven or rough and minor irregularities
should not compromise the height of a barrier.
However, where there are objects adjacent to the barrier which could compromise the barrier’s effective height (for example a deck) then the effective height of the barrier may need to be measured from the top of the object rather than the ground level. When assessing whether an object could compromise the effective height of a barrier, a pool safety inspector should consider the following two criteria:
1. Will the object carry the weight of the child?
2. Is the object a hard, stable, even surface which would allow a young child to stand on, and thereby reduce the height of, the barrier?
If the object is unable to carry the weight of a young child (approximately 25 kilograms) or is a sufficient deterrent (for
example vegetation with thorns) then the pool safety inspector can be satisfied it will not reduce the effective height of the barrier. For example, tree branches and bushes that crush easily are unlikely to reduce the effective height and the pool safety inspector will not need to assess the second criteria.
Non-climbable zone on the inside of barrier
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.
Pool safety inspectors should take a practical approach when
assessing the height of a 1800 millimetre barrier and where they
consider an object will be sufficient to reduce the height of a
barrier and reduce the deterrent element they should provide
options for compliance. For example, if a small shed is adjacent
to the fence (under the non-climbable zone) then a pool safety
inspector may suggest moving or isolating the shed from the pool
area or alternatively placing an 1800 millimetres high corral around
the shed.Pool safety inspectors should consider the following factors when
determining whether an object will reduce the deterrent element
for a young child:
• the size of the surface
• the space between the barrier and the object
• whether the surface is flat or uneven
• the drop between the top of the barrier and the top of the object
• whether the height of the barrier is a full 1800 millimetres on the outside of the enclosure (for example the ground surface on the outside if the barrier may be much higher than the ground surface on the inside, thereby comprising the other aspect of the barrier that contributes to safety).
Pool safety latches
It has come to the attention of the Pool Safety Council that some
pool gate latches have been designed to permit the gate to be
locked in the ‘open’ position. The Pool Safety Council is aware
of two different types of gate latching devices where the gate can
be locked open by opening the gate and turning the key to lock
Section 18.104.22.168 of Australian Standard 1926-2007 (part 1) states
Gates shall be fitted with a latching device that will automatically
operate on the closing of the gate and will prevent the gate from
being re-opened without being manually released.
The latching device shall not be able to be:
• inadvertently adjusted during operation
• locked in the ‘open’ position
• adjusted without the use of tools.
When in the closed position, the latching mechanism shall not be able to be released by inserting any implement in the 10 millimetre gap shown in Figure 2.6(a) in the Standard. Pool safety inspectors should be aware when testing a latching
device that there may be a need to check that the device cannot be locked in the open position.