With spring bringing better weather to Victoria many people will be installing and opening spas and swimming pools ready for the hot summer months.  The Building Commission advises current owners and those thinking of installing pools and spas to ensure that they are safe, through adherence to strict safety regulations.  

Building Commissioner, Tony Arnel, advises that “Summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors with your family, but there have been tragic incidents in the past where young children have lost their lives due to improperly secured or maintained swimming pool and spa areas.”  

In order to ensure that pools and spas are safe for summer Tony Arnel says to “Take the time to read the Building Commissions’ Swimming Pool and Spa Safety Barriers brochure” and act on its contents.  

When installing a pool or spa it is essential to obtain a permit to build both the pool and barrier. And a Registered Building Practitioner must be used if the total value of works and materials exceed $5,000.  

Regulations cover plastic and nylon above ground pools as well as traditional in-ground pools and heavy penalties apply where pool and spa areas fail to comply.  Failure to comply with regulations can incur a fine of over $5,000.  

Australian standards require all new swimming pools in Victoria to have four-sided pool fencing.  All pool safety barriers and any self latching gates must be in good working order and be maintained to offer a high standard of safety.  

With effective pool fencing in place, which is mandatory for all swimming pools and spas with a depth greater than 30cm, regardless of pool installation date, it is the responsibility of parents and adults to ensure the safety of swimming children.  Children should never be left unsupervised near water.  

Drowning is currently the single most common cause of preventable death for under-fives in Victoria.  Roughly four times as many of deaths by drowning occur in unfenced pools compared to those that are fenced.

Important regulations to be aware of when installing pool and spa barriers include:  

  • the barrier must be completed within six months of work commencing on the swimming pool or spa;
  • gates and doors to swimming pools and spas must always be latched and never propped open;
  • direct access to the pool area via external pools from dwellings is not permitted;
  • fencing must not be installed near to trees or other objects that children could climb to gain access to the spa or pool; and
  • indoor swimming pools and spas must have self –closing, self-latching gates that open away from the pool area.
Look out for the Swimming pool and spa safety barriers brochure or visit www.buildingcommission.com.au for more information.