The Queensland Government’s pool safety laws have been put in place as a preventative measure to minimise child drowning incidents in public and private swimming pools. As of 1 December 2015, all pool fences and barriers must be compliant with the Queensland Government’s pool safety laws.

According to existing regulations, all property owners, including homeowners, landlords and hoteliers have the responsibility to ensure that their pool fence or barrier meets the legal requirements in terms of barrier height and strength, direct access from buildings into pool areas, gates and latching requirements, and non-climbable zones. Queensland property owners are also expected to ensure their pool fences and barriers are properly maintained.

Why pool fences and barriers fail to meet the required standards

Pool fences and barriers may fail to meet the required standards for one or more of a number of reasons, including:

Height of the fence or barrier being less than 1,200mm from ground level

Pool fences and barriers may sink into the ground over time, which could see them fail to meet the required height standard of 1,200mm. This may require the property owner to replace the fence or have it raised to meet the height standard.

No self-closing gates or self-latching latches

Property owners can remedy this by simply replacing the old hinges with self-closing hinges. It’s also a good idea to purchase a latch that can be locked with a key. Latches must be at least 1,500mm from the ground and 1,400mm from the top of the lower horizontal railings and may also be located on the inside of the fence so that it’s necessary to reach over or through the fence at a minimum height of 1,200mm. Internal latches must also be at least 150mm below the top of the gate or blocked/covered with a shield with a minimum radius of 450mm and with openings no larger than 10mm.

Gate hinges need adjusting, tightening or replacing

Failure to maintain gate hinges can result in a fine for property owners, even if the gate is self-closing. On-the-spot fines can be as high as $853.30 (the maximum penalty a court can impose is $20,113.50); given the high penalty costs, it’s worth checking if the gate hinges are working properly.

Property owners in need of a new pool barrier may consider installing an attractive glass balustrade that provides a clear and unobstructed view of the pool area from their home or outdoor spaces. This is an excellent option for parents who want to keep an eye on their children as they swim; glass balustrades also create the impression of greater space in the backyard.

Glass balustrades from Miami Stainless can be installed into a brick, concrete or wooden base using the two types of spigots available - core drilled and deck mounted clamps. These spigots meet the applicable Australian standards while their stainless steel construction ensures they can withstand the elements and ensure stability and security for many years.

Direct access from buildings

To be compliant pool areas must not be directly accessible from a building. This means no door or window should lead directly out onto the pool area with the exception of windows that are fitted with security screens or cannot be opened more than 100mm. Any pool area directly accessible from a door will need a new pool fence that meets the latest pool fencing regulations; similarly, windows providing direct access to the pool will require a security screen to be fitted.

Non-climbable zones

All climbable objects must be at least 900mm away from the outside of pool barriers less than 1,800mm high and 300mm from the inside. Climbable objects include both permanent and temporary structures, such as trees and shrubs, barbeques, chairs and tables, stairs and other objects. For fences 1,800mm or higher, such as a border fence, the 900mm non-climbable zone may be on the inside of the fence and is measurable from the top of the inside.

CPR signage

Property owners are now also required to prominently display CPR signage that is compliant with the DRSABCD Action Plan. When building a pool on a commercial or residential property, it is also necessary to display a weatherproof warning sign in a prominent location.

Ensuring compliance with Queensland’s pool fencing regulations may involve some expense, but it is important to understand that these regulations aim to reduce the number of child drowning deaths – the most common cause of fatalities in children under the age of five.

Miami Stainless is an Australian owned and operated company specialising in the supply of complete balustrade systems, shade sail fittings, wire ropes, handrails, custom post solutions, glass balustrades, tools and accessories.

Image: Property owners may consider installing an attractive glass balustrade that provides a clear and unobstructed view of the pool area from their home or outdoor spaces