sa.gov.au

Pool and spa safety

From 1 January 2014 amendments to the Development Regulations 2008 will require councils to inspect all new pools for compliance. Building Advisory Notice Council inspections of new swimming pools - 213.1 KB provides information explaining the new requirements.

For an alternative version of the documents on this page contact Building Policy services.

Swimming pool safety

As a swimming pool or spa owner you are responsible for safety.

Drowning is the biggest cause of accidental death for young children. Most occur in private backyard swimming pools. You can reduce the risk of accidents occurring in your swimming pool by adequately fencing your pool and ensuring young children are supervised at all times.

In a life-threatening or urgent situation phone the emergency services on 000.

Fencing

All swimming pools must have a continuous safety barrier maintained by the pool owner that restricts access by young children to the pool.

If you are a property owner and are selling a property with a pool built before July 1993 you must make sure that the safety barrier meets todays standard for new pools. Fencing must be constructed in such a way to make sure that:

  • the fence is an effective barrier to young children
  • it is permanent
  • young children can't crawl under or climb over it by using foot and hand holds
  • it is at least 1.2 metres high
  • any boundary fences used as part of the child-safety barrier are at least 1.8 metres high on the side that faces the pool, with a 900mm non-climbable zone at the top inside of the fence; a boundary barrier may be climbable on the neighbour's side.

Gates to the pool area must:

  • swing outward from the pool area
  • be self-closing from any position
  • be fitted with a latching device out of reach of small children at least 1.5m above ground level.

Hard covers on spas 

Child resistant hard covers cannot be used as safety barriers in place of a fence for above-ground spa pools because:

  • there are no current regulatory standards for spa pool covers
  • when the cover is off the spa pool there is no barrier.

Filtration

In-ground or above-ground swimming pools and spas must have a water recirculation and filtration system that complies with Australian standards. This is to reduce the risk of a young child being trapped by suction or hair entanglement.

Maintenance

As a swimming pool owner you must make sure that all required swimming pool safety features are maintained in working order at all times. Gates should never be propped open and it is very important that a gate closes and latches every time it is opened.

Supervision

Children can move quickly and do not recognise the dangers of a pool.  Close child supervision will help to reduce the number of drownings in private swimming pools.

In a life-threatening or urgent situation phone the emergency services on 000.

Resuscitation

Resuscitation skills are crucial because they save lives – make certain that someone on the property has these skills.

In a life-threatening or urgent situation phone the emergency services on 000.

Development approval for a new pool

Development approval is required for a new swimming pool, spa pool and safety fencing. Your local council will check:

  • the details and location of safety barriers
  • the safety of the pump
  • the adequacy of structural support for the swimming pool.

Fencing must be installed before a new pool is filled with water.

Above-ground or inflatable pools and 'portable' spa pools

If the pool has a filtration system you will need to:

The sides of an above-ground pool can be a suitable safety barrier if:

  • they are non-climbable and are at least 1.2 metres high, and 
  • a barrier is placed around the ladder (even if it is removable), and 
  • a barrier is placed around anything else that can be climbed on.

Installing a portable pool or spa on a deck

You should seek the advice of an engineer or from your local council if you are thinking about installing a portable pool or spa:

  • on a deck
  • on a balcony
  • on a suspended floor
  • near a retaining wall.

They are able to check that the deck or wall can safely take the weight of the pool or spa.

Legal obligations when selling a house with a swimming pool

Swimming pools built before 1 July 1993

If you are selling your property with a swimming pool, you are responsible for making sure that current safety requirements for swimming pool safety are met. This may mean you have to upgrade fencing or barriers.

If the property where a swimming pool is located is not for sale, the swimming pool can continue to comply with the old Swimming Pools Safety Act 1972 - 20.6 KB.  The Act requires a swimming pool owner to ensure that the swimming pool is enclosed by a fence, wall or building to restrict access by young children.

If the property is sold after 1 October 2008, the child-safety barriers must comply with Minister's Specification SA 76D - 298.1 KB before settlement. This means that barriers must be installed to separate the pool area from the house where ever possible.

Swimming pools built on or after 1 July 1993

Swimming pools built on or after 1 July 1993 must comply with the rules that were current when the application for construction was submitted. This includes the provisions of the Development Act 1993 and the Building Code of Australia to restrict access to the swimming pool from the house, garage, street and any adjoining properties.

Getting a pool inspected 

You don't have to get a swimming pool inspected when selling a property with an existing pool.

Some council officers, building consultants and private certifiers are able to inspect pools and can give advice about whether they are compliant with the relevant legislation.

Only council officers have legislative authority under the Development Act 1993 to enforce requirements for swimming pool safety.

Find your local council on the Local Government Association of South Australia website.


Related information

On this site

Water safety 
Swimming pools and spas - Energy efficiency

Other websites

Royal Life Saving Society 
Kidsafe 
Kids Alive

Downloads

Is your swimming pool kidsafe? - 291.7 KB
Ministers Specification SA 76D - Swimming Pool Safety - new prescribed requirements for upgrading prescribed swimming pools - May 2014 - 298.1 KB

Legislation

Development Act 1993
Swimming Pools Safety Act 1972


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Page last updated: 19th May 2014