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Chalford limestone used a pool coping in a home garden project

Swimming and other water-based activities can be extremely enjoyable pastimes everyone can enjoy.

Does my pool need fencing?

And back-yard swimming pools can be great additions to any home, where families and friends can get together and splash about, keeping everyone active in the warmer months.

However, even if you aren’t using a pool, the danger of swimming pool accidents is constant. This is why pool safety is one of the key considerations when building a new pool or renovating an existing pool.

To avoid drowning and potential tragedies it is imperative, as well as being legally-required, to have a swimming pool fence installed.

A pool fence is a structural obstacle that encircles a pool so that access to the pool is limited only to adults. The main objective is to keep children from entering the pool unsupervised and therefore helping to prevent pool tragedies.

Swimming pool owners must also register their swimming pool or spa with their local Government body or council registrar. Owners who don’t register their pools or spas can be liable for on-the-spot fines or court penalties.

But having your own peace of mind is also a huge factor.

Why Pool Safety Is Critical

Between July 1st, 2002 and June 30th, 2015, 83 private swimming pool drowning deaths in children under five in New South Wales were recorded by Royal Life Saving Australia. The key findings related to appropriate supervision, pool fencing and emergency care.

Therefore, owners must make pool safety their number-one priority and comply with regulations as well as being educated on pool safety best practice.

All home pool fences should:

  • Not have gaps that are wide enough for a toddler to fit through
  • Not have any climbing footholds
  • Be at least 1.2m high, with no more than 100mm ground clearance
  • Be strong and rigid enough that a child can’t force a gap in the bars or mesh
  • Have materials and welds strong enough to withstand a heavy knock

Whose Responsibility is it to Ensure Safety Compliance?

While local Governments and councils provide the legislative frameworks to ensure a high standard of pool barrier fencing, responsibility for pool safety lies with pool owners to ensure that their pool barriers comply with the specific standard required.

For example, in NSW and Victoria, all swimming pools and spas on residential properties in with a depth greater than 30cm (300mm) are required to be surrounded by a safety barrier (e.g. a pool fence).
Property owners with pools should also ensure that compliant pool barriers are in place always and that keeping pool gates closed and ensuring there are no objects that would allow children to access the pool unattended.

Not only that, but owners also need to make sure fencing meets the required measurements. This is to stop a young child being able to squeeze under or between gaps in a fence, or being able to climb over it.

pool need fencing

Pool & Spa Fencing Requirements

If your spa pool does not have a fence around it, you must either install a fence or ensure that the spa is covered and secured by a lockable child-safe structure (such as a door, lid, grille or mesh) when the spa is not in use.

Portable pools also need to be fenced.

Maintenance of Pool Fencing

As well as meeting the standard requirements for pool fencing and safety, it is vital that pool owners maintain pool barriers and fix damaged fencing or barriers immediately.

Barriers can fail when gates are left open, fences and gates aren’t maintained and climbable objects are left against the fence.

For example, all fence bolts, screws and fasteners should be tight and in good order. Any loose bolts, screws and fasteners should be tightened or replaced immediately.

For more advice about pools, explore the pool section of our Learning Library.


Interview Transcript:

Dean Herald of Rolling Stone Landscapes: When designing a swimming pool, I think designing the fence is almost just as critical. Pool fence regulations have tightened up dramatically over the years, and I’m sure they’re only gonna tighten up even more.

Matt Leacy of Landart Landscapes: I like to start with the pool fence. Look at where that’s gonna go and how it’s gonna affect the flow from the inside of your house. Then you can design your pool location around that.

Dean: Designing the fence in the right location, to make access easy. You’re not opening and closing too many gates. And a fence should work with the pool, not work against the pool. So understand where that needs to go. Get it designed correctly, and make it work with the holistic vision of the landscape.

Matt: It doesn’t have to be the one material wrapping the pool. You can break it up and use different materials in different areas. Or break it up with planting and that way you get it to disappear.