Building regulator releases plans for pool safety improvements

  • Planned changes for better regulation of private swimming pool fences
  • Building and Energy’s decision paper follows an in-depth review and consultation
  • Preparation work underway including draft amendments to Building Regulations
  • Building and Energy has outlined 16 ways that the State Government intends to improve the regulatory requirements for private swimming pools and their safety barriers in WA.

    The building regulator’s decision paper follows a detailed review and consultation on issues affecting swimming pool and safety barrier control, based on recommendations in the Ombudsman Western Australia’s investigation report on drowning deaths of children.

    The planned changes include areas such as:

    • boundary barrier requirements;
    • the building permit process for pools and pool fences;
    • inspections of safety barriers for new pools;
    • the compliance process for non-compliant pool barriers;
    • inspection charges;
    • local government reporting obligations; and
    • pool inspector training.

    The full decision paper is available at the Building and Energy website: dmirs.wa.gov.au/rules-for-pools (Publications).

    Building and Energy Executive Director Saj Abdoolakhan said some decisions would require amendments to WA’s Building Regulations, while others could be achieved through guidance and collaboration with key stakeholders.

    “Tragically, drownings are a leading cause of death for young children in WA, while near-drownings can cause devastating injuries,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.

    “Most of these incidents occur in private swimming pools at people’s homes.

    “While active adult supervision is the best way to keep children safe around water, safety barriers provide a vital second line of defence, which is why they are compulsory for private swimming pools, portable pools or spas containing 30cm or more of water.

    “However, these barriers are only effective if they are correctly used, maintained and compliant with particular technical requirements.

    “The valuable and diverse input we received during our consultation has shaped the decisions we intend to implement, alongside key partners, to improve the effectiveness of swimming pool safety barriers and ultimately save lives.”

    Building and Energy is now preparing guidance on the proposed changes and coordinating the drafting of amendments to the Building Regulations.

    Training and updates will be provided to relevant stakeholders, including swimming pool owners and users, as work progresses.

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