Councils urged to stay buoyant on pool barrier inspections

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
  • Local governments must inspect private pool safety barriers at least every four years
  • 1.5% of WA pools were overdue for inspection at 30 June 2022
  • 62% of councils were up to date with inspections, an improvement from last year
  • WA local governments have shown overall improvement in inspecting private pool safety barriers, but the State’s building regulator says progress must continue to help protect young children from drowning risks.

    Building and Energy monitors the progress of local authorities’ pool inspections after an Ombudsman report found more than 8,600 private swimming pools in WA were overdue for barrier inspections in mid-2015.

    Under WA laws, all private swimming pools, spas and portable pools with water more than 30cm deep must have a safety barrier that complies with the law and restricts the access of young children.

    WA local governments are required to carry out compliance inspections of the safety barriers of private pools in their districts. If a period of four years lapses between checks, the pool is considered overdue for inspection.

    Building and Energy’s latest report shows that at 30 June 2022, there were 2,571 overdue inspections across WA. As a percentage, 1.5 per cent of pools were overdue for inspection – an improvement from the last two reporting periods (both 1.6 per cent) and the 2017-18 report (2.3 per cent). A 2019-20 progress report was not published due to the impact of COVID-19.

    The report notes that WA local governments inspected the pool safety barriers at almost 48,000 private properties during 2021-22.

    Nine local authorities, all in regional WA, did not provide their inspection information.

    Just under two-thirds (62 per cent) of the authorities that did provide data were up to date with their pool inspections at 30 June 2022. This is an improvement compared to 57 per cent in last year’s Building and Energy report and 46 per cent in 2015, as reported by the Ombudsman.

    Excluding local governments with fewer than 10 private pools in their jurisdiction, the highest percentages of overdue inspections in WA were in:

    Local government

    Overdue for inspection as at 30 June 2022

    Percentage of pools

    Number of pools











    East Pilbara







    South Perth















    Reasons for overdue inspections included not being able to access properties, staff resourcing, COVID-19, bushfires and the ongoing impact of Cyclone Seroja.

    Building and Energy Executive Director Saj Abdoolakhan acknowledged the important work carried out by local government pool barrier inspectors.

    “Tragically, private swimming pool drownings remain a leading cause of death for children under five in Australia, along with an even higher number of non-fatal incidents that can have catastrophic long-term impacts,” he said.

    “While there is no substitute for close, active, adult supervision of young children around water, compliant safety barriers undoubtedly help prevent deaths and serious injury.

    “Our report shows a low percentage of overdue inspections, but there is still room for improvement, particularly for local governments with a significant number of overdue inspections and for those that have not provided data.

    “Owners and occupants of properties must also accommodate these inspections and regularly check their own pool fences and gates, which should never be propped open or have climbable objects nearby.”

    The Progress Report: Local governments’ periodic inspections of private swimming pool safety barriers 2021/22 is available at the Building and Energy website (, along with useful guides and resources.

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