Did you know your responsibilities as a pool owner have changed? Pool Safety Barriers are now regulated by Section 162 (A to E) of the Building Act 2004 and the new Building Code F9, which took effect from 1 January 2017.
The new Act requires that Council ensures that all pool barriers within its jurisdiction are compliant, and requires that Council undertake scheduled inspections every three years. Council will therefore need to inspect all pool safety barriers in this scheduled inspection programme even if they have been previously inspected and approved.
Does my pool need safety barriers?
If your pool has a minimum water depth of 400mm, it must have compliant safety barriers.
You do not need pool safety barriers if:
- The pool sits above ground with smooth vertical walls 1.2m or more high, with no permanent steps or objects that would enable a small child to climb into the pool.
- The depth of water in the pool is less than 400mm (such as a shallow paddling pool or an empty swimming pool). A responsible adult should supervise the use of paddling pools at all times.
- People are employed specifically to supervise the pool when it is in use, and the entire pool facility is locked at all other times.
What sort of barrier does my pool need?
Pool Safety Barriers must fully enclose the pool area and should prevent young children from going directly into the pool area from the house, other buildings, or other parts of the property. A boundary fence may suffice as a pool fence, providing it meets compliance requirements and there is nothing on the other side (neighbours’ side) of the fence, such as close horizontal or angled rails, a stack of firewood or trellis that a small child could use to climb over the fence.
The safety barrier
- The fence must be at least 1.2m high at every point around the entire length of the outside of the fence.
- The fence must not be able to be climbed. Any perforated material (trellis, mesh or netting) must have gaps no wider than 13mm if the fence is between 1.2m and 1.8m high, or gaps no wider than 35mm if the fence is a minimum of 1.8m and up to 3.0m high. Any horizontal or angled supports located on the outside of the fence must be at least 900mm apart, or be made non-climbable by the installation of a 60° fillet for example.
- The fence must be at least 1.2m higher than any permanent climbable object or protrusion that is within 1.2m of the fence.
- There must be no space greater than 100mm between the fence pickets or rails, or under the fence.
- Alternatively, if the fence is on a boundary and the outside (neighbours’ side) of the fence cannot be made compliant as outlined above, then so long as the fence is a minimum of 1.8m high it may still comply. It must have a 900mm clear zone on the inside of the fence (measured no more than 150mm from the top), to prevent a small child from scaling the fence internally. The fence would need to be located a minimum of 1000mm from the edge of the water in the pool, to prevent a small child jumping directly into the pool.
Gates in the barrier
- All gates must open away from the pool.
- All gates must be fitted with a self-closing and self-latching device that closes and latches the gate from a static start at any position. Any external latches must be at least 1.5m above the ground to keep them out of reach of small children.
- Any internal latch must not be accessible by reaching over or through the gate unless the hole in the gate is at least 1.2m above ground level. Any gaps in the gate that may allow access to the latch below 1.2m must be covered by a shield of aminimum least 450mm in diameter.
- There must be no object or device near the gate that could be used to hold it open.
What if my pool is right next to a building?
The wall of a building may form part of the pool safety barrier if it complies with the requirements of Clause F9 of the New Zealand Building Code.
- All doors that provide direct access to the pool or immediate pool area must be fitted with a locking device at least 1.5m from the internal floor level. They must either be self-closing and latching from a static start of 150mm or more from the closed position, or be fitted with an acceptable pool door alarm to signal any unwanted entry into the pool area.
- All windows opening into the immediate pool area, with an internal sill height of 1000mm or less, must be restricted to an opening of no more than 100mm, or be provided with shielding to the whole window, to restrict the passage of small children.
What is the ‘immediate pool area’?
The immediate pool area is the area that is directly related to the use of the pool and may include a pump shed, change rooms, decking or paving, pool furniture and a barbecue/dining area. It should not include the whole section, or rear section even if the boundary is fenced. The pool area should not be a thoroughfare, provide access to other outbuildings, or accommodate other outdoor activities such as clotheslines, vegetable gardens or children’s play equipment.
What about lockable spa pool covers?
Under the new legislation, compliant child resistant pool covers are considered a lawful pool safety barrier, so long as the pool cover can:
- restrict the entry of children when closed
- be able to withstand a reasonably foreseeable load
- be able to be readily returned to the closed position
- have signage indicating its child safety features.
However, these only apply when the top of every wall of the pool is at all points at least 760mm above the floor, and the walls of the pool inhibit climbing. There must not be any objects or protrusions within 760mm of the top of the pool which may be used to grant a small child access.