New pool safety laws have come into effect in Queensland as of December 2010.

Amendments to these existing laws were developed in two stages as follows:

STAGE 1

  • commenced December 2009;
  • introduced resuscitation (CPR) signage standards;
  • introduced guidelines regarding temporary pool fencing;
  • introduced mandatory final inspections for new pools;
  • introduced new swimming pool standards;
  • applied to new residential outdoor swimming pools only.

STAGE 2

  • expected to come into effect in December 2010;
  • pool safety standard for all pools irrespective of age replaces the 11 existing standards;
  • all swimming pools to be included in a pool register;
  • introduces laws for portable pools and spas deeper than 300 millimetres;
  • pool safety certificated to be obtained from a licensed pool safety inspector;
  • wider application included indoor pools;
  • Stage 2 will apply to existing swimming pools.

What steps must owners now take?

Owners of pools which are captured by these amendments must now ensure their pool (or spa) comply with these new safety standards and that all existing fences/barriers to the pool are maintained to an acceptable standard. Owners are reminded that failure to now take these required steps may attract a $16,500 fine.

If an owner decides to list their property for sale that includes a pool, they must ensure a purchaser is handed a pool safety certificate prior to settlement.

Definition of a pool owner

Under the new laws, a “pool owner” is defined as the owner of residential land upon which a swimming pool is located.

Interestingly, the definition does not seem to include a mortgagee in possession. However, due to the obvious dangers and associated penalties for breaching these new laws it would be prudent to immediately identify, assess, and report any inadequate pool fencing to the mortgagee/seller at the possession stage to ensure that any problems are resolved quickly.

What you must do

Pool safety certificates

A qualified pool safety inspector must, within two business days after inspection, provide a pool safety certificate that the swimming pool complies with the current pool safety standards.

Non-conformity notice

An inspector may issue a non-conformity notice which details any work required to ensure the pool complies. This notice must also state that the pool owner may ask the inspector to attend in 3 months time to reinspect the pool.

If repair works have been completed

If a re-inspection by a pool safety inspector confirms repair works have been attended to, the inspector will issue a pool safety certificate.

Report to local government

If the inspector is not requested to re-inspect the pool within 3 months, the pool inspector must notify the local government of the owner’s failure to comply with the non-conformity notice and provide a copy of the non-conformity notice to the local government.

Industry estimates indicate fence upgrades will cost in the range of $400 to $1,200 depending on the nature and extent of non-compliance with the new standards.

Mandatory pool safety inspections are expected to cost between $90 and $130.

Applying for an exemption

An owner can apply to the local government to be exempted from complying with part of a pool safety standard if an owner can show that compliance is not practicable. Exemptions are granted on a case by case basis.

The local government may consider the following when assessing an exemption application:

  • whether compliance may require an owner to move or demolish part of a building, change the location or size of the pool, remove vegetation protected from removal by other legislation;
  • the cost of barriers required; and
  • any other factors the local government considers relevant.

Notifying DIP and the purchaser

If a pool safety certificate is not in effect, then a selling owner must give notice to a purchaser and the Chief Executive of the Department of Infrastructure & Planning (DIP) that the contract is to be settled without a pool safety certificate in place and that the pool may not comply with the pool safety standard. Failure to do either of the above can result in penalties of up to $16,500.

If notice has been given that the contract will be settled without a pool safety certificate in place, the purchaser must, within 90 days from settlement, have an inspection undertaken and a pool safety certificate issued for the pool.

Where the property is located in a Community Titles/Strata scheme, the body corporate will be required to have an inspection undertaken and provide a pool safety certificate within 90 days from the date of settlement.

What next?

The forms are currently being finalised by DIP. We can provide you with sample forms once they are available.