As we are now well and truly into summer our backyard pools are becoming more and more tempting. As a result it is important to be aware of your legal obligations when it comes to swimming pools. These laws are in place to protect you and your loved ones. There are many rules and regulations that need to be taken into consideration for your private pool, regardless of whether or not you have children. The legislation is enforceable for all pools built after 1 August 1990 as well as certain pools built beforehand and non compliance can lead to penalties of up to $1100. Just some of the requirements you need to make sure you have in place are:

•   There must always be a suitable, child resistant barrier around your pool that restricts access from the residence. This needs to be in good repair and working condition.

•   Minimum heights for these barriers differ depending on whether you have a fence or a balustrade (glass balustrades should be made of toughened safety glass). Distances between palings also need to be taken into account.

•   Gates must be self closing, usually with a magnetic latch, and must open outwards, away from the pool.

•   There must be non-climbable zones.

•   All pool owners must display a prescribed warning notice and a resuscitation sign in a prominent position in the immediate vicinity of the swimming pool.

The Swimming Pools Amendment Act 2009 aims to enhance the safety of very young children (aged 0-4) near private swimming pools in NSW by further reducing drowning and serious immersion injuries. The NSW Government has a set a high standard of four-sided, child-resistant pool barriers to be consistently applied to all newly constructed private pools in NSW. It includes the following amendments:

•   Removal of automatic exemptions for new pools on very small (less than 230 square metres), large (2 hectares or more) and waterfront properties after a delayed commencement period of 1 July 2010

•   Requirement for local authorities to investigate complaints received about non-compliance with the Act

•   Ability for local authorities to enter a property to rectify pool barriers in situations where non-action poses a significant risk to public safety

•   Requirement for councils to serve a notice of intention to serve a direction on a pool owner to comply with the Act before serving the direction, unless a person’s safety would otherwise be at risk

•   Increase to penalty amounts for most offences under the Act from $1,100 to $5,500, including failure to provide and maintain a swimming pool barrier to standard and failure to keep gates securely closed when not in use.

Your local council may also have its own specific requirements for backyard pools, please check with your council if you are unsure about any of these additional regulations.

Additionally, it is highly recommended that you know how to resuscitate, since you may potentially save the life of a child or even an adult. Remember that vigilant adult supervision of young ones will protect them much better than any gate or warning sign and children should be taught to swim from a young age. Most importantly, “slip slop slap” and enjoy the sun and your pool in a safe and responsible manner this summer.

If you would like any further information regarding the legal requirements for backyard swimming pools contact the experienced team of lawyers here at The Quinn Group. For this, or any other legal information submit an online enquiry or call us on 1300 QUINNS (784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to book an appointment.