On 1 December 2019, the Victorian Government introduced new laws to improve the safety of swimming pools and spas. The new laws make it mandatory for property owners to register their pool or spa with their local council, and have their pool fence or barrier inspected and certified as compliant.
Why do you need pool safety certification?
As part of the new pool safety laws, property owners are required to have their pool barrier inspected and certified. The inspection must be done by a registered building surveyor or inspector, or a municipal building surveyor. The fees for an inspection are set by the individual surveyor or inspector, and can vary depending on your locality. We highly recommend that you get a few quotes, so that you can compare.
Pool safety certification is mandatory by law. Plus, it will give you peace of mind so that you can enjoy your pool without worrying about the safety of your family and loved ones.
The deadlines for lodging a swimming pool certificate of compliance depends on when your pool was built:
- Pools built on or before 30 June 1994 need to lodge a certificate of compliance by 1 November 2021;
- Pools built between 1 July 1994 and 30 April 2010 need to lodge a certificate of compliance by 1 November 2022;
- Pools built between 1 May 2010 and 31 October 2020 need to lodge a certificate of compliance by 1 November 2023;
- Pools built after 1 November 2020 need to lodge a certificate of compliance within 30 days of an occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection.
If you miss the deadline for lodging the certificate of compliance, you could face an on-the-spot fine of $330 and a penalty of up to $1,652.
What does pool safety certification involve?
Pool safety certification is a process where a professional inspector checks that your pool barrier or fence complies with the applicable safety standard. Different standards apply depending on when your pool barrier was installed, but some common requirements include:
- Pool fencing must be at least 1200mm high.
- Pool fencing must not be installed close to any structures (such as garden beds), that could reduce the effective height of the barrier fence.
- Pool fencing must not have any gaps at the bottom bigger than 100mm.
- Pool fencing must be in good working condition, with no damaged or loose palings.
- Pool fencing must not have any handholds or footholds that can be used to climb into the pool area.
- Pool gates must be outward opening.
- Pool gates must be self-closing and self-latching from all positions.
Apart from legal requirements, pool inspectors may also check other safety aspects, such as trip hazards, electrical wiring or damaged decking.
The inspection can take between 30-45 minutes. If the inspector deems your barrier to be compliant with safety standards, they will give you a swimming pool certificate of compliance. This is also known as a certificate of barrier compliance.
If the inspector deems your barrier to be non-compliant, you will have up to 60 days to fix any problems. The inspector will need to come back for another inspection, to confirm that the issues have been fixed.
If you don’t fix the issues identified, the inspector will issue a certificate of non-compliance. When the council receives a certificate of non-compliance, they may issue a barrier improvement notice. If you don’t comply with the barrier improvement notice, you may be fined up to $1652.
If you need multiple inspections, you will need to pay multiple times. Therefore, it’s always better to be compliant at the first inspection. To avoid the cost of re-inspections or unnecessary upgrades, it’s a good idea to get a pre-compliance check. A pre-compliance check means that you can get expert advice on what’s really needed before you pay for the pool safety inspection and certification.
After you get the swimming pool certificate of compliance
After inspection and certification are completed, you will need to lodge the swimming pool certificate of compliance with your local council. You have up to 30 days of receiving the certificate to lodge it and pay the lodgement fee.
As part of the new laws, you are also required to have your pool barrier re-inspected and certified every 4 years. This is to make sure that safety standards continue to be met. Your local council will tell you when your reinspection and certification is due.
We recommend that you arrange for an inspection and certification as soon as possible, to make sure that you can meet the legislative deadlines. There may be a shortage of inspectors close to the deadline, since all pool owners will need certification. Apart from avoiding potential fines, pool safety certification helps to prevent drowning and other pool injuries. Unfortunately, drowning is still a leading cause of death nationally among children under five.
For professional advice about pool safety certification, or to arrange a pre-compliance consultation, contact our team today. Contact us here.