Councils improve pool inspection progress
Local governments are continuing to take action to address the number of overdue inspections of private pool safety barriers but there is still room for improvement, the Building Commissioner has reported.
WA local governments are required to inspect the safety barriers of private pools in their districts at least every four years to ensure they are compliant and continue to be effective in restricting access by young children.
Building and Energy is monitoring local authorities’ progress with these checks after an Ombudsman Western Australia report found that 8,639 private swimming pools in the State were overdue for barrier inspections in mid-2015.
The Building Commissioner’s latest progress report shows that WA local governments inspected the safety barriers of more than 47,000 private properties during 2018-19. At 30 June 2019,
there were 2,545 overdue inspections compared to 3,632 overdue at the same time last year.
The Progress report: Local government’s four yearly inspections of private swimming pool safety barriers 2018/19 also reveals that around two-thirds (67.5 per cent) of the local governments that provided data are now up to date with their pool inspections – an improvement when compared to about half (46 per cent) in 2015, as reported by the Ombudsman.
Building and Energy Acting Executive Director Saj Abdoolakhan said all private swimming pools, including spa pools, with water more than 30cm deep must have a safety barrier that complies with the law and restricts the access of young children.
“While there’s no substitute for close supervision, there is also no doubt that compliant safety barriers help prevent young children from drowning in swimming pools,” he said.
“Non-compliant barriers are known to have contributed to the drowning deaths of young children, which is why regular inspections are so important.
“The latest report shows a significant reduction in overdue inspections, but there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially for those local governments that have a significant number of overdue inspections.”
Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death for young children. Royal Life Saving Australia reports that on average each year, 15 children under the age of five drown in private swimming pools. The number of non-fatal drownings is significantly higher and can also have long-term impacts on youngsters and their families.
“Owners and occupants of properties with pools must remain vigilant and ensure they comply with all safety measures, which includes allowing access to local government inspectors when required,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.
“If you have concerns about whether your barrier complies with the rules, contact your local government in the first instance.”
The progress report is available at the Building and Energy website (via dmirs.wa.gov.au) along with useful resources including the Rules for pools and spas booklet, Rules for portable pools checklist and Thinking of installing a swimming pool or spa? guide.
Media contact: Sarah Roberts – 0466 409 828 (media inquiries only) or CPmedia@dmirs.wa.gov.au
- The Building Commissioner’s Local government’s four yearly inspections of private swimming pool safety barriers 2018/19 is available at the Building and Energy website: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/local-governments-four-yearly-inspections-private-swimming-pool-safety-barriers-20181-0
- Ombudsman Western Australia report – Investigation into ways to prevent or reduce deaths of children by drowning: http://www.ombudsman.wa.gov.au/Publications/Documents/reports/Drownings/Ombudsman-WA-Investigation-Report-Drownings-23-November-2017.pdf
- Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2018 (p.20): https://www.royallifesaving.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/23197/RLS_NDR2018_ReportLR.pdf
- The requirement for local governments to inspect private pool safety barriers is set out in the Building Regulations 2012 – section 53(1).
- While some WA rural jurisdictions are excluded from four-yearly inspections, since 2 April 2012 all new private pools in the State must still comply with safety barrier laws.
- Building and Energy is undertaking a review of pool barrier requirements, including recommendations of the Ombudsman Western Australia.