The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety – Building and Energy Division (Building and Energy) has recently been made aware of some gate latch assemblies, incorporating key locks, which do not comply with the relevant Australian Standard. These types of latches are commonly used in frameless glass pool fencing and gates.
Building and Energy understands that these are imported and supplied throughout Australia by a number of companies.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission advises that the gate latch assembly (identified in the image left), which incorporates a key lock, does not comply with Australian Standard AS 1926.1 2012 Safety Barriers for Swimming Pools clause 220.127.116.11 (b). The non-complying latch assemblies are limited to only those that incorporate a key lock and are typically unbranded.
If the gate is open, turning or twisting the latch release mechanism in the striker component of the gate latch may cause the latch to remain locked in the open position. This can prevent the latch from engaging, making the pool or spa area easily accessible and posing a potential drowning risk to young children. The fault can occur whether the key is in the lock or not.
Pool barrier inspectors
Local government pool inspectors should look for these types of gate latch assemblies and check them to ensure they operate properly. This can be done by turning or twisting the latch release mechanism when the gate is open, and noting whether this causes the gate latch to not engage or to remain locked in the open position.
Where local governments identify a non-complying gate latch assembly they should advise the property owner and occupier of the issue. The owner and occupier should be requested to secure the pool gate until a replacement gate latch has been installed. Local governments should reinspect, after an appropriate period of time, to ensure the gate latch assembly has been replaced with a complying model.
Gates are a high-risk area, and a pivotal point of compliance:
A 10 year analysis of drowning in toddlers aged 0-4 years in Western Australia 2003/04 to 2012/13 (Royal Life Saving Society WA) indicates that, during the ten year investigation period, 90 percent of the young children who drowned in private swimming pools that had a barrier gained access to the pool through the gate area.
Further, the Investigation into ways to prevent or reduce deaths of children by drowning(Ombudsman WA Nov. 2017) found that problems with gate latches were the most common reason that swimming pool barriers did not comply with the Building Regulations 2012 on initial inspection.