Regulators’ reminder of portable pool dangers

Building and Energy and Consumer Protection have joined forces to warn parents and retailers about the risks and rules when using and selling portable pools this summer.

Building and Energy oversees WA’s swimming pool safety barrier standards, which are enforced by local governments, while Consumer Protection regulates product safety.

On average, one child a year drowns in a portable pool in Australia and many more non-fatal incidents result in hospitalisation and long-term injuries. The most at-risk age group is under five.

Building and Energy Executive Director Saj Abdoolakhan said any private swimming pool, portable pool or spa with water more than 30cm deep must have fencing, gates and latches that comply with specific standards and are well maintained and used correctly.

“Portable pools that contain more than a ruler’s depth of water are a drowning hazard for young children, which is why they are subject to the same safety barrier requirements as built-in backyard swimming pools,” Mr Abdoolakhan said.

“Some large portable pools have recently attracted consumer and media interest for their affordability compared to built-in pools, but buyers must also factor in the cost of mandatory pool fencing.

“While there is no substitute for close adult supervision of young children around water, these barriers can be life-saving if a curious toddler is unattended near an inflatable or framed pool set up for the summer.”

Mr Abdoolakhan urged pool owners to contact Building and Energy or their local council for more information about the requirements.

“Failure to adequately fence a pool can result in a $1,000 infringement or a fine of up to $5,000 – more importantly, it could result in a tragedy,” he said.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Penny Lipscombe said retailers and suppliers have a key role in raising awareness of pool safety at the point of sale.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law, portable pools – such as plastic paddling pools, bigger wading pools, inflatable spas or high-sided pools on a frame – must have warning labels to inform the buyer about drowning risks,” Ms Lipscombe said.

"Suppliers of portable pools that fail to comply with the mandatory standards can face hefty penalties up to $1.1 million. Consumer Protection’s trader engagement officers continue to work closely with retailers to ensure the standards are upheld. So far in December, we have inspected more than 100 product lines and found one issue of non-compliance.”

Many stores are also displaying materials from the Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE campaign, which highlights four key safety messages for parents:

  • Supervise. Adults must actively watch children within arm’s reach. Don't leave children in charge.
  • Act. Be emergency-ready by learning CPR and calling triple zero (000) for help.
  • Fence. In most parts of WA, pools with water more than 30cm deep are legally required to have a compliant safety barrier. Check with your local council.
  • Empty. For pools that don’t need to be fenced, keep watch all day then pour out the water and store the pool away from children in a place where it can't refill with rain or sprinkler water.

Useful resources are available at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website (dmirs.wa.gov.au/rules-for-pools and dmirs.wa.gov.au/portable-pools), including a Rules for Pools and Spas booklet that explains the pool barrier requirements and a Rules for Portable Pools brochure with a handy checklist.

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Media contact: BEmedia@dmirs.wa.gov.au

Building and Energy / Consumer Protection
Media release
21 Dec 2020

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