Swimming pools (General)

1. Overview

In NSW, swimming pool is legally defined as an excavation, structure or vessel:

(a)  that is capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300 millimetres, and

(b)  that is solely or principally used, or that is designed, manufactured or adapted to be solely or principally used, for the purpose of swimming, wading, paddling or any other human aquatic activity,

and includes a spa pool, but does not include a spa bath, anything that is situated within a bathroom or anything declared by the regulations not to be a swimming pool for the purposes of this Act.

2. Legislation

The NSW Swimming Pool Act 1992 and its regulation are the key pieces of legislation for swimming pools in NSW.

Both of these pieces of legislation are freely available for viewing via the NSW Legislation website.

The Act and Regulation generally require the pool owner to:

  1. Register the pool, and
  2. Restrict access to the pool, and
  3. Put up and maintain a sign in the pool area.

If you want to view the relevant Australian Standards, they available to view on request at Council’s Administration Centre on Blende Street.

Alternatively, you can purchase your own copy of the Standard from the SAI Global InfoStore.

The National Construction Code is freely available from the Australian Building Codes Board website.

3. Registration

All swimming pools in NSW must be registered online at www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au.

Self-registration via the register website is free.

Alternatively, owners can request Council register the pool on their behalf. A $10 administration fee is applicable if you ask Council to register your pool on your behalf.

If you want to check if a pool is registered, use the ‘lookup pool’ function on the register website.

Failure to register a pool is an offence under the Act and penalties apply.

Visit the NSW Swimming Pool Register

4. Pool Fencing

Ensuring your pool fence complies with all relevant safety regulations is the responsibility of every pool owner, and proper maintenance of pool fences, coupled with diligent supervision, will drastically reduce the number of children drowning in NSW.

Further general information on the requirements for pool fences is available from the NSW Fair Trading WebsiteSutherland Shire Council's website also contains extensive information on the requirements for swimming pool barriers.

 

The NSW Government has made self-assessment checklists available for pool owners via the online pool register.

5. CPR and Signage

It is strongly recommended that people who live at a premises with a swimming pool know how to administer Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. CPR courses are available locally and a refresher course should be undertaken annually.

All pools must display a CPR sign near the pool, but these signs are designed to remind you of training already received.

Swimming pool CPR signs must contain a simple flow chart that contains details of resuscitation techniques.

These flow charts may be (and usually are) the flow chart contained in the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Guideline published by the Australian Resuscitation Council, which can be downloaded as a pdf by clicking here(PDF, 296KB) .

Signs published by NSW Royal Lifesaving Australia are available for purchase from Council’s Administrative Centre at 240 Blende Street.

6. What about Inflatable/Portable Pools?

Inflatable or portable pools that are capable of being filled with 300mm of water or more require a pool fence, signage and registration- all the same requirements that apply to any other pool.

Even if a pool is only filled with less than 300mm of water, the requirements of the Act apply if it could hold more than 300mm.

Inflatable pools are a cheap and inexpensive option and are becoming more popular because of their easy set-up and affordability. Because of this, owners often are not as diligent with pool safety as they may be with larger, more expensive pools. Young children have drowned in small pools.

Pools that cannot hold more than 300mm of water should be safely packed away when not in use, and kept under direct, active adult supervision whenever they are out of storage.

If you are unsure if a pool needs fencing, contact council for advice.

If you are concerned about an unfenced swimming pool of any size, write, email or phone Council with the premises address and we will investigate.

7. Swimming Pool Inspections

Generally, there are 3 reasons Council will inspect a swimming pool under the Swimming Pools Act 1992:

  1. The owner(s) have requested an inspection; or
  2. The pool is due for inspection under Council’s Swimming Pool Inspection Program; or
  3. The pool is the subject of a complaint alleging a violation of the Act.

Owners of premises that have a swimming pool can request Council inspect their pool under the Act.

Council only charges for the first and second inspection in relation to the same Certificate of Compliance (as per the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008). No inspection fees are applicable for third or subsequent inspections if they are necessary.

Inspection fees are not charged where the inspection occurs as a result of a complaint.

Before attending a property to carry out an inspection under its program, Council will usually write to the owners of the premises to give them adequate notice of the impending inspection and to arrange a mutually agreeable time for the inspection to occur.

8. Certificates of Compliance

In NSW, only Councils and Accredited Certifiers can issue certificates of compliance under the Swimming Pools Act 1992.

Certificates are valid for 3 years, after which time they expire. Certificates also expire if a direction (order) is issued in relation to the swimming pool.

Before a Certificate of Compliance can be issued, specific criteria must be met:

  1. The swimming pool must be registered; and
  2. The swimming pool must comply with Part 2 of the Act (this is the part that deals with signage and fencing/barrier requirements); and
  3. Council or the accredited certifier must have inspected the swimming pool (either under a Council inspection program, or at the request of the owner).

If all these conditions are met, a Certificate of Compliance can be issued.

Council may refuse to issue a Certificate of Compliance if a payment for an inspection remains outstanding.

All Certificates of Compliance are issued and accessible via the NSW Swimming Pool Register.

9. Exemptions

Under Section 22 of the Swimming Pools Act 1992, Councils may grant exemptions in particular cases, where certain circumstances exist.

Circumstances where an exemption from requirements of the Act may be considered are when:

  • It is impracticable or unreasonable (because of the physical nature of the premises, or because of the design or construction of the swimming pool) for the swimming pool to comply with the requirements.
  • It is impracticable or unreasonable for the swimming pool to comply with the requirements because an adult occupier of the premises in or on which a swimming pool is situated would (because of a physical disability or impairment of the occupier) be significantly impeded in gaining access to the swimming pool if the requirements were complied with.
  • Alternative provision, no less effective than the requirements, exists for restricting access to the swimming pool.

 Applications for exemption under Section 22 can be made to Council and must be accompanied by the lodgement fee.