Adequate fencing of swimming pools provides a physical barrier to young children and it has been proven to be successful because human factors such as supervision and closing doors can, and do, fail.
The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act (1987) and the new Building Code Clause F9 were introduced to enhance the safety of young children under six years of age. They have been successful in lowering the drowning statistics from almost three deaths per month in 1987, to as few as one per year in recent years. However, there is still a need for vigilance and legislation especially in regard to the numerous portable spas that are presently being sold in New Zealand. Approximately 6000 spa pools are sold annually in New Zealand with around 5000 of those being sold in the Auckland region.
Changes in Legislation
As of 1 January 2017, the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 is no longer in effect. Legislation relating to pool barriers and pool fencing is now included in the Building Act 2004. The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 created a new Building Code Clause F9 – Means of restricting access to residential pools.
The Act applies to all residential pools and spas with a maximum depth of 400mm or more. Pools that are filled or partly filled with water must have physical barriers that restrict access to the pool by unsupervised children under 5 years of age. It also means that all residential pools, including indoor swimming pools, will now require a compliant barrier as well as be inspected every three years.
If pool barriers were constructed and installed after 1987, and complied with the Schedule of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987, then they will probably still comply with the new legislation, although there are some exceptions.
The Standards NZ NZS 8500:2006 Safety barriers and fences around swimming pools, spas and hot tubs remains as a guidance document for compliance with the Act. See www.standards.co.nz for details.
Requirements for home pools under the Building Code Clause F9 – Means of restricting access to residential pools
Building Code Clause F9 – Means of restricting access to residential pools sets out requirements for restricting access to residential pools.
This clause has the requirements to prevent unsupervised access by children under five years of age to residential pools. It requires barriers around pools to restrict unsupervised access by children. Barriers can include gates and suitably constructed doors.
F9/AS1 provides the Acceptable Solution for swimming pool barriers in general. F9/AS2 provides the Acceptable Solution for covers which may be used on above ground small heated pools with a water surface area of 5m² or less, such as spa pools.
Small heated pools: Small heated pools may have a removable cover instead of a fence as long as it complies with the requirements of the Building Code including if they have sides of 760mm or more. F9/AS2 specifies the construction of covers and their robustness. Many of the covers manufactured over recent years are likely to meet the F9/AS2 specification.
Swimming pools: F9/AS1 uses most of the requirements for barriers and fences, gates and doors that were given by the Schedule to the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act. All pools with a maximum depth of 400mm or more physical barriers that restrict access to the pool by unsupervised children under 5 years of age.
The Building Act now requires residential pools to be inspected every three years by territorial authorities or independently qualified pool inspectors (IQPIs).
Independently qualified pool inspectors has further information on pool barrier inspections.
Manufacturer and retailer notices has information about notices that manufacturers and retailers must supply with pools.
* The information provided on this page is a guide only and further information should be sought from your relevant council. For the Auckland region contact Auckland Council on (09) 301 0101 or visit their website.