Rules of Pool Barrier Inspection

Swimming pool tragedies involving young children are all too common and far too heartbreaking. To help prevent these tragedies, the International Residential Code (IRC) outlines guidelines for pool barriers that can be used to protect small children from drowning in unsupervised pools or hot tubs. It’s important for homeowners and property managers to know the rules of pool barrier inspection, but they also need to understand why those rules matter.

The primary purpose of a pool or spa fence is to keep children from getting OVER, UNDER, and THROUGH the pool barrier. This includes preventing young children from using objects or gaps to climb over the barrier, and even climbing the wall of their own home to gain access to a pool or spa.

This can be done by ensuring that there are no holes in the barrier, that there is not any space where a child could crawl under the fence, and that there is not any way for a child to get over the gate or through the gap between a house and the pool fence.

In addition to the general requirements in the IRC, there are specific stipulations about pool fencing in Queensland. From 2010, the state has enacted legislation that requires all pool owners to have their pool fences inspected annually by an accredited inspector and to receive a certificate of compliance for their swimming pool. This legislation is in place to ensure that all swimming pools and their barriers comply with the Australian standard for swimming pool fencing, AS 1926.1.

If your pool is surrounded by a fence, the pool barrier inspection must be at least 1200 mm high and there should be no gaps in the barrier greater than 100 mm. Also, there should be no climbable objects within 900 mm of the barrier or gate. Lastly, all gates should swing away from the pool and be equipped with a lock that is child resistant.

The 900 mm distance is based on the head-breadth and chest depth of a young child, which makes it impossible for them to jump over or around a fence with this gap. Also, the spacing between vertical fence members must be less than 100 mm to inhibit children from using them as handholds or footholds to climb over the barrier.

Pedestrian gates are the gates that people use to enter or exit the pool. Typically, these gates open out from the inside of the pool area and they should be self-closing and self-latching, meaning that pushing on them with force in an attempt to escape or enter the pool will actually close the gate and may actually engage the latch. This can be achieved by having the gates hinges mounted on a sliding track and fitted with a locking mechanism that can be operated from inside the house. It is also important that the gate can only be opened once it has swung fully open and that it cannot be propped open with furniture, tools or other items.