Swimming pool owners are being advised new and improved laws around pool fencing will take effect from January 1.
The aim of the changes to the legislation is to better protect children from drowning in swimming pools while also making the requirements more practical and enforceable.
The Government has repealed the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987, and from January 1 the rules will be part of the Building Act 2004. But owners' responsibility for safety has not been relaxed, as some may believe.
Under the new and improved laws, all pools must still have a complying barrier restricts access to the pool for children five years and under. If your pool barrier complied with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act, it should continue to comply with the Building Act.
What you need to know about the changes:
By law your pool barrier will be checked every three years and the inspection will be chargeable.
This will not apply to small heated pools that meet all of the exemption criteria which includes a maximum surface area of 5m2, a height to top of the pool of 760mm with un-climbable sides, and a complying lockable lid.
However, the details around what's required for compliance are not yet available. Consultation has been carried out by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the regulations are due to be published in the New Year.
It is also the owners' responsibility to make sure fences, self-closing gates and latches are maintained and working correctly.
Blow up pools do not need a fence if the maximum water level is less than 40cm, but children should be watched closely at all times and the pool emptied after use.
Doors from the inside of a building opening into the pool area must either self-close or have an alarm to comply with the new rules. As mentioned, details around what is required for compliance are not yet available.
The requirement for boundary fences has not changed but the MBIE has proposed other options for higher fences although these are not yet confirmed. Best practice is to isolate and fence the pool independently.
Exemptions are no longer available, but under the Building Act there is provision to apply for a waiver or modification.
Indoor pools are also no longer exempt and the pool owner must now register with councils and have compliant means of preventing access to the pool for children aged five years and under.
For more information on the new pool safety legislation visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.