Ever since 1 December 2019 when new laws came into effect regarding swimming pool safety, the state of Victoria now requires all owners of swimming pools to be properly registered with their local council. They also have to comply with a safety inspection that checks to ensure that the pool has appropriate safety barriers installed. These laws apply to any pool that holds water greater than 30cm (3000mm) in depth, and includes:
Above ground pools
Some relocatable pools
Therefore, there’s no getting around it, you have to get your pool safety inspection completed in Melbourne if you own one of these pools, as a great number of people do. Below is a guide to what you have to do to be compliant when the time for inspection comes.
What Date was Your Pool Constructed?
The date that your pool was constructed/installed is very relevant to the requirements that you have to meet. Below are some useful links to Victorian Building Authority (VBA) checklists that will help you at least know what kind of compliance you need to meet.
1. Checklist for pools and spas installed before 8 April 1991
2. Checklist for pools and spas installed between 8 April 1991 and 30 April 2010
3. Checklist for pools and spas installed from May 1 2010
Who Carries Out Melbourne Pool Inspections?
Registration with the council is the first step, after which your inspection will be scheduled. There are strict rules on who can and can’t administer the inspections in line with VBA requirements. A pool inspection in Melbourne can only be carried out by a registered building surveyor, a registered building inspector or a municipal building surveyor.
The key to passing the inspection is having compliant barriers installed around the pool. Besides that, they also look at gates and hardware, vegetation in proximity to the pool, and whether or not there are any detectable construction issues within the pool or spa.
Why Are the Inspections Being Carried Out?
The driving force behind the new regulations is that of the alarming statistics that showed 27 fatal drownings in spas and pools between 2000 and 2019 when the new laws came into effect. The vast majority of these deaths were attributed to a lack of a safety barrier or at least the lack of an effective safety barrier.
What are the Penalties for Non-Compliant Barriers?
If when the period of enforcement begins (following deadlines - see below) your pool barriers are not compliant with the new standards, then you will face a fine of up to AU$385.10 initially, which you have to pay within 28 days. If you fail to pay the fine on time, then the result is an on-the-spot penalty of AU$300 plus another fine of up to $1650. There have been worse cases, with one resident already having been fined AU$30,000 in total.
What Happens After the Inspection?
Your licensed and recognized pool fence inspector will complete the inspection in full alignment with state requirements. If your pool and its fences/barriers are in compliance with those requirements, then your inspector will immediately issue you with a pool/spa compliance certificate. You can then take this compliance certificate and lodge it with your local council. You have to do that before the deadlines as listed on the VBA guidelines page.
If after your inspection you are not compliant at the point of inspection, you will have to act on the guidance issued by the inspectors in their report. The detailed report should say exactly what to do to rectify the barriers. Once fixed, the inspector can return and carry out another inspection.