Since the introduction of pool safety laws in 1991, there has been a requirement to provide a non-climbable zone around the pool barrier. The purpose of the non-climbable zone is to prevent children climbing the barrier or using climbable objects near the pool barrier to access the pool.
The new pool safety standard requires a 900 millimetres non-climbable zone around the entire pool barrier. The non-climbable zone extends both upwards and downwards in an arc from the barrier.
The non-climbable zone is to be located on the outside for pool fences that are less than 1800 millimetres high. However, for pool fences 1800 millimetres or more in height, the non- climbable zone can be located either on the outside or on the inside of the fence. This is particularly useful for dividing fences that are also used as pool fences. In this case, if the neighbour’s side of the fence has climbable objects within the non-climbable zone, the pool fence can be raised to a height of at least 1800 millimetres and the non-climbable zone can be located on the inside of the pool fence.
Objects with a substantially horizontal surface of 10mm or more that allow a young child to gain a foot or hand hold must not be located in the non-climbable zone (NCZ). This includes climbable trees, outdoor furniture, barbeques, taps, pot plants, lattice, trellis, projections, indentations or retaining walls. Objects such as smooth tree trunks or other non-climbable vegetation are permitted in the NCZ (refer to Appendix A—Figures 2 and 3) as they are either not climbable by young children or they create an additional barrier for young children.
The new standard specifically allows bushes that are not easily climbable by young children to be located in the NCZ as they can create an additional barrier for young children. Bushes with dense, spiked, thorned, rough or otherwise irritating or hindering foliage that would deter a young child from climbing are acceptable. They are acceptable even where the bushes conceal or contain thick branches that could hold a young child’s weight provided the branches are impractical for a young child to reach or use to climb the barrier. Also, bushes or shrubs that are fragile or crush easily or are so weak that a child could not climb them are acceptable. Thick bushes that provide an additional obstacle and prevent the child from seeing the pool make that barrier more effective and are acceptable. Palm fronds that bend easily so that they will not support a child’s weight are also acceptable.
Where a bush, shrub or tree has a thick (10 millimetres or more in width and substantially horizontal) exposed branch in the NCZ it is acceptable once the substantially horizontal branch is removed. The bush shrub or tree does not need to be removed. Stumps or bushes that are cut back may be climbable and it is preferable to retain foliage that will deter young children or to remove exposed stumps. Where bushes, shrubs or tress remain inside a NCZ, owners are responsible for monitoring them and trimming any substantially horizontal branches that do become exposed so as to prevent children climbing them.
If you live in Brisbane or the Gold Coast and you have any further questions about pool safety inspections please contact us. We have experienced pool safety inspectors that can inspect your pool fence and issue pool safety certificates on the spot. If you have items within the NCZ we can offer advice on repairs to try and help keep your costs to a minimum.