Fences on the rise

DESPITE relatively unclear direction from the State Government regarding future inspection requirements and local councils being thrown in to the deep end with the new state government pool regulations, letters to known pool owners have been distributed within the Tumut Shire informing them about the proposed new legislation.

Local fencing business operator Peter Buckmaster from Riverina Fence, Shed and Steel Supplies, said already his company was an increased number of inquires from pool owners seeking to comply with the recently introduced legislation.

“We have already done around six jobs for people making sure their fences comply with the changes,” Mr Buckmaster said. “The modifications have been to pool fences that are also boundary fences. The legislation has changed from 1.5m to 1.8m high. One fence we pulled out entirely and built a new one, but it is also an option that you can put an extension on top on the original fence.”

Pool owners have until October 29 to register their pool, with council planning to have a developed an inspection program before the October deadline.

So far the legislation has not comprehensively covered how and when inspections will occur and it appears that local councils will bear the brunt of enforcing the legislation requirements.

Mr Buckmaster said that the pressure is on backyard pool owners to make sure their pools are safe in a bid to lower drowning fatalities.

Swimming pools continue to account for the largest number of drowning deaths in children aged 0-4 years, with eight drowning deaths in 2011/12.

COE of the Royal Lifesaving Society, Rob Bradley said it was positive to see that there’s been a reduction in overall drowning deaths in 0-4 year olds from the five year average of 32 to 21 last year.

“We hope that trend continues,” Mr Bradley said. “In this age group we are on track to achieve a 50% reduction by 2020 if parents and carers of young children remain vigilant and employ strategies such as active supervision.

“The decline in drowning deaths of children aged under five over the past four years can be partially attributed to increased parental awareness of the importance of child supervision, restricting a child’s access to water, the role of water awareness and learning CPR.

“However, backyard swimming pools have been the real focus of recent prevention efforts.”

The actual number of swimming pools known to council is not clear but council are hoping for people to register regardless of the status of their pools.

“Pools that complied when given approval at the time of installation don’t have to change, but it is recommended they add the higher boundary fence,” council’s Paul Mullins said. “If the pool was not approved when installed, get in now and register it and make sure it complies with safety legislation.”

Mr Buckmaster is aware that some people are sitting tight and waiting to see what happens further down the line, but is more than willing to help those who wish to make changes or need fencing advice.

“The changes are about trying to stop drownings,” Mr Buckmaster said. “The pressure is on for people to check their pools and comply. We can tailor fences to the job as long as they meet the legal requirements.”

It is predicted that blow up pools will become a target of future inspections as well, with many not adhering the strict fencing legislation.

Penalties will come into play after October 29 for those owners of pools deeper than 300mm who do not register their pools.

For more information please head to www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au