Internationally, pool safety laws are incredibly strict and over the recent years we’ve seen new pool safety regulations coming into play in South Africa. What is most surprising is how few people actually know about the legislation, especially considering the strict bylaws that have come into play this year.
The SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) is updating the laws for private swimming pools due to the continued incidences of children drowning. Where before, a fence surrounding ones pool was enough, now there is a bylaw stating that simply putting up a fence is no longer sufficient. In fact, we’re now being told that pool covers are absolutely mandatory.
Part D4 of the National Building Regulations states that “any owner of a site which contains a swimming pool must ensure that access to such a swimming pool is controlled” and that failure to comply with the requirements will lead to fines or even a jail sentence. Home owners can now also be sued for negligence should someone drown in their pool. So what are the laws you need to be aware of?
According to SABS, every private swimming pool needs to be surrounded not only by a child-proof fence but must also be fitted with a safety net or cover. The regulations for the above mentioned are as follows:
All private properties with a swimming pool will require a certificate of compliance and no property may be sold without this compliance certificate.
Every private pool shall be enclosed by a fence or wall at least 1.2m high, measured from ground level, and have a smooth finish that provides no footholds. The wall or fence must be sunk at least 50cm into the ground and will not have any gaps along the length or height that are larger than 100mm. All enclosures must have a self-closing, self-latching gate which cannot be reached by a child of seven years old. The construction requirements of any fence or gate must comply with the requirements in the SANS 1390.
All private pools will require a pool net or cover in order to meet the new SABS standards. The net or cover is not allowed to be DIY installed but rather must be fitted by an “accredited responsible party”. A cover must not allow rainwater to pool for more than five minutes (another drowning risk) and must require keys, combination lock, or “special tools, devices, or inaccessible locations” to remove. If a child can unfasten the cover it will be disqualified. Larger swimming pools must have a net or cover that can carry a weight of at least 220kg – one child and two adults – to allow for rescue should anything happen. Smaller pools, less than 2.4m at its widest point, have a weight requirement of 125kg – one child and one adult.
Any property owner has the responsibility to ensure that their pool has both a fence/wall and a net/cover and “shall not allow water in an unprotected swimming pool.” Owners shall also be responsible to ensure that some sort of pole – a brush, leaf scoop, etc. – is available nearby to assist a distressed person in the water.
Hopefully this article sheds some light on the new legislation and raises the awareness of a topic which very few are clued up on. A pool cover is definitely a legal prerequisite for any home with a private pool and you’d be breaking some pretty strict laws should you not have a certificate of compliance, especially if trying to sell your property.