Pool Safety

9 January 2006

Standards New Zealand is about to begin work on a new Standard for pool safety

Splashing about in the backyard pool is a way of life in New Zealand – especially as summer heats up and school holidays start. But it is important to remember that swimming pools, whether backyard splashfests or public facilities, need to be safely enclosed and properly constructed.

‘We’re very happy to be working with the Department of Building and Housing and Water Safety NZ on something that will contribute to such an enjoyable part of Kiwi life,’ says Lisa Tipping, GM Business Relationships at Standards. ‘The end result will be a document that gives appropriate guidance on modern pool safety requirements.’

Four people drowned in pools and spas in the year to 30 September 2005. Before the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 was passed, toddler drownings alone averaged 12 per year. Despite this, pool fencing remains a contentious area, with concerns over inconsistent requirements and difficult regulations. Among groups with an interest in
this issue are water safety organisations, child safety representatives, Plunket, spa pool and pool manufacturers, councils, architects, the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) and ACC.

It was agreed by industry representatives at a scoping session, hosted by Standards NZ in June 2005, that producing a Standard would be a good opportunity to consult with the industry and address the outstanding issues and general lack of clarity associated with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act.

A Standards committee will provide a way of moving forward via a consensus process to produce clear rules about pool fencing.

The aims of the new Standard are to:

  • Reduce the incidence of drowning, especially in under 5’s
  • Provide clarity and guidance for pool construction and maintenance
  • Provide a guidance document that can be referenced in regulations as a means of specifying the requirements for building and maintaining pools.

Work on the Standard will be jointly funded by the Department of Building and Housing and Water Safety New Zealand.

A draft copy of the Standard is planned to be available for public comment in April 2006 and the publication of the new Standard is planned for December 2006.


The Department of Building and Housing will take over responsibility for the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act in 2006. The Department is already responsible for the construction of new pools and fencing as this work is covered by the building consents process. The proposed Standard for Pool Safety will provide a means of compliance with the Building Code.


Water Safety New Zealand

Water Safety New Zealand Inc ensures that the water safety education needs of the community are met. It does so by providing several key services:

  • Public education: maximising awareness of water safety
  • Information & statistics
  • Research
  • Advice & consultancy

The involvement of Water Safety New Zealand in developing a New Zealand Standard is a logical extension of its services.