Pool Safety Standard

March 14 2006

A committee of experts in the pool safety and manufacturing industry have begun developing a Standard to help prevent young children from drowning in residential swimming pools, spas and hot tubs.

New Zealand has the highest rate of youth drowning among OECD countries and drownings among one to four year olds are most prevalent in home swimming pools, a major report found last year.

Pool owners, tenants, parents, architects, designers, pool and spa manufacturers and local authorities will be among the groups interested in the Standard, which will limit unsupervised access to residential swimming pools, spas and hot tubs by establishing layers of protection for young children against the potential for drowning.

“The Standard will provide clear guidance for the design and construction of safety barriers to pools,” says Standards development committee chair, Ian Godfrey, who is also a Senior Building Advisor at Manukau City Council.

Mr Godfrey says the Standard is sponsored by the Department of Building and Housing and Water Safety New Zealand. The committee developing the Standard comprises a cross-section of sector representatives, including: water safety organisations, child safety representatives, Plunket, pool and spa manufacturers, councils, architects, designers, BRANZ (Building Research Association NZ) Limited and the Department of Building and Housing.

"There are a number of different perspectives on home pools – some want greater flexibility to design pools and outdoor areas and others want reliable limitation of access to pools by young children. These views are not irreconcilable”, says Mr Godfrey.  “The committee represents an excellent balance and a wide range of views from across the sector”.

“We have been privileged to have a committee of experts developing the draft, who all share the same vision - to prevent drowning of young children. It would also be ideal to have a good range of public commentators contributing to the Standard,” said Ms Wessing, Senior Project Manager at Standards New Zealand.

Ms Wessing says the public comment period, expected to commence in mid May 2006, will give the public and the industry the opportunity to make suggestions on the draft Standard, which will be reviewed by the committee prior to finalising the Standard.

In developing the Standard, the committee will address the lack of clarity and other outstanding issues in the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987, which does not give clear guidance around compliance issues or how a pool beside a house can use modern safety designs that are available.  American standards and Australian standards will also guide the committee throughout the project.

Committee members develop the Standard by discussing and agreeing content and reaching a consensus.  Once the committee has agreed on the draft Standard, members of the public will be actively encouraged to submit comments during the public comment period.  The Standard is expected to be published in December 2006.

MEDIA CONTACT: Zoe Priestley
Standards New Zealand 
Phone 04 498 3986 or 021 475 945
Standards NZ: www.standards.co.nz

The Department of Building and Housing: www.dbh.govt.nz
Water Safety New Zealand: www.watersafety.org.nz