Pool compliance becomes enforcement challenge
Real estate agents, landlords, pool safety inspectors and unfenced inflatable pools are all the focus of a pool compliance crackdown this summer swimming season.
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) has launched a campaign this month, focussing on pool safety and compliance.
QBCC Commissioner Brett Bassett said drowning still remains one of the leading causes of death for children aged under five years old, and as a community, we need to remain vigilant around pools.
“Our compliance crackdown is about helping to improve safety and minimize immersions,” Mr. Bassett said.
“One drowning fatality is one too many.
“Speaking as a father, I know how important it is to keep pool safety front of mind, especially during the warmer months when we’re spending more time in the water.”
Mr. Bassett said several key areas of compliance had been identified for this year’s pool safety campaign.
“Property transactions have been the focus of a state-wide audit by the QBCC’s pool safety unit,” Mr. Bassett said.
“This includes property sales and leases, and it puts property owners, landlords and real estate agents squarely in the firing line for enforcement action if they’re caught doing the wrong thing.
“If a real estate agent facilitates a lease at a non-shared home with a pool that doesn’t have a safety certificate, the QBCC can refer them to the Office of Fair Trading and there could be grounds for disciplinary proceedings in accordance with the Property Occupations Act 2014.
“This means that if you’re a landlord, you need to ensure your pool has a safety certificate before you start a new lease, or if you’re a tenant you need to be aware that a safety certificate is current when you sign a lease at a new place.
“Tenants are being urged to contact the QBCC if the pool doesn’t have a safety certificate when the new lease starts, as required by law, and landlords will be investigated.
“An on-the-spot fine of more than $2,000 can be issued to people who fail to obtain a safety certificate as required when they buy a home with a pool.
“Bodies corporate who fail to obtain a pool safety certificate face fines of more than $6,000.
“Local governments can also issue fines for failing to maintain compliant pool barriers.”
While local governments are charged with enforcement action for non-compliant barriers, the QBCC licenses pool safety inspectors. Most of the more than 600 pool safety inspectors continue to uphold compliance standards, however the QBCC has received a number of complaints about pool safety inspectors certifying pools incorrectly.
Mr. Bassett said this was not good enough, and pool safety inspectors faced fines and disciplinary action if these complaints were substantiated.
“Since the pool safety laws started in December 2010, the QBCC has received 551 complaints against pool safety inspectors. Of these, 308 complaints were upheld,” Mr. Bassett said.
“Since January 2017, 60 complaints have been received and 27 of these have been upheld.
“In addition to the QBCC’s disciplinary action against pool safety inspectors incorrectly issuing certificates, we have also taken an educative approach with pool safety inspectors. This includes issuing compliance information to inspectors and holding training sessions around the state.”
Other areas included in this crackdown campaign are pool fencing and gates, particularly those around inflatable pools.
“Temporary and inflatable pools continue to be a compliance concern,” Mr. Bassett said.
“The laws state that permanent and compliant fencing is required for all pools with the capacity to hold water more than 300 millimetres deep.
“This includes inflatable and temporary pools available from many retailers around the country.
“These pools are a drowning risk for children, and people who install them without the appropriate fencing, can be hit with on-the-spot fines of more than $800.
“An $800 fine will put a dampener on anyone’s summer fun – it’s just not worth the risk.”
In the same vein, Mr. Bassett highlighted the issue of people propping open pool gates.
“Gates are designed to keep young children out of pools, and this purpose is defeated when the gates are propped open,” he said.
“Local governments can issue fines of more than $500 for this offence, or for bodies corporate the fines can be over $1,500.
“I make no apologies for taking a hard stance on pool safety compliance when the lives of our children depend on it.
“Pools can be a lot of fun when safety is at the forefront of our minds.”
For more information on pool safety and compliance visit the QBCC’s website at www.qbcc.qld.gov.au.
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