Home' Splash Magazine : SPLASH Aug-Sept 2017 Contents W
hen the 2012 edition of AS1926.1 was put together, the
committee determined that the height of the boundary
barrier could only be measured on the inside (the pool
side). The reasons given for this change were that the
pool owner could not control the outside of the barrier and the
certifiers and regulators could not measure the height on the outside
because they had no right to enter the neighbouring property.
The challenge now is to reverse that change or at least give pool
owners the option to use the height on either side of the barrier.
In my 25 years as a member of the
Standards Australia CS-034 Committee
on Swimming Pool Safety – during
which I have attended more than
15 meetings about AS1926.1 – not
once has anybody ever presented the
committee with evidence of a young
child (0-4 years) climbing over a barrier
that is 1800mm high.
I repeat, no evidence of a breach of an
1800mm high pool barrier has ever been
reported or confirmed regardless of its
location or characteristics.
Statistical evidence indicates a 75 per cent decline in drownings of
young children over the past 24 years. Today, at the end of this 24-year
period, approximately 94 per cent of existing pools in Australia have
boundary barriers that were installed when the minimum height
requirement was only 1200mm, with most being measured on the
outside of the barrier. In WA that would be 99 per cent.
Known statistics show that, without any doubt, the access point in
the pool barrier that results in more than 90 per cent of drownings
is the pool gate. The remainder are due to faulty barriers and the
occassional use of plastic chairs to scale the internal barrier.
The objective of the standard
Far too many participants in this debate ignore the aim, purpose
and objective of AS1926.1 that is clearly set out in the document ’s
preface and again in Clause 1.1 Scope, which is the requirement
for “barriers that will restrict the access of young children to the
There are many words that define “restrict ”: limit, keep under
control, regulate, moderate, hinder, impede, hamper, check, curb,
restrain, are just some of them.
I have checked the meanings of “restrict ” in eight dictionaries and
I cannot find the word “prevent ” in any of them. So why are so many
trying to prevent such an unlikely event?
In the history of the Australian swimming pool industry from
the 1950s to the present, there have been less than five confirmed
drowning fatalities from the scaling of a boundary barrier and it is
highly likely that none of these
barriers were 1800mm high.
In this period, as many as some
1,250,000 swimming pools have been
installed. Thus a boundary barrier
breach has led to a drowning in less
than 0.0000004 per cent of those pools.
I believe it is a reasonable
conclusion that a boundary barrier
1800mm high, regardless of its
characteristics on either side, does
and will continue to meet the
objective of the standard.
Changes to a compulsory document should only be made when it can
have a positive outcome. Instead it is now being made because a few
people think it is a good idea. They provide no credible reason. They
provide no evidence.
The best safety expert in this area was a Dr Robert Pitt who spent
more than 20 years of research and practical experimentation with pool
barriers and young children. He was the architect of the NCZ on the
internal barrier. He concluded in 2007 that as there was no evidence
of a child under five ever having scaled an 1800mm barrier of any type
and characteristic, that it was reasonable to assume that such a barrier
required no added protection beyond its height.
When a majority of the committee decided to place an optional
NCZ (5) on the inside of the boundary barrier, Dr Pitt felt it was
unnecessary but decided not to vote against it.
Dr Pitt has moved on to other areas of paediatrics since 2007.
“It is an inescapable conclusion
that the outside of a boundary
barrier is, and always will be,
the principal deterrent for the
access of young children across
a property boundary.”
By Cal Stanley
An external 1800mm
barrier is a sufficient
deterrent at the boundary
No evidence of a breach of
an 1800mm high pool barrier
has ever been reported or
confirmed, regardless of its
location or characteristics
28 SPLASH! August/September 2017
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