In Victoria, it is now mandatory to have a safety barrier constructed around your pool or spa, and have a periodic inspection and certification of your safety barrier once every four years.
Safety barriers can take many forms, be that internal fences, boundary fences, buildings, gates, windows and in some cases doors. Safety barriers can also be constructed of many different types of materials such as wood, masonry, metal through to glass.
A common aspect to a safety barrier however is the non-climbable element, being that the safety barrier not only prevents access to a pool or spa due to minimum height requirements, but also due to the requirement that the safety barrier is not to be climbable, or that there not objects within close proximity to the safety barrier which are climbable.
Under the Australian Standards, a horizontal surface of 10mm or greater is considered a foothold or handhold, and enables climbing. That is whether that horizontal surface is a protrusion or an indentation.
As the name might suggest, non-climbable zones (NCZ) are specific areas around a pool or spa safety barrier which must not have climbable objects within them. As there are five different types of requirements which can apply to inspecting a pool or spa safety barrier based upon the construction date, these non-climbable zones vary in size (between 1200mm and 300mm) and location. However, as a general rule, all internal fences and gates have non-climbable zones in the immediate vicinity on the approach side measured from the top of the fence or gate. The approach side being the side of the fence that faces away from the pool or spa area.
In instances where your fence or gate has horizontal gaps in it greater than 10mm, such as a picket fence, an additional non-climbable zone applies on the inside (the side that faces towards your pool or spa) of your fence or gate, as climbable objects on the inside of the fence can be accessed from the approach side for climbing over the fence or gate.
Examples of climbable objects can include easily relocatable items like outdoor furniture, pot plants and pool covers through to more static items like trees, bushes, power points, garden taps and horizontal rails on fences and gates.
Solutions for dealing with climbable objects can range from simply relocating the climbable object away from the safety barrier, through to pruning climbable limbs off trees and bushes flush with the trunk to prevent climbing, or by adding shielding over the climbable object using a non-climbable material..
For example, a common issue we come across are horizontal rails like those found on paling boundary fences within non-climbable zones. These can be shielded by covering them a non-climbable material such as double palings, perspex, concrete sheet or fine wire mesh with apertures of less than 13mm. Chamfers with a minimum angle of 60 degrees are also another option for attaching to the top of horizontal rails on paling fences to prevent them from being used for climbing.
In other cases, climbable items like outdoor power points and taps can be shielded from being used for climbing by adding a cover over the top with a minimum angle of 60 degrees to prevent climbing.