Backyard swimming pool safety inspections: a comparison of management approaches and compliance levels in three local government areas in NSW

Health Promot J Austr. 2006 Apr;17(1):37-42. doi: 10.1071/he06037.


Issue addressed: Since 1992, swimming pool fencing has been a legislative requirement in New South Wales (NSW), yet compliance with the NSW Swimming Pool Act is mixed. Local councils are responsible for the enforcement of the act. However, their approach to enforcement and the management of backyard swimming pool safety inspections is varied.

Methods: A random sample of backyard swimming pools was inspected in Council A and existing compliance data for pools in two other councils (B and C) were obtained. Pool owners in Council A were surveyed regarding their attitudes to pool fencing and inspections. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with council employees.

Results: Pool compliance rates across the three council areas varied. In Councils A and C, 51% and 54% of pools, respectively, were found to be non-compliant at the first inspection. Following re-inspection in Council A of 227 pools, a further 125 pools reached compliance. In Council B, 97% of the inspected pools were compliant.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence of poor backyard swimming pool safety compliance where local government inspection activity is minimal or non-existent.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Building Codes / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Drowning / prevention & control*
  • Government Regulation
  • Guideline Adherence / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • New South Wales
  • Safety*
  • Swimming Pools / legislation & jurisprudence*