As a result of the considerable number of children who have drowned in South Africa, several by-laws and building regulations have been enforced to limit these tragic accidents.
In terms of the National Building Regulations, every owner of a swimming pool is required to control strict access to that swimming pool, failing which the owner can be guilty of an offence and liable for negligence should a drowning incident occur.
National Building Regulations further states that an owner shall be deemed to have satisfied the requirements of control where the access to the pool complies with South African National Standards as published in the South African Bureau of Standards. These standards being:
- A wall or fence must be provided by the owner of a site that contains a swimming pool or a swimming bath.
- A wall or fence shall be provided in any interconnected complex which contains a swimming pool or swimming bath.
- Such wall or fence and any such gate therein shall be not less than 1.2 metres high, measured from the ground level, and shall not contain any opening that will permit the passage of a 100mm diameter ball.
- The constructional requirements of any steel fence or gate must comply with the requirements in SANS 1390.
Ultimately a local authority determines whether or not the access is adequately controlled. Depending on where your property is situated, make sure to ascertain what the local requirements are. For example, the Building Development Management of the City of Cape Town states that one requires building plan approval for a swimming pool, failing which no occupancy certificate will be issued by the Municipality.
It is therefore vital that pool owners ensure that adequate safety measures are in place and are adhered to i.e. that the gate latches work and that the pool cover is secured, etc. Negligence can still occur where reasonable efforts have not been taken to ensure that the safety measures are effective.
For more information, please contact: Annetjie Coetsee