Industry News

At last – action on pool safety standards

December 5, 2010

It’s still in its infancy, but changes to swimming pool safety standard AS1926.3 are in motion.

Good news has finally arrived on the long running saga that is the story of revising the Australian Standard 1926.3-1993 Swimming pool safety – Water recirculation and filtration systems.

As the name suggests, this standard has not been touched since 1993 despite a series of tragic entrapment incidents.

For more than a year, SPASA NSW CEO Spiros Dassakis has been lobbying on behalf of the members for revisions of the safety standard. He put forward a proposal to Standards Australia and personally wrote to the Prime Minister and “every relevant government minister in the country”.

“Following the coroner’s findings into the death of Shannon Rankin, the ministers started to write back,” he says.

Now, after many years of demands, it looks like a review will be happening.

The standards committees CS034 and CS059 have unanimously agreed that SPASA’s proposal be “nutted out”. Importantly, this process will be funded by Standards Australia themselves, which is contrary to their more recent policy of fee-for-service.

Dassakis has expressed particular pleasure at this aspect of the process, as he says NSW members have already paid a great deal of money towards the revision, through his own time spent lobbying for change, and going through reams of paperwork and meetings to get the draft project proposal considered.

There is still more time to be spent, however, as he has to address issues referred to in the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

“Because 1926.3 is referenced in the BCA, I need to do a preliminary impact statement – getting the data on entrapment as the basis on which the standard will be changed,” he says.

This is a difficult and complex process, which he needs to complete to a tight timeline to meet the 2011 BCA deadline. Regardless of this, the standard will be changed, he says, and if it doesn’t make the 2011 BCA, it will make the 2012 BCA.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he says. “Standards are supposed to be living documents, reflecting changes in circumstances and technology, but this standard hasn’t been changed for seven years!”

One of the important aspects of the proposed revised standard will be to move away from a prescriptive approach to performance-based approach. This is an issue that has attracted considerable coverage in SPLASH! since 2006, with many experts commenting on the need for changes, including a move to a more performance-based.

"The result of these changes is that suction covers will be much safer,” says Dassakis.

“We are very proud of our technical team at SPASA NSW and the fact that the board and members all supported it, despite the time and money we needed to put into it. We also had assistance from other SPASAs, in particular Cal Stanley from Western Australia and Rob Portbury and Des Berry from Victoria.

“I believe as well as making pools safer, these changes will be of long-term benefit to the industry across Australia.”

Picture shows Richard Gedz describing the proposed changes at a recent SPASA meeting.


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