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Swimming pool fencing laws to be reviewed

29 March 2008 Media Statement

Swimming pool fencing laws to be reviewed

Building and Construction Minister Shane Jones today announced a review of the swimming pool laws, the first since they came into effect 20 years ago.

“The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act (FoSPA) 1987 was excellent legislation delivered by a Labour Government and since it has come into effect the average number of children under six who drown in swimming pools each year has reduced by nearly two thirds, but even one death is one too many,” Mr Jones said.

In the seven years before the Act took effect 81 children drowned in these pools, an average of 11.5 per year. The average in the past seven years has been four.

Water Safety New Zealand figures show that since 1980 a total of 193 children have drowned in swimming pools, 162, or 84 percent of them, in private pools.

Mr Jones says the reduced number of drownings is also significant when taking into account a 30 percent increase in the estimated number of private swimming pools in the past decade – from about 55,600 to about 73,700.

On Monday he will release a consultation paper as part of an evaluation of the Act.

“It would appear that some of the deaths still occurring could be prevented by proper fencing. Hence the need to look at whether changes to the Act would improve compliance and enforcement,” the Minister said.

Submissions on the evaluation of the Act close on 30 June 2008.

The submissions and further research will enable the Department of Building and Housing to develop proposals for changes to the Act and issue a second consultation paper to test the workability of the proposals.

“We want to see what has been learned since the Act was introduced, to make sure it operates as effectively as possible, and that it allows flexibility to reflect modern house design, which often incorporates easy indoor/outdoor access.”

The evaluation will also seek to:

• further restrict the access of young children to swimming pools under both the Act and the Building Code
• improve uniformity in territorial authorities’ interpretation and application of the Act
• provide more certainty to pool owners and territorial authorities about their responsibilities and obligations under the Act
• Increase public awareness of pool owners’ responsibilities under the Act.

Copies of the consultation paper are available by phoning 0800 242 243 or at (insert full link)


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