Do's and Dont's when resolving Gaps in Barriers

Do’s and Don’ts when resolving Gaps in Barriers

Gaps between Vertical Components

A compliant pool barrier has vertical bars with spacing between the bars of less than 100mm & with a bar thickness that when squeezed will not provide an opening greater than 100mm.

Some pool barriers are simply not compliant – as you can see here the bars are too flexible; this is more commonly seen in taller barrier panels where the bars need to be installed closer together using a heavier gauge bar than what is required for a 1200mm high panel.

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If purchasing new pool barrier panels, always ensure that your installer / retailer / manufacturer guarantees their product meets or exceeds the current Australian Standard required for a swimming pool barrier.

Gaps below 1200mm High Pool Barrier on Level Ground

Here we have excessive amounts of leaf litter that have accumulated and covered the 220mm gaps below the barrier.  When scraped back, the excessive gap is revealed.  Loose materials cannot be used to reduce gaps.   Decorative stones, pebbles, fresh laidly loose soil and woodchips can also be easily scraped back, removed or dislodged and are not compliant as a method of reducing excessive gaps.

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 INCORRECT                                                                                                              CORRECT

To rectify the issue, this pool owner used lattice material 300mm high, chosen because this area of the garden retains rain water.  The material has been screwed to the lower rail of the pool barrier.

Compliant Materials suitable to fill gaps

  • Lengths of timber directly secured to the lower rail of the barrier section.
  • Timber garden edging secured to pegs or railway sleepers pegged in place.
  • Bricks, rocks or pavers bedded in a cement mortar mix so they cannot be removed or dislodged.
  • Fencing material – this includes lowering the existing barrier panel to eliminate excessive gap

Non Compliant:  Loose materials

  • Loose woodchip, leaf litter, scoria or decorative stones.
  • Loose bricks, rocks or pavers
  • Loose lengths of timber

1)  Use compliant materials to fill any gaps below the barrier.

2)  Ensure that any material used is either fixed securely to the underside of the Barrier, or is secured to firm ground using a cement mortar mix.

3) Be careful with the width of material used.  A wide material such as a rock might fit under the barrier but the top of that rock now becomes finished ground level which may well reduce effective barrier height.  Far safer to use a material that is no wider than the barrier rail, or ensure that the gap size is reduced, but not completely eliminated.

4)  If your pool barrier traverses a garden bed of decorative scoria or woodchip, then scrape back this loose material to firm ground level, measure the gap below the barrier and if excessive, lay a bed of concrete on the firm ground, and when set, replace the loose material. This way, your gap is reduced but the concrete is hidden by the decorative material.

Gaps below 1200mm high Pool Barriers where the Ground is Sloping

Are your pool barriers built on sloping ground?  Excessive gaps are likely to exist below the stepped sections of the barrier at these points. There are various materials that can be used reduce these gaps but ensure you make the right choice using the right installation method.  Try not to overfill the gap as you could be inadvertently raising the finished ground level and reducing barrier height.


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Loose Bricks cannot simply be stacked in the gap.  Not only can the bricks be easily pulled out, but they are wider than the barrier, so that finished ground level is now too high and perpendicular barrier height is still below 1200mm.

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We now have one row of bricks bedded in & cemented in place with a second row cemented in to reduce the excessive gaps at the stepped sections.  Barrier height at stepped sections has been increased with the installation of  framed Perspex and the barrier rectified using a compliant method whereby a minimum height of 1200mm has been maintained throughout the length of the barrier.

As a guide, if there is a differential in adjoining barrier panels of more than 100mm then you may require a barrier extension – we suggest framed Perspex.

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16 Responses

  1. Kevin Reichland

    Quick question, the gaps in my bars are caused by impact damage. Why is my inspector asking me to replace the entire panel

    1. Carol

      He has provided you with one option to resolve the excessive gaps. Did you know that bent bars lose tensile strength and so will likely snap under pressure. Another fix could be to install a smooth covering over the affected area. The fact is the issue requires a resolution.

  2. Sam Ashton

    I’ve actually had Council Inspector come out and told me that the gaps in my pool fencing are too big and that I should replace the fencing. Can you tell me when the requirement for a gap of 100mm was introduced as the fencing is about 40 years old and unchanged.

    1. Carol

      Sam, the gap has always been maximum 100mm. If you have gaps of 105mm or 110mm in your fencing, then it has never complied. We have no idea why your fencing is like that, maybe its not genuine pool fencing? So yes you will need to replace the fencing in order to comply.

  3. Hi — Nice website. I’ve been doing pool safety inspections and compliance repairs in Qld for nearly ten years. We find polycarbonate to be much stronger, more UV resistant, crack-proof and long-lasting than Perspex, so we always use polycarbonate for shields on fences.

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