Queensland's New Pool Safety Laws

December 2010


The Queensland Parliament has passed stage two of its tough new pool safety laws that came into effect on 1st December 2010. These laws amongst other things require pool safety inspections and compliance certificates for all privately owned swimming pools in Queensland within the next five years unless the property is sold or leased first.

All the 300 plus existing licensed building certifiers in Queensland are be automatically licensed for one year as pool safety inspectors. In addition, anyone who successfully completes an approved swimming pool safety inspector’s course will be eligible to apply to the Pool Safety Council for a licence to operate as a pool safety inspector.

In support of this new regime the Building Amendment Regulation (No.4) 2010 has been passed that prescribes mandatory professional indemnity insurance for pool safety inspectors. It is disappointing to see the professional indemnity insurance limit of indemnity required by the regulation is only $1,000,000, equal to the minimum amount prescribed for building certifiers. We have previously questioned whether a $1,000,000 limit is adequate for a building certifier and continue to strongly recommend to our building surveyor and pool inspector clients they seriously consider purchasing higher limits of indemnity. The greatest liability exposure for a pool safety inspector would arise if a child suffered a serious immersion injury and required lifetime care. A claim in such circumstances may be deferred until the child turned 18 and could very easily run into millions of dollars.

Professional indemnity insurance for pool safety inspectors is complicated. The Building and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2010 allows for pool safety inspectors to undertake prescribed "minor repairs" such as minor fence repairs and to provide CPR signs as well as for such work to be self certified. This fundamental conflict of interest means that many "off the shelf" professional indemnity policies are not appropriate for pool safety inspectors that also undertake minor repairs. It is common practice for professional indemnity policies to contain outright exclusions in relation to claims "arising directly or indirectly from goods sold, supplied or installed by the Insured". If a policy has this type of exclusion it means that the claim may not be covered.

For the above reasons we recommend that building surveyors maintain their role as professional consultants and if possible avoid engaging in the sale, supply or installation of goods. Policies without these onerous "goods" exclusions are available but may require our specific negotiation to ensure the policy is appropriate for a particular business.

Pool safety (barrier) inspections have to date been an inherent part of the building approval process so the majority of our building surveyors clients will not need to make changes to their policy in order to undertake pool safety inspections. However you are obliged to notify your insurer of any material change to the nature of the risk which may include undertaking new services. Therefore to avoid any potential issues with your insurer and to comply with your disclosure obligations we recommend that you notify your broker if you are to undertake pool safety inspections and especially if you plan to also undertake minor repairs or to supply CPR signs.

In recent months we have come across one Queensland building surveyor whose insurer had imposed an exclusion in relation to swimming pool related activities and another insurer that is offering policies for pool safety inspectors with an onerous restriction that limits bodily injury cover to $500,000. Needless to say such policies are not appropriate for any building surveyor or pool safety inspector and do not comply with the relevant regulation for either profession. We strongly recommend that you read your policy document in detail and raise any issues of concern with your broker.

Further information can be found at www.poolfencing.qld.gov.au

This article is intended to provide general information rather than specific advice and BRIC does not accept any liability for loss or damage arising from reliance upon the information provided. If you require advice specific to your circumstances please contact us.

 
 

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