Updated March, 2020

Compliant locks and latches, the pool barrier, CPR sign and NCZ non-climbable zone stand as the ultimate defences against children drownings around the pool. Armed with a tape measure, we all can join the fight for pool safety. And it starts with understanding The NCZ Non-Climbable Zone.


Why Is The NCZ Non-Climbable Zone Important?

Drowning remains one of the leading causes of unintentional death for Australian children. Statistics from Australia’s National Drowning Report by the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia shows the top locations for children drownings 0-4 were in swimming pools and bathtubs and spa baths.

The intention of the NCZ non-climbable zone was to set rules and regulations in place preventing children climbing the barrier or using climbable objects near the pool barrier to access the pool. And in the strict arena of pool safety where rules and regulations are detailed and precise, using a logical approach where possible is always an excellent start to pool safety.


What Is The NCZ Non-Climbable Zone?

The NCZ non-climbable zone includes the areas around the pool, fence and barrier where there can’t be any objects to aid as an act to climb.

A compliant NCZ non-climbable zone successfully keeps children from accessing the pool area.

When the Swimming Pool Act of 1992 was introduced, the NCZ non-climbable Zone around the pool barrier was born (incidentally, right amongst Sir Mix-A-Lot and Boyz II Men top hits).

The NSW Swimming Pools Regulation 2018 were upgraded; the previous changes being the NSW Swimming Pools Regulation 2008. The 2018 Regulation redefined pool safety, by addressing

  • design, construction, installation and maintenance of child-resistant barriers
  • restricting access to pools for pool safety
  • warning signs near swimming pools
  • pool inspections
  • certificate and non-certificate of compliance, and
  • pool inspector qualifications


How The NCZ Non-Climbable Zone Works

The pool safety standard requires a 900 millimetre NCZ non-climbable zone around the entire pool barrier.

The NCZ non-climbable zone extends both outwards, upwards and downwards in an arc from the top of barrier.

300 millimetre inside the pool area should be kept free from any potential footholds or handholds

Any horizontal climbable bars on your pool barrier must be spaced at least 900 millimetre apart. 

For pool barriers 1800 millimetres or more in height, the NCZ non-climbable zone is located from the inside of the fence.

For pool fences 1200 millimetres or more in height, the non- climbable zone is located on the outside of the fence.

This information is particularly useful for fences also used as pool barriers.


Objects Within The NCZ Non-Climbable Zone

If the pool area has climbable objects within the NCZ non-climbable zone, there are two solutions to correct this.

  1. Remove it, or
  2. Adjust and raise the barriers to 1800 millimetres above the object

If an object within the NCZ non-climbable zone is seen to aid as an act for climbing, it’s not meant to be there. Objects with a horizontal surface of 10mm or more are seen to allow a young child to gain a foot or hand hold and must not be located within the NCZ non-climbable zone.

These objects can include

  • climbable trees
  • pool filter
  • pot plants
  • planter boxes
  • shrubs
  • outdoor furniture
  • BBQs
  • taps
  • toys
  • ladders
  • lattice
  • trellis, and
  • retaining walls

If a bush, shrub or tree has a thick branch with 10 millimetres or more in width to provide horizontal foothold, the entire bush, shrub or tree does not need to be removed. Instead, the branch can be cut off. Where foliage can be seen somewhat as a deterrence, cut back and exposed stumps and bushes can be seen to aid as an act for climbing and so need to be removed.

When bushes, shrubs or tress remain inside a NCZ non-climbable zone, owners are responsible for trimming them frequently and monitoring them for exposed branches to prevent children climbing them and finding clever ways to access the pool area.


Handy Resources

Keep informed with our reading resources

PoolSS Free Online Resource Library

PoolSSS Legal Centre

The Ultimate PoolSSS Checklist

PoolSS DIY Pool Safety Self Assessment Checklists

Disclaimer: The Ultimate PoolSSS Checklist is a guide only, and does not constitute acknowledgment or approval of compliance or safety. If you check “No” to any of our questions, we recommend you Book A Free Inspection with a pool safety inspector to carry out an inspection confirming if your pool is compliant. 

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