Pool owners urged to check for recalled gate latches

1 August 2018

Home pool owners across Australia are being urged to check the safety of their pool gate latch, as a recall has been issued for a gate latch mechanism that is common on some frameless and semi-frameless glass pool barriers. Various distributors of glass gate latch sets have launched voluntary product recalls, as it's been revealed the products do not comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1 2012 Safety Barriers for Swimming Pools.

The concern with the latch is over the fact that it may permanently lock in the open position, preventing the gate from self-latching and enabling children to access the pool unaccompanied.

Frameless glass panels are a popular choice with backyard pool owners in Australia, as they lend a neat, minimalist aesthetic to the mandatory safety barrier. The fixings and fittings supplied with these fences are also small and unobtrusive, to fit with the sleek lines of the glass panels. Naturally this includes the gate hardware too.

The slim nature of the gate latch mechanism means that the internal workings are quite small and complex. A small “striker” mechanism inside the latch is designed to engage a “keeper” which is fixed to the gate-post. Think of it as a spring-loaded hook and eye.

A problem with this particular latch can occur when the gate is open and unlatched. If the latch release handle is twisted or turned, in some circumstances the gate latch mechanism activates, and the striker springs into the closed position. It can then become locked in this position, with or without the key in place, which prevents it from catching the keeper when the gate closes.

This means that while the gate may still self-close, it does not lock into place, although it may look like it has. The gate can therefore be opened easily - even by a small child - or be blown open in the wind. This will reduce the effectiveness of the barrier as it no longer prevents unsupervised access to the pool by children.

So, what should home pool owners do?

If you have a frameless or semi-frameless glass pool fence, you should check the operation and function of your gate latch mechanism immediately. It is important to note that not all types are defective, but as there are not many identifiers or trademarks on the gate latches, there are few visual clues as to which ones will potentially need to be replaced. The product recall effects both the all-metal type and the combination metal and plastic models.

The only way to be 100% certain is to perform a function test. Simply open the gate and while holding the gate open, attempt to activate the striker by manipulating the locking mechanism with the supplied key, and even without the key in place. If the latch activates then you will need to replace the entire gate latch set. You will need to use the supplied key to test the operation of the gate latch in both the Locked and Unlocked positions, to ensure the gate can’t be locked permanently into the open position.

If your latch mechanism fails the test it is not only a non-functional gate that presents a safety hazard to your family, but is non-compliant with pool fencing laws in Western Australia and will be failed when your pool barrier is next inspected.

Your mechanism may be able to be replaced as part of this product recall. Contact your pool fence supplier or installer to arrange a replacement, or return the mechanism to the place of purchase. New mechanisms, that are compliant, can be purchased from reputable suppliers of glass pool fencing.

For suppliers in your area please refer to the Swimming Pool and Spa Association (WA) suppliers directory at the link below.

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