Where assessment identifies that the young and people using care services are at risk from falling from windows or balconies at a height likely to cause harm (eg above ground floor level), suitable precautions must be taken.
Windows that are large enough to allow people to fall out should be restrained sufficiently to prevent such falls. The opening should be restricted to 100mm or less. Window restrictors should only be able to be disengaged using a special tool or key.
“Many people believe that window films and security additions to glazing systems are purely an aesthetic indulgence. We work with high profile organisations and many larger public sector groups to ensure that they have simple effective solutions in place, not for aesthetic improvement, but to ensure a safer and legislatively compliant space.” Ken Brown, Director, Glazing Films & Blinds
What is a window restrictor?
A window restrictor is a device which prevents a window from opening more than a fixed distance. Commonly these are set to a maximum of 100mm, as this is the distance which scientists have determined will prevent a toddler getting out of a window.
What are the benefits?
Restriction of window openings protects children from the dangers of falling from upper floor windows. It also prevents adults from climbing through windows, as can happen with mentally ill or confused patients or residents. They also prevent accidental falls from windows which may be intrinsically hazardous to open and close, particularly the type which is hinged at the top. They also provide additional security.
Where are they normally fitted?
Restrictors are commonly fitted to upper floor windows in schools, public buildings, hotels, hospitals and care homes. They are also fitted for security reasons on ground floor windows.
As of yet, there is no explicit legal requirement to fit window restrictors on all buildings. However, in many buildings - such as the ones listed above - doing so will be standard practice. In fact, failure to do so can result in enforcement action being taken - as a recent case proves.
Sheffield Teaching NHS Foundation Trust was fined after pleading guilty to failings which led to a patient, Andrew Stoker (A), falling twelve metres from a window which wasn’t properly restricted. They were fined £18,000 with £15,000 costs.
There was, in fact, an extraordinary degree of failure by the Trust which had also received an improvement notice a year before the incident, warning them to improve their maintenance arrangements for window restrictors.
To make matters worse...
In this particular case, 'A' was admitted to undergo a psychiatric assessment, after stabbing himself in the stomach and throwing himself down the stairs at home. He was kept in a side ward even after his father drew attention to the fact that the window wasn’t restricted. 'A' is thought to have been attempting an escape when consultants arrived to assess him. He suffered serious injuries as a result of the fall and died three weeks later.
Tip 1. Fit window restrictors if you need them to protect people in your workplace. If building users include children, the mentally ill or other vulnerable people, we highly recommend that restrictors are fitted to all windows two metres or more from the ground.
Tip 2. Where they are fitted, the restrictors should prevent the window opening more than 100mm, and should only be able to be disengaged by using a special tool. Check the windows regularly.
To arrange a site survey, or for advice, information, samples or a no obligation installation quote, contact us on 01207 284 284 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.