Government strata legislation has made it compulsory for windows that are two metres or more above the ground to have safety devices fitted to prevent falls by children. This needs to be done by March 2018, and the body corporate may risk fines or other penalties for not complying.
Why have the changes been made?
According the Westmead Children’s Hospital, the numbers of children being admitted to hospital for falls from windows and balconies is rising. Most falls occur during the warmer months when windows are opened for ventilation and cooling, and when families are more inclined to use balconies.
The highest risk is among children aged between one and five – a time of life when their curiosity is high and is not always matched by their perception of danger!
The increase in the number of children falling from windows may possibly be due to the growth of higher-density housing, which often involves multi-storey buildings such as large apartment blocks. In the days when families mostly lived in suburban single-storey homes, the risk of falling from windows was probably quite a bit lower.
Does this apply to all windows?
The legislation applies to windows where the lower part of the window is less than 1.7m above the internal floor and is two metres higher than outside surfaces, and that can be opened wider than 12.5cm. High windows that children cannot reach do not need to have safety devices fitted. Ground-floor windows are also likely to be exempt.
What are the options for safety devices?
The safety device options include window locks, latches, and safety screens – although not flywire screens as these do not prevent children from falling out. The type of device to choose will depend on the style of windows – for instance, simple devices can be fitted to prevent sliding windows from opening more than 12.5cm, whereas a sash window will most likely require a device that needs some drilling to install.
The devices need to be installed by a licensed professional and certified every three years. Your body corporate management will likely arrange this on behalf of the Owners Corporation prior to March 2018. Alternatively individual apartment owners can install the locks as long as they meet the appropriate requirements.
Speak to us at Jamesons Strata Management if you would like to know more about this or other safety issues for strata complexes.