Health and Safety Alert Highlights Dangers of Unsecured Windows
Care home and hospital managers had 6 months to comply with a health and safety alert sparked by a person dying after falling from a window. Action needs to be taken to ensure window restrictors are regularly checked and maintained. The Department of Health and the Health and Safety Executive issued the warning to care and health service providers in January 2012, allowing six months for compliance.
Guidance came after it was discovered that the fatal accident happened because the window’s integral side-stay restrictor had failed due to deterioration and cracking of the plastic spacer. Between November 2011 and May 8th 2012, there have been four reported fatalities due to falls from windows in health and social care settings. This is a worrying trend, as it compares to an average of four a year – 21 such falls in all – between 2005 and 2010. These recent incidents have happened for a number of different reasons – windows being unrestricted, window restrictors failing or falls through the glass. It should be remembered that these figures do not include all the non-fatal falls that may have occurred. In the care sector, we are all aware of the need for property risk assessments – a detailed assessment and evaluation of risks – with regard to windows and the potential danger they can pose to people receiving care. After looking carefully at all foreseeable situations that could put people at risk, managers have a legal duty to take reasonable, practicable steps to minimise the likelihood of injury or death. In undertaking such assessments, a balance needs to be achieved to ensure the health and safety of individuals is not put at risk while the independence of others is not curtailed. Some might argue that, to create as homely and comfortable an environment as possible for care service users, windows should be capable of being opened wide, as in a domestic setting. So what can care providers do to ensure they comply with all the legal requirements – including the recent health and safety alert – and safeguard our young, elderly and vulnerable members of society from such dangers? The Jackloc window restrictor limits opening to 10cm by means of a flexible cable between a window or door and its frame – but a key can release the cable to allow wider opening when necessary. It can be fitted to any type of window or door, whether wooden, metal or UPVC. As leaders in our field, the Jackloc is highly respected and trusted. It has been tested to 3000 Newtons without breaking – the maximum load the UKAS test facility could undertake. It features a five disc locking mechanism, is made of high grade steel and is highly resistant to damage. It is quickly and easily fitted, allowing prompt action to be taken to combat any identified risks. Our locks also offer a much more cost-effective solution than fitting replacement windows with integral restrictors. Jacklocs are fitted in care homes, hospitals, schools, hotels, student accommodation and high-rise flats across the UK and all over the world, including Russia, South Africa, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. This latest health and safety alert flags up the need for window restrictors and the importance of regular checks, maintenance and repairs to ensure they continue to do their job effectively. It requires health and care providers to examine integral side-stay restrictors for deterioration and damage and, where necessary, implement repairs and control measures. If a plastic spacer shows signs of deterioration such as discolouration or cracking, it suggests either temporarily securing the window closed or fitting a secondary restrictor until repair or replacement is carried out. At Jackloc, we are committed to educating people and raising awareness of the potential dangers of unsecured windows. As part of this, we have always firmly advocated a three-step approach: Assessment of risks, and detailed assessment and evaluation of risk Action to minimise those risks – fitting Jackloc window restrictors to the appropriate windows and doors, On-going regular maintenance of the Jackloc window restrictors to keep them operating correctly at all times. When taking into account the risk of families losing a loved one so needlessly – our guiding belief is that “The price of safety cannot be measured ” . Jackloc window restrictor – where ever there’s a window. Please look at our video here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksLOi2sq_qQ and the Health and Safety Executive Information sheet, providing guidelines on falls from windows or balconies in Health and social care. http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hsis5.htm# For more information on the Jackloc window restrictor, visit www.jackloc.com or call + 44 (0) 1455 220616.