Window Safety Two Years On

It’s been almost two years since the NSW Window Safety Legislation became mandatory within the residential strata sector. Post deadline ASQB continues to heavily contribute to the industry, our involvement spans from late implementation, ongoing maintenance and re-certification of window safety devices. This ongoing commitment to the industry, in conjunction with data collected during service implementation, provides a set of metrics that all strata stakeholders should pay attention to.

The Cost of Not Paying Attention

When it comes to non-compliance, the potential for liability as a result of an accident can be devastating; most importantly from a child safety standpoint, but also from a financial perspective. If reasonable care is not shown to have been taken by the Owners’ Corporations to satisfy legislative requirements, Strata Insurance coverage could become void. Further to this, third party action could even result in individual Strata Committee members being sued for damages, into the millions.

Industry Analysis Demonstrating Alarming Figures

Active Owners’ Corporations have adopted ASQB’s annual reinspection and certification services since 2015. The implementation of these services has provided ASQB with the opportunity to collect data that demonstrates how window safety devices are utilised and maintained.

Key Findings

– Approximately 90% of window safety devices are in good functional order after 12 months of usage; 

– Alarmingly, for every 2.5 lots re-inspected by ASQB, there is one window safety devices that fails to comply with legislation requirements; 

– A total of 10.38% of window safety devices failed 12 months after being certified to comply and 68% of failed safety devices occurred due to occupants tampering or permeant removal; and 

– Lost keys contributed to a significant portion of the failed assessments.

Two Falls in Two Weeks

In November 2019, two window falls were reported to ASQB in as many weeks. While both children were lucky to escape life-threatening injuries, they both had to be admitted to hospital for treatment.

After personally visiting each site to investigate the event, it was concerning to learn that both windows had working safety devices installed 12-18 months prior.

While there are currently no laws enforcing owners to routinely inspect and/or upkeep window safety devices, the above mentioned falls highlight the need for regular safety device checks.

In the first instance, the reason for failure was due to “Window Function Inefficiency”. Essentially, since the window safety installation occurred, the window rollers had disintegrated dropping the height of the sliding sash rendering the safety device useless until the sash had new rollers installed.

The second fall was from a third story window, the child fell onto a concrete driveway and miraculously survived. Again, this window had a suitable device installed 14 months earlier, however due to excessive force over a prolonged period, the device became dislodged and was totally removed from the window.

Applying A Set and Forget Approach to Window Safety Is Risky

As leaders within the industry, ASQB has installed and certified well over 350,000 windows since 2014, and our message has been clear from the start. A set and forget approach to windows safety is not good enough.

While there are currently no laws enforcing owners to routinely inspect and/or upkeep window safety devices, the above-mentioned falls highlight the need for regular safety device checks.

Strata living is about a communal environment, and owners have a collective responsibility to keep this environment safe for its occupants, most importantly the children. We are very fortunate that these most recent incidences didn’t result in more serious injuries, and as industry we should use these as case studies to educate the wider strata community and promote a proactive approach to window safety.

For any further enquiries I welcome you to contact me directly.

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