The health and safety enforcement team of a city council have recently investigated the death of a 31 year old resident at a mental health crisis house. The resident fell from a second floor window at the home which was fitted with a restrictor. The restrictor is widely available and relies on a cable mounted to the opening frame which clips into a socket mounted to a non-opening part of the frame, restricting the opening to 100mm.
At the subsequent inquest, evidence emerged of problems with the type of window restrictor as follows:
- If the cable was clipped into the socket by a simple push, it would appear secure when pulled or tugged.
- However, just by pushing the key lock / release button, the cable was released.
- The cable was only secure when physically locked with a key.
- Even if locked, the lock was easily defeated within no more than a couple of seconds by inserting the blade of a pair of scissors into it.
It is the duty holder’s responsibility to assess the risks of falls from windows and to select and fit suitable restrictors. You are advised to review restrictors in your workplace and take specialist advice if unsure as to its suitability. Further information on falls from windows can be found here.