NSW minister for fair trading Anthony Roberts has introduced into parliament new window safety laws to help prevent children falling from windows in residential strata buildings. Mr Roberts said in 2011-2012, 39 children aged nine or younger were hospitalised in NSW due to window falls.
“The suffering these children and their families have gone through due to a terrible accident is devastating,” Mr Roberts said.
“Window safety devices provide the last line of defence to prevent a serious injury or death. The NSW government’s landmark new laws will help to save lives.”
In March, the NSW government agreed to a range of measures, including an amendment to the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996. This followed a report by The Children’s Hospital at Westmead Working Party for the Prevention of Children Falling from Residential Buildings.
Mr Roberts said that the NSW government will amend strata and residential tenancies legislation to require owners corporations to install safety devices on all windows that pose a safety risk to young children, allow owners to install safety devices regardless of the by-laws of the strata scheme and to include window safety devices in the prescribed condition report for rental premises.
“Owners corporations will be required to install safety devices that allow windows above the ground floor to open to a maximum of 12.5cm when the lock is engaged,” Mr Roberts said. “Residents will still be able to open their windows as they do now, however they will have the security of knowing that when the lock is engaged, children in their care will be protected from a tragic accident.”
Australian Medical Association NSW president, Brian Owler commended the NSW Government’s commitment to protecting children from permanent, debilitating injury or death due to falls from windows.
“This is great news for any parent of young children who lives in an apartment with rooms above the ground floor,” professor Owler said. “Similar laws were introduced in New York in the 1970’s and this resulted in a 96% decrease in hospitalisations due to falls from windows.
“NSW is the first state in Australia to bring in laws of this kind and I hope the other states soon follow suit.”
Owners corporations have been given five years to fit window safety devices, dating back to the release of the NSW government’s Children and Window Safety Consultation Paper on 13 March 2013.
“I am mindful of the necessary procedures owners corporations must follow, however they must have window safety devices installed by 13 March 2018,” Mr Roberts said.
“With more than 70,000 strata schemes across the state and an average of five new strata schemes registered each day, this realistic timeframe ensures owners corporations can identify windows that are affected, discuss their approach and schedule the fitting of safety devices.”
Chair of the Owners Corporation Network, Stephen Goddard, said the retro-fitting of safety devices is necessary because many housing strata schemes were built at a time when the community was unaware of the dangers.
“The Owners Corporation Network supports any action the government takes to reverse the threat to life and safety from the amenity in a strata scheme.”
NSW Fair Trading has released a series of videos that show how inexpensive and easy it is for window safety devices to be installed. The safety videos are available at the NSW Fair Trading website.