The NSW government has moved to prevent children falling from multi-storey homes by requiring all above ground windows to be fitted with locks or safety devices.
SOURCE | AAP | Liam Howitt
Between 2011 and the end of 2012, 39 children aged 9 or younger were hospitalised in NSW as a result of window falls.
From May, all windows above ground floor in new strata buildings will have to have locks or devices to prevent them opening more than 12.5cm, Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts said on Wednesday.
Older buildings will need to be retrospectively fitted with the devices within five years.
Mr Roberts said the measures were necessary with families increasingly living in apartment blocks.
“Some owners and tenants will already have safety devices fitted to their windows but this will ensure any child living in or visiting an apartment above the ground floor will be safe,” he told reporters.
He said window locks in New York had resulted in a 96 per cent reduction in children admitted to hospital from falls.
Cathy Sherry from the UNSW law faculty, who contributed to a 2011 report about children falling from buildings, said it made sense to oblige owner corporations to fix all locks.
“There is nothing to stop tenants taking responsibility themselves and fitting the new locks but to have a blanket rule … makes things simpler and could save a child’s life.”
Australian Medical Association NSW President Brian Owler said the locks would offer protection that fly screen windows could not.
Professor Danny Cass, from the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, said windows were a “booby trap” in every house. “It is a latent problem and a booby trap … and parents need to be aware of it.” The Owners Corporation Network has also welcomed the reforms.
Opposition fair trading spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk has called on the government to immediately roll out the new window safety measures.
“Five years is far too long for families with young children currently living in apartments to have to wait for safety devices to be installed,” she told AAP on Wednesday.