Children can and do fall out of windows. In NSW in 2011-2012 there were 39 children, aged nine years or younger, hospitalised due to falls from window.
The NSW Government has passed legislation amending the Strata and Residential tenancies legislation requiring that owners corporations 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 include window safety devices in the prescribed condition report for rental premises.
Windows above the ground floor will need to have safety devices installed allowing the window to be opened to a maximum of 12.5cm when the lock is engaged. Owners corporations will be given five years to fit window safety devices.
Australian Medical Association NSW President, A/Prof Brian Owler, commended the NSW Government’s commitment to protecting children from window falls:
Similar laws were introduced in New York in the 1970s and this resulted in a 96% decrease in hospitalisations due to falls from windows.
Source: Media release, 18 September 2013.
The new legislation
Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Child Window Safety Devices) Bill 2013. This Bill passed both houses and received assent on 29 October 2013. See Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Child Window Safety Devices) Act 2013 (NSW). This Act has not yet commenced operation.
Background reports that contributed to this legislative change
- Children and window safety – consultation paper, NSW Fair Trading, 13 March 2013
- Preventing children from falling from residential buildings: lessons of success from a working party, NSW Health Symposium, October 2012
- Kids don’t fly, Kids Health, Children’s Hospital Westmead
- 'Window safety locks key for saving lives' by Cathy Sherry, UNSW News, originally reported in the SMH, 15 March 2013