More than 50 children fall from windows and balconies in Australia every year. With many families now residing in unit blocks, amendments were introduced into the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 and Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2010 for window safety requirements. This is a reminder for owners corporations to include a provision for this in their annual budgets. 18 March 2018 may seem far away but dates can creep up on you.
Regulation 31 of the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Child Window Safety Devices) Act 2013 requires the installation of a screen, lock or a window safety device which must meet all of the following:
- Restrict the opening of a window at 12.5cm. This means that there should be a lock at 12.5cm or alternatives to locks may be screens, bars or grills that do not have a gap bigger than 12.5cm. The window may open more than 12.5cm but the lock or other alternatives must be in place.
- Resist an outward horizontal action of 250 newtons. This means screens are suitably robust. Generally, ordinary flyscreens do not meet this standard.
- Have a child resistant release mechanism, in the case of a device that can be removed, overridden or unlocked.
The above requirements apply to windows that meet all of the following:
- A window that can be opened.
- A window that is less than 1.7m above the internal floor.
- The internal floor is more than 2m above the outside ground below the window.
- A window on common property to which access can be gained from a residence in a strata scheme or a window on any part of the building that is part of a residence.
Also, section 64A of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 requires:
- An owners corporation must ensure that there are complying window safety devices for all windows of each building in the strata scheme to which the above applies. Work is carried out at the owners corporation’s expense.
- An owner of a lot may install a complying window safety device on a window servicing their lot to which this section applies. An owner who does so must repair any damage caused to any part of the common property by the installation of the device, ensure that the device is installed in a competent and proper manner and is in keeping with the appearance of the building.
Owners corporations will face fines if the new window safety requirements are not met by 13 March 2018. Lot owners may conduct the work at any time & inform the owners corporation but before doing so check with your owners corporation to see if they have works planned.