Estates managers 'ignoring' warnings over window restrictor failings

Manufacturer warns that health faciities may not be offering level of security required to keep patients safe

A manufacturer is warning of the dangers posed by modern window restrictors.

Toby Staff, managing director of Newstar Door Controls, said that, despite a Department of Health Estate and Facilities Alert being issued in 2013, there are still specifications for window restrictors coming through from estates and facilities managers with nothing more than the BS Standard.

In the government warning, BS EN 13126-5:2011, the test for window restrictors, was singled out as inadequate by ministers for two reasons.

Firstly, testing to 500N was deemed inadequate in preventing a determined effort to force a window open beyond the 100mm restriction.

Secondly, it was feared that locked restrictors could be opened with commonly-available flat-bladed instruments as well as the ‘key’ provided.

“The function of the alert was to communicate safety and potential risks in the healthcare environment,” said Staff.

We believe the message hasn’t got through to the estate and facilities managers and that they are unwittingly not using the latest guidelines

“But we believe the message hasn’t got through to the estate and facilities managers and that they are unwittingly not using the latest guidelines.

“It is especially important where there are at risk patients, specifically in mental health facilities, and where patients may be in a confused mental state.”

To combat the first problem, while the warning did not define what constituted ‘substantial’ or ‘robust’, it singled out that BS EN 13126-5:2011, which tests forced opening to a maximum of 500N, was inadequate.

The alert recommends the potential use of a second window restrictor.

“To assist estate and facilities managers, following the alert we retested our products and confirmed that when our keyed window restrictor is used in tandem with our non-keyed fixed version, a maximum holding force of 5250N is achieved, substantially more than what is required in the standard,” said Staff.

“We have alsofurther tested our keyed window restrictors, which showed a maximum holding force of 1907N and our non-keyed window restrictor 2641N.”

Thousands of restrictors installed in health facilities may not be giving the level of security required and could be falling foul of their duty to keep patients safe

The second problem of keyed restrictors opening with common flat-bladed instruments such as a knife or screwdriver, which break the locking mechanism; can be addressed in two ways.

“As a manufacturer we have looked at our designs and our key has three teeth, which means it cannot be opened using another instrument and, if for any reason the lock fails, it will fail in the locked position. This means that, for new facilities, or where new windows are being installed, there is a single solution that has been tested to adhere to the higher demands.

He added: “It’s time to get the message out.

“Thousands of restrictors installed in health facilities may not be giving the level of security required and could be falling foul of their duty to keep patients safe."

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