Volume 9, Issue 2 - February 2008
Window Fall Update
When the Minnesota State legislature decided to take up the issue of child window falls during last year’s sessions, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) became involved to help provide a voice of reason and help ensure that the legislation would help reduce deaths and injuries from child falls.
Minnesota Considers Legislation to Prevent Window Falls
As part of a coalition formed to help guide passage of the bill, WDMA worked with other stakeholders, including the Builders Association of Minnesota (BAMN), the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), and the Association of Minnesota Building Officials (AMBO), as well as interest from the multi-family housing interests in Minnesota. Through the efforts of this coalition, the bill was amended to indicate that the DLI should amend the state building code to allow all types of window fall prevention devices—including guards as well as security screens—as long as they comply with standards developed by ASTM. The language, as passed, also required that DLI undertake a rulemaking process to update the Minnesota building code. Another provision in the bill called for the Minnesota Department of Health to perform a review of child window fall-related serious injuries and deaths, in order to measure the effectiveness of the bill, as well as step up safety awareness efforts. WDMA is hopeful that this three-pronged approach will have the best possible outcome and the most positive effect possible on reducing child falls in Minnesota.
As a result of WDMA efforts, and participation on the DLI window safety committee, the rule as drafted would require that builders furnish ASTM-compliant devices in windows for multi-family occupancies. This requirement, coupled with the educational efforts focusing on the existing housing stock, is the best response to the legislative mandate.
ICC Tackles Fall Prevention as Well
There is a lack of available data on child window falls, due in part because the incidents are infrequent in comparison to other household accidents. This lack of detailed data makes it difficult to respond to emotional arguments. Other successes, including escapes through windows during residential fires, are not reported typically. Trying to quantify the positive role windows play in emergency escape and rescue is indeed a daunting task. Stepping up industry-led efforts to quantify all aspects of the safety issues related to windows is paramount to effective debate.
ASTM F15 Committee Updates “Window Guard”
The committee also is developing requirements for “window opening control devices” that will allow the caregiver to set the window opening more easily at less than four inches, a dimension recommended by the CPSC as well as the ICC. These devices, typically used to control ventilation, may bring some additional benefit to child fall safety. The committee included performance requirements for method of operation and other considerations when expanding the standards to include window opening control devices. The standards will be available for review and balloting before the ASTM committees.
For more information, visit www.astm.org.
Michael Fischer of the Kellen Company serves as director of codes and regulatory compliance for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association. He may be reached at MFischer@wdma.com. Mr. Fischer’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.