Department of Health Window Restrictors Alert

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The Department of Health have this week published an alert on the use of Window Restrictors.  The main issue is that they may be inadequate in preventing a determined effort to force a window open beyond the 100mm restriction.  This publication follows an incident whereby a patient died following a fall from a second floor window where he had forcibly overcome the window restrictor while in an acutely confused and agitated state following major surgery.

The Coroners investigations led them to issue a Rule 43 letter to the Chief Medical Officer of England requesting action to be taken.  Following this the Health and Safety Executive is commissioning research into the robustness of window restrictors.  The Department of Health is considering reviewing the guidance contained in Health Technical Memorandum HTM 55 pending the outcome of this research.

In the alert it suggests that providers should take action to address this issue.  All healthcare organisations should:

  •  Review the guidance on window restrictors contained in HTM 55.
  • Inspect all installed window restrictors to ensure that they are compliant with the guidance and are in good working order.
  • Rectify any identified problems, for example, if a single restrictor is fitted and it is assessed as being inadequate, organisations should consider replacing them and/or fitting a second restrictor on the opposite side of the window as reinforcement.
  • Put together a programme for inspecting, repairing and replacing damaged restrictors.
  • Assess the need for window restrictors on windows in patient areas that currently do not have them fitted.

Taking these steps and any other steps that seem appropriate will assist in defending under any allegations of breaches of health and safety involving regulatory or criminal liability in the unfortunate event that an accident occurs.  We strongly recommend all providers to take action in relation to this.

Follow the link below to view the document in full.

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