This article is about window safety requirements in QLD body corporate buildings.
Question: Are there legal requirements for an existing body corporate building in Queensland to have safety screens or window locks fitted to windows above 2m?
I own a 3 strata titled unit complex in Brisbane. One of the units has windows that are 2m above ground. Am legally required to fix safety screens or window locks on the windows in this unit? I understand the National Construction Code specifies various requirements for the prevention of falls from openable windows and in NSW safety screens and window locks are required.
I’m unable to find information that states if it is a legal requirement for Queensland strata block to have safety screens fitted to windows above 2m. From what I understand, safety screens are only required if it is a new build or there is extensive renovation undertaken. Can you please shed any light on whether it is a legal requirement or not to fix safety screens to existing windows above 2m in Queensland?
Answer: To date, there is no “retrospective” requirement in Queensland. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fit a restrictive device to windows, as this would be considered best practice.
You are correct regarding NSW legislation and where there is a significant upgrade to the number of windows (I think it’s 25% or more) in a scheme, or if it’s a new build anywhere in Australia.
In 2013 (from memory 17 May) the National Construction Code change came into effect where all schemes approved for development must have windows in residential units.
In the state of NSW, under the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 they made this obligation retrospective. Thus requiring all Owners Corporations (Bodies Corporate) to install window safety devices on windows regardless of “when” their scheme was built.
This requirement having been made retrospective was mainly driven by the high number of instances where children had fallen out of windows in Sydney. The Westmead Hospital had been publicising statistics: 1998 and 2008, there were 91 admissions from falls from windows in high rise buildings, 65% of which were children under 4, hence the push for a retrospective change. Interestingly it was only retrospective to strata schemes and not all forms of residential high-rise such as company title.
The requirement to install a window safety device applied to:
- Windows with a sill height less than 1.7 metres from internal floor level, and,
- An inside floor height above 2 metres from the ground level outside the window.
These devices are a complying device if it:
- Is capable of restricting the opening of a window so that a sphere with a diameter of 125mm or more cannot pass through the opening,
- Is capable of withstanding an outward horizontal action of 250 newtons, and,
- Has a child resistant release mechanism, in the case of a device that can be removed, overridden or unlocked.
To clarify, to date there is no “retrospective” requirement in any other state/territory. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fit a restrictive device as this would be considered best practice. For example, we had a significant number of Gold Coast building managers request we fit Child Window Safety Devices, even though not legislatively required. This is because they had worked out that I high number of holidaymakers came from NSW and parents tend to let their guard down when holidaying so the best practice was to install the devices. Where possible I would fit a flyscreen security screen. This may the window can be left open; insects and burglars can’t get in and children cannot fall out.
This post appears in the October 2021 edition of The QLD Strata Magazine.
Have a question about window safety in QLD body corporate buildings or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
- QLD: Q&A Can a Common Property Asset be Repurposed?
- QLD: Owner Improvements
- QLD: Standard Format Plan Maintenance
Looking for strata information concerning your state? For state-specific strata information, take a look here.