No excuse for makeshift restrictors

By Toby Staff, managing director of Newstar Door Controls.

As a supplier of widow restrictors, I always check out what’s been installed wherever I am. So, you can imagine my shock when I stayed in a hotel run by a large hotel group in Torquay over the summer to see a standard plug chain, washer and screw fitted as a window restrictor instead of a restrictor that’s been designed for the purpose of limiting the opening of windows.

Next to the makeshift restrictors, there was also a sign from the hotel’s maintenance team saying: “Caution!! Do not open due to safety reasons!!”

I cannot believe that an organisation that should have the safety of their customers as its primary concern would think it is acceptable to fit such an ill thought out solution to the problem of injury or death caused by falling from windows. In addition, the cost of providing their proposed solution probably greatly outweighed the fit and proper solution: fitting a purpose-built window restrictor that has be tested to the relevant standard BS EN 13126-5:2011.

In fact, the liability to the hotel is compounded by such poor solutions to mitigate risk. What if a guest doesn’t heed the advice and opens the window with the inadequate restrictor and accidentally falls or deliberately jumps out? Was the hotel taking reasonable precautions by installing an inadequate device and warning signs? Would the insurance company say the hotel was at fault for not installing standard purpose-made products that are readily available?

These are valid questions, and not ones I would like to answer, especially after the type of trauma involved. I imagine in such a case the first place an insurance investigator would look would be at the window restrictors.

There are no reasons to do any of this. Off the shelf window restrictors are not expensive and they are tested to BS EN 13126-5:2011. This standard specifies the requirements and test methods for durability, strength, security and functionality of devices that restrict the opening of windows. It means that any window restrictor on the market must be tested and pass these standards.

It’s not good enough to rely on makeshift products, and I urge hotel managers, owners and shareholders to check their window restrictors to ensure they comply with the regulations.