Risks to vulnerable members of the public from falling from height from windows

Health and Safety Executive - Safety alert

Department Name:
Operational Strategy Division - Public Services Sector

Bulletin No:
OPSTD 1-2012

Issue Date:
19 March 2012

Target Audience:
Health and social care providers
, NHS Trusts / Boards, hospitals, public buildings, schools, care homes, other care settings

Key Issues:
Potential failure of window side-stay restrictors in health and social care premises. Action required where there are people vulnerable to the risk of falls to prevent falling from height due to failure of the window side-stay mechanism.


This Safety Notice is aimed at organisations and individuals, who provide facilities for vulnerable people who are at risk of falling from windows.

The Department of Health have issued a safety alert following an HSE investigation into a fatal incident where window side-stays, which were fitted with plastic spacers as part of the mechanism, failed.

The alert should be read by any organisation where window restrictors are fitted to limit window openings (usually to not more than 100mm) in order to protect vulnerable people from falling. Such organisations include NHS Trusts, care home providers and those who manage buildings where vulnerable people may be present (eg schools).

The NHS Alert was issued on 19th January 2012 and can be found on the Department of Health website.

Further information about the importance of window opening restriction is available on our website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/healthservices/falls-windows.htm

Action required:

Providers of facilities used by people vulnerable to the risk of falling should consider the issues raised within the NHS Alert and take appropriate action.

Relevant legal references:

  • Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974)
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999)
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

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