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03-24-2009, 05:44 AM #1
Overspaced balusters and low windows - Dallas Study
When appropriate I like to be able to backup my recommendations with evidence that not only is X required, but also X is a significant hazard/problem and not just some "nit picking code requirement" - not only do I feel more confident when explaining the importance of correcting such a defect, but it's more likely to get corrected.
Often, the evidence I present is anecdotal, as for example when I explain how a poorly installed metal edging strip on a stair nosing cut my brothers foot so badly that it required more than 20 stitches, or how frequently when I'm pointing out a requirement for safety glazing someone present at the inspection will pull up their sleeve and show the scars resulting from a nasty cut they received from broken glass in a similar situation.
But when possible, I like to be able to present objective evidence. So I was pleased when I ran across this study of the hazards of overspaced balusters and low windowsills:
"For the three years of the investigation, 108 children <15 years of age were seen in emergency departments for injuries due to falls from buildings. Ninety eight of these were residents of Dallas County (annualized rate: 6.2 per 100 000 Dallas County children age 0–14 years)...
We were most surprised by two findings: most of the balcony related falls occurred as the child fell between the balcony rails, and most of the window related falls occurred from low lying windows. We had expected that most balcony related falls would have involved children climbing over or under the railings, but this was true in only a small proportion of the injuries. Most occurred when children fell between balcony rails, which were spaced an average of more than 7 inches (18 cm) apart, based on measurements from on-site visits of some of the apartments. Those apartments all were built before 1984, when the building code allowed balcony rail spacing of up to 9 inches (23 cm). Likewise, we had expected that most window related falls would have involved children climbing onto furniture (for example, beds, dressers, etc) or rolling off beds, but this was true only in a small proportion of injuries. Most of the falls occurred through windows that were within 2 feet (61 cm) of the floor, and the child fell from the floor through the window. Although most of the windows had screens, the screens were not sufficient to prevent the falls.
Two measures have potential to prevent most of these falls. For balconies, adherence to the currently recommended spacing of 4 inches (10 cm) or less could prevent almost any child from slipping between rails.12 For windows, since most of the falls were through low lying windows, either window guards3,11–13 or modification of the window to limit its opening or keep it closed, could prevent most of these falls. Alternatively, "child safety" window screens may provide protection against these falls.12 Current building codes in Dallas require that apartments built after November 1993 have balcony rails that are no more than 4 inches (10 cm) apart. However, there is no retroactive requirement for apartments built before 1993. Apartments built before 1984 were allowed to have balcony rails spaced up to 9 inches (23 cm), and before 1968 there was no code addressing rail spacing. To our knowledge, there is no requirement regarding placement of windows or the use of window guards in apartments in Dallas."
108 children in three years in one metro area - these really are significant hazards.
Last edited by Michael Thomas; 03-24-2009 at 06:09 AM.Michael Thomas
Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
03-24-2009, 06:59 AM #2
Re: Overspaced balusters and low windows - Dallas Study
You could put up some caution tape across the railing and take photo of it and put that in your report " THIS IS NOT SAFE " Do not use...
That just mite do the trick