Adrian Vicker is General Manager of Siegenia, one of the leading window and door hardware suppliers in the UK, and Tristan Cooke is Managing Director of Mila Window and Door Maintenance, social housing’s leading window and door repairs and maintenance specialist contractor.
In HA this month they discuss the importance of addressing safety and security as two different things when it comes to specifying windows in high rise applications.
Adrian, “as a supplier of window hardware for installation into high rise housing, I have often been struck by the choice of specification. Too often people focus on security locking systems without really giving too much thought to the environment they are going to be installed into, and the needs of the residents who are going to use them”.
“If we accept that Tilt and Turns are historically the most popular windows installed into high rise housing blocks, how many of them are actually specified with the correct gearing for the application”?
“One thing that is not required in high rise housing is high security – above the level of the second story there is simply no need. What they do need to do is provide safety”.
“The problem area for many installations is the limiting effect on the window where it is only capable of being operated in the ‘tilt’ position by the use of a handle and this is something which needs to be fully considered when thinking about the amount of use a window may get during its life expectancy”.
“A handle uses a key to limit the movement of the window (tilt first locking handle); over the following years a key could be misplaced making the functionality of the window obsolete, unusable by the resident, or unsafe”.
“A device within the gearing restricts the operation and cannot be misplaced, and with the correct specification of gearing the window – which can have a non-locking handle – must be closed before it can be operated through to the turn position. There are also surface mounted restriction devices that can be used without the need for a key, but which are ‘child-safe’ in operation”.
“It should be physically impossible for a window to be opened fully without a positive action on the part of the resident. Certainly, a child should never be able to unlock a handle or disengage a restrictor which leads to the aperture being fully open”. ”
As Managing Director of a repairs and maintenance business Tristan Cooke has seen these issues first hand. “We have worked alongside Siegenia for years, and what Adrian is talking about is something we see day in day out”.
“We specialise in the repair, maintenance, or replacement of window hardware in high-rise blocks, and one of the first things we do as a part of any audit is to assess whether the existing windows meet with modern day requirements for safety in use. So often they do not”.
“The omission of restrictors especially from the original specifications is staggering, this should be an essential part of any installation, and fortunately specifiers do understand that now. There are products on the market such as integrated mishandling operation hardware and surface mounted cable restrictors which address the issue and it is something we can re-address on site by changing the hardware to a more modern, more safety considered specification.
“I think in standard or what we might call traditional housing we all understand that ‘safety and security’ go hand in hand, but in high rise applications they are unique and really are two very different specifications, and much more thought needs to be given to the specific requirements of residents living in these applications”.
Back to Adrian “I think as Tristan says real consideration needs to be given to the needs of the users in high rise applications. The great thing is that the modern products do address these things because they are more readily available and can be retro-fitted to provide a much safer living environment for residents. Addressing safety considerations should be the first thought for those looking to refurbish their installed windows”