Window ventilation in schools has come under focus during the pandemic, but ventilation must be provided while also preventing fall and other injuries. Here we look at window safety in schools.
The Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of open windows in schools to reduce virus transmission. However open windows must be balanced with the need to prevent falls from windows. Indeed, the pre-pandemic focus on the risk of falls from windows has led to many schools fitting windows that can’t be opened.
Now, perhaps more than ever, we are aware that adequate ventilation reduces how much virus is in the air and can help to reduce Covid 19 virus transmission as well as the spread of other airborne viruses. It’s for this reason that schools have been advised to identify rooms without sufficient ventilation and to take measures to improve ventilation in those rooms.
Adhering to Window Safety Regulations
All workplaces must be adequately ventilated and all employers, including schools, should undertake a risk assessment of all rooms including identifying poorly ventilated rooms.
Providing sufficient ventilation in schools is not as simple as opening windows though, because, as mentioned above, schools need to adhere to the regulations around window safety in schools. The Health and Safety Regulations state that:-
In education buildings where there is a danger of falling through a window from height, the window must be fitted with restrictor to prevent it opening more than 100mm.
Open windows should not project into an area where people are likely to collide with them (e.g. walkways/play areas). Either window opening restrictors must be fitted or a means provided to prevent people walking/running close to the opening windows (e.g. barriers/shrubs).
In special schools, and maintained schools which have students who might try to jump out of windows above ground level, the following additional requirements also apply to windows on floors above surface level:
- The restrictor and fixings must only be capable of being overridden by the use of a tamper-proof tool (e.g. the standard window restrictors which can be pressed to over-ride are not adequate, nor are screw fixings which could be undone using an object to turn them);
- The window frame/restrictor must be suitably robust enough to withstand foreseeable forces a determined individual might apply in trying to open the window further and against potential damage (either accidental or deliberate).
The Solution to School Window Safety
Window restrictors for schools, also know as ‘window cable locks’, are an ideal way to provide ventilation in schools while ensuring window safety. These allow windows to be opened to 100mm for ventilation while also being strong enough to prevent falls and unauthorised entry through partially opened windows. Fitting such a device to stop a window opening too far can be used on wood and UPVC windows as well as sash and inward opening windows.
In winter with higher outside winds, windows and doors partially open using window cable restrictors can still provide acceptable ventilation while keeping the space comfortable.
Investing for the Future
Professor Tim Sharpe, a member of the Environmental Modelling Group – a sub-group of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said about ventilation “It doesn’t mean opening all the windows all the time, it might be things like opening windows a little bit. It might be things like opening the windows a lot in between classes just to kind of flush things through a little bit. That could be a useful technique so that people aren’t cold or uncomfortable.”
Window restrictors for schools provide the possibility of both having windows open a little bit and opening them completely with either a key or a push and twist mechanism. There also options that are permanently fixed as restricted. Jackloc can help you to determine which style of window restrictor is best for your school.
Investing for the Future
The benefits of ensuring adequate ventilation are clear during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the benefits extend beyond Covid-19 and any investment will be effective post Covid. Ventilation does not only remove Covid-19, but also many other viruses and pathogens. Increasing ventilation could reduce levels of general sickness absence, which will help to improve educational outcomes and reduce costs.
Jackloc offer free virtual site surveys over the summer holidays to provide recommendations, advice and quotes. Our virtual site surveys also allow us to look at the windows through a video call.
The site survey is free, with no obligation to purchase and just requires a video connection via a portable electronic device so that we can see the windows in detail. Once the survey has taken place, you will receive a verbal and written report of our advice.
If you need professional installation support, we can also provide details of commercial and domestic installers who can help.