It is important that property owners and management companies, are adequately privy to safety issues, and also informed of solutions for those issues that are present on the properties they maintain. Due to lenient railing codes in the past, apartments/condominiums, and hotels can be particularly dangerous. In the U.S., approximately 140 children die every year, and three million need emergency medical treatment after falls from high buildings or extreme heights. Multiple levels, decks, and high windows are significant danger inherent to these properties.
Vertical rails can have gaps through which a pet or even a child can pass through and subsequently fall, or become lodged between. The space between vertical rails on pool fencing is also a concern. Horizontal rails are being addressed as well. A child can use the rails to climb up and possibly fall over the railing. Structures like balconies, decks, and porches are an important focal point for insurance companies, and inspectors take a particularly close look on railings because of the specific dangers.
Many older buildings and even those that currently “meet code” have railings that are a significant risk and liability. Infants before the age of one can squeeze through the current code specific of 4 inch gaps between vertical rails. In Los Angeles County in 2008 alone, falls accounted for $600,000 at about $5,000 per child for medical expenses; and nationally, 10 million dollars was outlaid to emergency and/or long term care for fall victims under the age of 14. (Center for Violence and Injury Control, Allegheny University of the Health Sciences).
In addition, there are many lawsuits that arise from injuries acquired by children, who have fallen through or have otherwise been injured, as a result of ineffectual railings. The expense for defense cases of these lawsuits can be substantial. Injuries and lawsuits that result from falls and other accidents involving railings/fencing can be significantly mitigated by modifying the physical environment. It is recommended property owners and managers walk the property and address these potential hazards.
There are cost effective solutions to help reduce the risk. However, many property owners inadequately install vinyl lattice, Plexiglas, or other material in an attempt to minimize the dangers of unsafe railings and pool fencings. These improvised retrofits can be expensive, and in most cases ineffectual in preventing accidents. It is even possible that they can create additional hazards. Improvisations, such as the use of lattice to close the openings between rails can become an opportunity for a child to climb and fall. Additionally, materials like Plexiglas and expanded wire mesh that are damaged or improperly installed can have sharp edges, or become loose, could be additional hazards to small children. There are cost effective solutions available to provide a safe environment for the families who reside on their properties to minimize the financial risk to the property owner.
Thomas Flynn has worked with a multi-family insurance carrier for five years helping to address railing safety hazards and limit the liability to the insurance carrier and property owners. Many property owners are hesitant to retrofit their property railings due to expense and visual impact of the property. His patent pending railing screen system provides an aesthetically pleasing and cost effective solution. If you would like to learn more about his railing safety-screening call (951) 202-8628 or visit my website at: www.saferailscreening.com.