Landlords and letting agents should by now be conversant with the 2014 regulations on blinds and curtains and the measures necessary to prevent accidents with children. It is particularly important to ensure that blinds and curtains supplied in rental properties meet these regulations, otherwise, if there is an accident the landlord could be held liable.
Following consultations and in conjunction with the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA), RoSPA, British Standards Institute (BSI), the UK Government and the EU introduced stringent new standards governing the manufacture, selling and installation of new blinds in 2014.
This change in the law tightened safety regulations for blinds and shutters in the European Union, following 27 fatalities since 1999 where todlers and young children have become entangled with internal window blind cords and chains in the UK alone.
The EU issued three new regulations which now require all existing blinds to be made safe using a retrofit safety device, and all cords and chains to be fitted with a safety device at the point of manufacture.
The regulations require:
- safety devices to prevent cords or chains from forming a hazard
- the testing of all safety critical items of internal blinds
- the testing of blinds using safety devices
- the installation of safety devices on all blinds in manufacture
- maximum cord and chain lengths – must end 1.5 metres above the floor
- warnings and instructions in packaging at point-of-sale information.
27 children have died in the UK since 1999 following entanglement with a blind or curtain cord or chain. Toddlers have been most at risk of becoming entangled in a blind cord as they are inquisitive, and are especially vulnerable to strangulation.
Landlords need to be aware of these regulations, and should be looking to buy new blinds for their rental properties that are of a safe design – for example, blinds that are operated by wands rather than cords or chains.
Although the new standards do not apply to blinds already installed, it is in all landlords’ interests to replace any old fittings with blinds which meet the new standards.
These regulations are not widely known among the landlord community, so there is still a long way to go in raising awareness among landlords and agents, considering the estimated 200 million blinds already in UK homes.
If landlords have blinds in their properties operated by cords or chains it’s vital that they understand the risks and take steps to make sure their blinds are safe for children by replacing old designs.
See this Guide to Blind and Window Safety – http://makeitsafe.org.uk