10 May 24

A coroner has issued a warning to the housing secretary about the use of fixed window restrictors after a resident fell from the open window of his 16th floor flat.

Alison Mutch, senior coroner for Manchester South, sent a prevention of future deaths report to Michael Gove at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) in April.

It came after the coroner opened an inquest into the death of an L&Q resident who died on 26 August 2023 on the concourse of Stretford House, Chapel Lane in Stretford.

During the course of the investigation, which concluded with an inquest in March, a post-mortem examination conducted by a consultant pathologist found that the man died as a consequence of multiple injuries.

Stretford House is a 23-floor residential block, made up of 134 dwellings, where landlord L&Q is the freeholder.

The resident died as a result of multiple injuries sustained when he fell from the open window of his 16th floor flat while his judgement was impaired through substance use and following an altercation with his partner. 

A police investigation found that there was no third party involvement in his death.

At the end of the inquest, Ms Mutch recorded a conclusion of misadventure. This ruling implies that the deceased has taken a deliberate action that has then resulted in his or her death. 

The coroner said that the evidence she heard raised the concern that there is a risk of future deaths unless action is taken.

In her report, Ms Mutch said: “In the course of the evidence before the court, it was established that, whilst the windows in [the resident’s] flat were fitted with locks and dual-position window restrictors, the relevant restrictors can be released enabling the window to fully rotate within the frame (nominally to enable the resident to clean the glass).

“The degree to which the windows can be opened is therefore not restricted in the same way as if fixed window restrictors were fitted.

“It is a matter of concern that, aside from certain buildings designed for educational or healthcare use, or provided for vulnerable adults, current building regulations do not require fixed window restrictors to be fitted to opening windows in high-rise residential buildings; and in relation to windows of the type and design in use in Stretford House, there is no current requirement to retrofit fixed window restrictors.”

DLUHC now has a duty to respond to the report by 12 June with details of action taken or proposed to be taken, setting out the timetable for action.

In response, DLUHC has offered its condolences to the resident’s family and friends and said it will reply to the coroner shortly.

The Building Safety Regulator was also contacted for a response.

A copy of the report was also issued to L&Q, which expressed its sadness at the tragic death and said its thoughts remain with the family, friends and neighbours of the resident.

David Lewis, executive group director for property services at L&Q, said: “We have fully assisted the coroner with their enquiries throughout. The safety and well-being of our residents is our top priority, and all windows at Stretford House comply with the relevant building safety regulations. 

“We are committed to ensuring that residents are and feel safe in their homes, and we have taken this opportunity to review the quality standards we adhere to when building new homes or when improving and upgrading windows on existing homes to look for opportunities to introduce best practice measures that will further improve safety.”  

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