MN Senate Says Safety Screen Alternatives OK; House Still Pushing for Screens Only

April 1, 2007
Government

Thanks in part to window industry pressure, Minnesota senators have modified language in the proposed safety screen law to include other safety measures such as “hardware, guards, and other devices that comply with the standards.” The House version of the bill, however, still calls only for “safety screens” but there are ongoing efforts to unify the language.

The current Senate version requires compliance with standards for window fall protection devices developed by ASTM as referenced in the International Building Code model language and calls for educational efforts to inform existing building owners about window safety.

Named “Laela’s Law” for a young girl who fell from a fourth-story window in Minneapolis after leaning on the screen, the legislation could be one of the toughest statewide standards for window safety in the nation. The law could require both new construction and remodeled structures—and not only multi-family dwellings, but single-family houses as well—to have safety measures in place by 2009.

A coalition headed by the Window and Door Manufacturers Association offered comment on early versions of the Senate bill, explaining that the cost of higher performing screens would likely fall on the shoulders of consumers. Further, industry representatives pointed out that allowing for options beyond screens would give homeowners more options, and perhaps a higher degree of safety. “We’re actually advocating for a stronger bill,” Mike Fischer, director of codes and regulatory compliance for WDMA, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

After-market window guards, or horizontal restraints that screw into the sides of window frames, come at a minimal cost, but some involved in the proposed legislation worry that tenants and building occupants might remove the safety devices if they interfere with the view or cleaning efforts. That’s why some advocates are still voicing a preference for safety screens only, the newspaper reports. “The screen is more likely to be on the window,” Sen. Linda Berglin of Minneapolis, told the newspaper. “Window guards are more likely to be removed for cleaning and not put back on.”

WDMA and other industry representatives worked with the Senate on its version of the bill, and report that they will continue to work with the House to include alternate safety measures in its text.

Both the Senate version and House version of the bill can be monitored online.