Lack of maintenance is top reason most windows fell from Jan-Nov; home owners surprised by penalties

There were 48 cases of fallen windows from January to November, similar to 2018's full-year total of 49 incidents. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A lack of maintenance was the most common reason why windows fell from buildings in the first 11 months of the year, the Building Construction Authority (BCA) and the Housing Board said on Thursday (Dec 12).

This is even as the authorities reminded home owners to check and maintain their windows every six months.

They added that if windows fall because they are not properly maintained, home owners, if found guilty, can be fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to a year, or both.

This was a point that many home owners The Straits Times spoke to expressed surprise about as they were not aware of the law.

There were 48 cases of fallen windows from January to November, similar to 2018's full-year total of 49 incidents.

Corresponding full-year figures were 56 in 2017, 45 in 2016 and 35 in 2015, the year with the lowest number of cases in the past 14 years.

"All windows may detach and fall when window parts become loosened or defective over time due to wear and tear," the BCA and HDB said in a joint statement on the importance of checking windows regularly.

Mr Lim Beng Kwee, the director of BCA's enforcement and structural inspection department, noted that the risk of injury from fallen windows is high due to "Singapore's built environment (being) made up of mostly high-rise buildings".

Half of the 48 cases this year involved casement windows, or windows with a side hinged to a frame, the BCA and HDB said, with the most common cause of incidents being corroded aluminium rivets.

Since 2004, it has been a legal requirement to replace aluminium rivets with stainless steel ones, and those found guilty of not complying with this can be jailed for up to six months, fined up to $5,000, or both.

Of the other falling window cases, 19 were sliding windows and five were of other window types such as louvre windows.

For sliding windows, it was usually the lack of angled strips or stoppers that caused the window to fall out of its frame, as panels slipped out of their sliding tracks.

"Such window panels detached and fell when home owners applied excessive outward force in opening or closing the windows," said the authorities.

The BCA and HDB said home owners should do simple checks and oiling of moving parts every six months, and contact approved window contractors to replace parts when necessary.

More tips on window checks can be found at

Since 2006, 352 people have been fined and 92 people prosecuted for windows that fell.

Several home owners not aware of the law requiring them to regularly check their windows were surprised by the severity of the penalties for not doing so.

Mr Yap Yong Soon, a 42-year-old businessmen and home owner, was concerned that the penalties were harsh, considering many home owners are not trained to know what to look out for when it comes to windows.

"I think they should only be penalised if they have deliberately not followed the rules," he said, adding that the authorities could visit residents with window contractors to help educate and inform them about the window rules.

Facebook user Alicia Ku added that many people would not even know what a window rivet looks like, and wrote that HDB could send certified inspectors to flats - such as older flats for a start - to help check on the condition of windows.

Ms Ku suggested that it would only be "right and fair to charge the owner for being negligent" after he chooses not to do anything about his windows following such inspections.

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