Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit (QISU) Director, Dr Ruth Barker, said falls usually happen when a child climbs over or falls through a balustrade. Children can also topple from furniture placed on balconies.
Building codes have been changed over the years to reduce this risk. While the changes are not retrospective, older buildings can be altered to lower the risk of severe injury.
There are simple solutions, such as fitting materials to reduce balustrade gaps to 12.5cm and minimising opportunities for small children to climb or fall through balcony railings.
Dr Barker said that a two year-old boy nearly fell from the eighth floor balcony of a rented riverside apartment recently. The one-metre high balustrade had a concrete ledge 30cm off the ground.
“The child was being supervised on the balcony but he managed to get a foot up onto the ledge,” Dr Barker said.
“Thankfully, the child’s father caught him just in time.”
Dr Barker said there were three sliding doors from the apartment onto the balcony. None had child-resistant locks, so it was difficult for the parents to restrict child access.
In this case the property manager or lessor could fit materials to cover the lower part of the balustrade and child-resistant locks could be added to the sliding doors.
Source : RTA Newsletter (December 2011/January 2012)