Blind Cords and Chains
Cords and chains for operating window blinds and corded curtain tracks that can form a loop present a hazard for young children and vulnerable adults. Cords might look harmless, but toddlers, for example, are prone to becoming entangled and unable to free themselves. This can be deadly if caught around the neck and has led to deaths, which is why a safety standard was introduced in 2014 meaning that new blinds must be designed with safety as a priority or supplied with appropriate safety devices.
Here at Enviroscreen we are making a commitment to guide our clients to achieve the best, compliant solution and increase your awareness to support the current campaigns and change in legislation which increase safety standards with all installations of window blinds. We are committed to ensuring that all of our solar shading options fully comply with the revised European Standard EN 13120 and we can provide a FREE no-obligation quotation to retro-fit chain tidies to your existing blinds in order to ensure that all blinds are safe.
We are also specialists in a number of alternative operation methods for cords and chains, thereby eliminating the risks completely.
Preventing Blind Cord Accidents
To prevent blind cord accidents, the safest thing to do is to fit a blind that does not have looped cords, this is especially important where children might be present. If an existing blind is operated by a looped cord or chain, we do not recommend that these are simply cut as they can become entangled and easily form a new loop. Chain tidies can be fitted to alleviate the danger, and these would need to be fitted well out of the reach of children, preferably by a professional installer. Other chain safety devices are; Chain breaks which join the control chain together and separate under certain load, using this device allows control chains to be longer and hang free where required but are not suitable for large roller blinds and require more maintenance. Chain breakaway devices can be fitted which separate from the blind under certain load, again allowing the control chains to be longer and hang free, these also require more maintenance and unless integrated with the blind are larger in appearance and not so aesthetically pleasing.
All types of blinds are covered within the safety standards including roller blinds, venetian, vertical, pleated, honeycomb, roman and cord operated curtain tracks. A safety device should be installed at the point of installation or an alternative method of controlling the blinds would be the safest option. There is also a maximum cord length imposed and all blinds should carry safety warnings.
Do the Regulations Apply to Rental Properties?
This applies to anyone fitting a blind including DIY, especially applying to landlords and letting agents as rental properties should absolutely meet the regulations for safety. Interior designers should also be aware of this if they plan to include blinds in their designs. Buildings that are applicable are all residential properties and homes as well as those that are publicly accessible: schools, hospitals, waiting rooms, health centres, dental practices, reception areas in commercial buildings and anywhere, where children or vulnerable adults may be present.
Organisations involved in introducing these standards are the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), British Standards Institute (BSI), the UK Government and the EU.
In summary, the regulations expect:
- Safety devices to prevent cords or chains from forming a hazard
- Testing of all safety items of internal blinds
- Testing of blinds using safety devices
- Installation of safety devices on all blinds when installed
- Warnings and instructions in packaging at point-of-sale
- Maximum cord and chain lengths – must end a minimum of 1.5 metres above the finished floor level with chain tidy fitted unless a chain break or other chain breakaway device is fitted
Operation Types for Blinds
There are several ways to operate blinds as an alternative to chain or cords. Crank handle, wand or electric operation are the most suitable solutions. Crank handles are great for operating large blinds or blinds out of reach and can be removed and stored out of the way to restrict users if required.
Electric operation is becoming very popular in commercial buildings and even at home, especially where restriction of control is required. Blinds can be operated via a switch, handheld remote, home automation control (including from your phone), or full building control systems. Expert advice is recommended for electric operation.
Fabrics Made from Sustainable Sources to Protect the Environment
Enviroscreen Systems LLP are naturally keen to protect the environment and have a range of fabrics including reflective and flame-retardant fabrics, that are environmentally friendly and manufactured from sustainable sources. PVC free and manufactured from plants, these fabrics have a cradle to cradle gold award and will significantly help your building contribute to BREEAM requirements.
Fabric Properties to Meet Regulations
Other health and safety measures for blinds and internal solar shading are applied to the fabric itself during manufacture. Mainly to prevent the spread of bacteria, protection from ultraviolet radiation and flame resistance.
Solar Protective Fabrics
Heat gain from the sun, contributing to building over-heating is a major issue in existing modern buildings, in particular, high-rise office and residential developments. There are many fabrics available with varying solar reflection properties. Enviroscreen Systems have some fabrics with very high reflectance values in their Envirotech® range, with up to 83% reflectance value. Selecting the right fabric is a significant consideration in contributing to BREEAM requirements for any building being refurbished or newly constructed. Reducing buildings carbon footprint, air conditioning running costs and the buildings impact on the environment etc.
The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) displays how much solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is reduced when passing through the blind or curtain. The higher the UPF value, the lower the UVR penetration and the better the protection. Some of these values are referred to diversely by different manufactures and anyone selecting a fabric needs to clarify what the value represents before selecting. The British Standard BS EN 13758 describes the classification and regulations for sun-protective fabrics. Although not a necessity for solar shading in buildings, UVR is strongly linked to the induction of skin cancers, eye disorders and suppression of the immune system, so fitting blinds with a high UPF factor is a small price to pay for lower exposure.
Anti-bacterial technology is effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria including E. coli, MRSA, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria. Some treatments are proven to resist harmful bacteria by up to 99.9% and still stay effective after many washes. It is quite commonplace for blinds and curtains to develop stains and bad odours and washing alone is not always effective at eliminating bacteria. Protecting the fibres with this type of coating will help with durability and aesthetics as well as being antimicrobial and inhibit the growth of stain and odour-causing microorganisms. Essential for schools, hospitals, dental practices, nurseries and care homes as they assist in maintaining a more sterile and infection free environment.
Fire Retardant Fabrics
All blinds and curtains installed in public buildings must be manufactured using fire retardant fabrics or those that are not inherently resistant to ignition may be chemically treated so that they comply to British Standards BS 5867.
Solar shading that has been treated in this way are described as “FR-treated” which is intended to improve resistance to ignition and also reduce the rate at which a flame will spread across the surface.
There are two types of the British Standard for fire retardant treatments:
- Type B is for hotels, public buildings and offices and the fabric passes the test if the flame does not reach any edges of the fabric and no burning debris falls from the fabric
- Type C is the code for healthcare environments. The same criteria applies, but the after flame and afterglow should not exceed 2.5 seconds
There is also a requirement to ensure that the treatment is retained during the life of the fabric, including throughout the laundering process. There are various treatments:
1) Non-durable treatment to fabric is sometimes used but can become ineffective over time or if fabrics gets wet. If this is the case fabric will need to be cleaned to a specified standard and retreated.
2) Durable treatment will sustain a certain number of specified washes before it needs retreating.
3) Inherently flame-retardant fabrics are fabrics that are naturally flame retardant and can be cleaned through specified washing processes unlimited times without losing its flame-retardant standard. This type of fabric is used in healthcare, care homes, hospitality and education environments to enable regular washing. Some of these fabrics can be washed to over 71°C thermal disinfection temperature required in healthcare environments to assist in infection control.
International Maritime Organization (IMO) Certification
The IMO is an agency within the United Nations that maintains a regulatory framework for shipping and maritime safety. They have a set of international treaties known as the International Code for Fire Safety Systems (FSS Code), which is IMO 2010 FTP Code Annex 1 Part 7 Test for Vertically Supported Textiles. These are regulations that marine industries must pass to be certified.
Cruise ships and commercial yachts must abide by these regulations and set minimum safety standards in the construction, equipment and operation of these ships. A fire test procedure is employed for fabrics to evaluate the flammability in order to enhance the fire safety provisions on board. These fabrics must comply with standards required for use by the U.S. Coast Guard, Canada and Europe. The IMO Certification is a prestigious fire safety certification earned by certain textile manufacturers.
Even though the IMO Certification is intended for commercial ships, it is still best practice to use these fabrics in blinds, drapes, curtains and shower curtains for personal boats and yachts as well.
Enviroscreen are London’s most experienced and competent solar shading and window furnishing contractor with over 25 years of experience. We will help you choose the best solar shading options available that give you effective control of lighting gain, coupled with durability for any demanding environments and safety from bacteria, ultraviolet radiation and fire.