Child slips through railing, falls, dies

Hello all, Ted Cushman here with JLC magazine, Hanley-Wood etc.

I just picked up on this story out of Virginia Beach, VA, where a 2-year-old child slipped through a hotel balcony railing gap, fell five stories, and died. Very sad.

Death puts focus on railing gapNew safety code didn’t apply to hotel where child had fatal fall

I’ve seen some discussion on this board (older thread) about how home inspectors should write up a railing where the baluster gap is too wide for current code, but met code at the time of construction - as was the case in this latest death. Anyone have any thoughts here?

Regards - Ted

As inspectors, any stair gap over 6 inches on a stairway gets written up despite the age of the structure. Wether or not it gets repaired is another story. People should be responsible for watching children also. Are you an attorney?

Sad story.

4 inches or less or it gets written up as a safety hazard in my book.

While some would argue that it is unreasonable to have older buildings meet newer code requirements, you have to think that in some cases it really should be done.

If it’s not safe, not up to modern safe building practice, I write it up, regardless of what was accepted at time of construction.

Same here, if I can put a closed fist through it it’s over 4" and gets written up in the report.

You are correct do not miss these 4 inches If they do nothing I have covered My Bottom…Roy

4 inches is what I look for on all balusters, stair railings, etc.

Me, too! And if it is over 6" the head can usually go through as well. Write it all–let the buyer decide, but give them a good explanation.

I see no issue here as it passed code so it must have been OK since code is written by local government with total public safety and quality construction at the forefront of all officials minds appointed or voted in and no other influence comes in to play ,correct?

“For the people and by the people” ,so this is what the majority of the public must want.

Any opposing thoughts on that?

Here’s a good illustration if anyone is interested.

Death puts focus on railing gap
New safety code didn’t apply to hotel where child had fatal fall .

This proves the old saftey code took a childs Life .

Over 4 inches I write it up as a safty Hazzard .
I would perfer to save a childs life .
I would prefer to stay out of Court even though I might win ,I do not want to invest time and money to win when I could have helped Protect my self just by writting it up.

Codes are politically derived/implemented and do not represent optimum safety. At the very best, they are simply a minimum standard representing that anything less is illegal. If it can be better, write it up.

I had this same issue recently on a 4plex. I wrote up the balustrade to balustrade width as being excessive. The buyer made the seller fix before closing because he didn’t want the responsibility if one of the tenants kids got hurt or died. Sad part is 6 other buildings that had inspections by someone else didn’t get fixed.

Any Inspector that writes up a Life Hazard is doing there job 100%.

The story enclosed in first post does not give enough info to comment with accuracy.

However. Materials already in use in a building in conformance with requirements on approval in effect at the time of their erection or installation shall be permitted to remain in use unless determined by the Code Official to render the building or structure unsafe or dangerous.

Life Safety trumps everything. As an Inspector- if you see a life safety hazard-write it! up!

I would like to suggest that every Inspector here copy/paste the story to computer files to show for reference next time you get a sneer for going past local code.:wink:

I believe the old standard was 6 inches. That just tells you how old Gary is.

I see this “modern” style of guard rails advertised a lot in different magazines and on-line. Always curious how anyone gets permitted to install them.

Locally building codes govern the overall geometry; this particular project is governed by the Seattle Amendments to the International Residential Code

Yep, did not see this part of your post but let me paste this from your link anyway.

Locally building codes govern the overall geometry; this particular project is governed by the Seattle Amendments to the International Residential Code. The minimum height is 36″ (or 34” at the open side of a stair) and the maximum space between the horizontals is 4”.

open risers
greater than 4 inch,
horizontal cable
enables climbing…

flagged by some
not by many
I just note and report…
Let buy
er place their own level of importance…