Ensuring Windows Safety – First in the world approach
Building and Construction Authority

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is an agency under the Ministry of National Development, championing the development of an excellent built environment for Singapore. One of BCA’s strategic thrust is to have a safe and high quality built environment by ensuring high safety standards and promoting quality excellence in the built environment. Due to Singapore’s high-rise environment, BCA recognized the importance of ensuring the safety of windows. BCA found that the key contributing factor that caused casement windows to fall was the failure of aluminium rivets commonly used to attach the casement window panel to the window frame. Aluminium rivets are prone to corrosion over time, which resulted in its failure. Furthermore, due to a lack of maintenance culture amongst homeowners, corroded aluminium rivets were not detected early and replaced which often results in fallen windows.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Legislating For Windows Safety - To prevent fallen windows caused by failure of aluminium rivets, BCA took decisively steps and passed a law which require all aluminium rivets in casement windows to be replaced by stainless steel rivets or screws. This legislation known as the (Retrofitting of Casement Windows) Order made effective from 1 October 2004 also requires homeowners to engage an approved window contractor to undertake any repair or installation of windows. The retrofitting of casement windows applies to residential buildings only (excluding bungalows, semi-detached/terrace/linked houses). The aim of the Retrofitting Order is to address the problems posed by failure of aluminium rivets. Window Safety Campaign - In addition to legislation, BCA embarked on an island-wide Window Safety Campaign (in 2009) to remind homeowners on the need to replace their aluminium rivets and to practise window safety. BCA also earmarked the 6th of June and 12th of December each year (6/6, 12/12) as “Window Safety Days” in Singapore. The “6/6” and “12/12” concept is developed as a catchy way to encourage and remind home owners and tenants to check their windows at least once every 6 months. Leveraging On Various Channels and Stakeholders - To engage the public and homeowners, BCA utilises various channels to reiterate the window safety message. Public Outreach Initiatives include:  Newspaper and radio advertisements  MRT and bus advertisements  2D standees at bus interchange  Table-top promotional stickers at coffee shops  Eco-bags  Video on window maintenance tips  Window maintenance brochures in four official languages  Media publicity through news in print, broadcast and online media (e.g. media interviews with BCA spokespersons on window safety on TV and radio)  Window safety roving exhibitions Collaboration with HDB, Town Councils and MCSTs  Poster displays at HDB blocks and private residential MCST buildings  Advisory letters to HDB blocks and private residential MCST buildings  Glass door stickers at HDB branch offices Community Outreach Programme - In 2012, BCA initiated the Window Safety Roving Exhibitions which is an outreach programme mostly held in mature HDB estates. It serves as a useful platform for homeowners to learn window maintenance tips at community events that are conveniently located near their homes. This gives BCA officers the opportunity to interact with the homeowners face to face, be on hand to clarify any queries, and also communicate the importance of window safety. Going forward, BCA plans to reach out to selected targeted groups of stakeholders like the Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) to educate them on the steps to ensure proper maintenance of windows.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
BCA is the only regulatory agency in the world to have introduced a legislation to prevent the problem of fallen windows. The Retrofitting Order requiring the owners to retrofit their windows has been effective in ensuring homeowners abide to the requirement to replace their rivets. Besides legislation, BCA also leverage on a public campaign to educate the public on window safety. An easy 3-step window checking process - Check, Clean and Change, for windows was developed. BCA conceptualised an easy-to-read pictorial guides incorporating with the 3-step window checking process and implemented it across all our publicity materials and collaterals. This consistent and simple message allows members of the public to grasp and understand the fundamentals of window maintenance. BCA also conceptualised a window display exhibition booth comprising of actual mock-ups of existing types of windows, sample of corroded fasteners and maintenance tips. The window display exhibition booth provides a good educational platform for the residents and allows them a hands-on experience to better understand how windows can be easily maintained. During roadshows, BCA officers will share window maintenance tips and carry out live demonstration with the mock-up windows to the public on ways to check and clean their windows.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
BCA has worked closely with HDB on the drafting of the Retrofitting Order and the implementation details of the legislation. BCA had subsequently worked with Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) to have the law passed for the (Retrofitting of Casement Windows) Order. In ensuring that new windows and new existing windows are safe, BCA also worked with AGC on subsequent revisions to the Building Control Act and Regulations. With the introduction of the (Retrofitting of Casement Windows) Order on 1 October 2004, homeowners are given a one-year grace period ending on 30 September 2005 to retrofit their windows. After the (Retrofitting of Casement Windows) Order, the Building Control Act/Regulations were revised to include the provision that all new windows must comply with performance and technical requirements. In addition to the requirement for homeowners to engage an approved window contractor to undertake any repair or installation of windows; the revised Building Control Act/Regulations also allows homeowners to engage an a builder for their window works. In assessing suitability of events for the outreach to community, BCA analyses and studies the trends of fallen windows based on geographical locations with consideration of the age of buildings. BCA also collaborates and link up with the Grassroots Organisations and PA for suitable events with suitable themes for the roving exhibition. In addition to that, BCA also conducts Window Safety Roving Exhibitions to existing HDB dwellers during HDB’s in-house publicity programmes.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
(Refer to Paragraphs 3 and 4 in the answer to Question 2 and Paragraphs 1, 3 and 4 in the answer to Question 4 for details.)
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
BCA has allocation of funds where bi-yearly public campaigns such 6/6 and 12/12 campaigns are budgeted for. There is also budget for the engagement of consultants to conceptualise, develop, implement and manage the publicity campaigns. The fabrication of the window panels to conduct exhibitions, window toolkits and the window collaterals given out to public are also budgeted for internally by BCA. BCA also provides the manpower from internal staff for running and manning the Window Safety Roving Exhibitions.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Since the introduction of the legislation on the retrofitting of casement windows, Window Safety Campaign and the Window Safety Roving Exhibitions, the number of fallen casement windows had decreased significantly. Arising from the Retrofitting Order exercise, the number of fallen casement windows had reduced significantly. Coupled with the combination efforts of Window Safety Campaign and the Window Safety Roving Exhibitions, the number of fallen casement windows has reduced further in 2014. BCA had conducted 10 Window Safety Exhibitions for 2012, 20 exhibitions for 2013 and at least 20 exhibitions for 2014. More than 10,000 residents in Singapore have visited the BCA window safety booth and BCA is determined to showcase the window booth to more residents in future so as to spread and convey the message of checking and maintaining their windows. * With the implementation of the Retrofitting exercise, the number of fallen casement windows fell from 112 cases in 2004 to 35 cases in 2005. As of 30 October 2014, there are 21 fallen casement windows for the year.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Internally, BCA monitors the trend of fallen windows on a monthly basis and provides regular updates to the management and the Ministry. On the public campaigns, through the consultants, surveys are conducted every year to ascertain the effectiveness of the campaigns. The results and the analysis of the survey will be used to enhance and improve the campaigns so as to reach out to more people of different segments of our society more effectively. On the Window Safety Roving Exhibition, BCA monitors feedback provided by the attendees, Grassroots Organisations and the VIPs (whom are the MPs) who attended our events, in how we can implement the exhibitions more effectively. BCA also track the number of invitations to conduct roving exhibitions from the various constituencies. In addition to that, BCA also studies the demographic patterns of the constituencies and targets the matured estates to conduct Window Safety Roving Exhibitions.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Hands-on Experience - During the Window Safety Roving Exhibitions, one of the key challenges is to attract visitors to the booth. BCA officers reached out to individual homeowners who visited the booth and shared with them the importance of window maintenance. Through face-to-face interactions and hands-on demonstrations on the mock-up windows, homeowners also had hands-on experience on checking and maintaining their windows. Do-It-Yourself – After the demonstration, the next challenge is to get homeowners to apply what they have learnt at home. To do so, homeowners can bring home a window maintenance toolkit to practise what they have learnt and share their knowledge with their friends and families. The window maintenance toolkits consist of a bottle of lubricant, a brush and an extendable mirror, which allow homeowners to put the window maintenance tips they had learnt to use at home. Additionally, BCA also distributes useful collaterals with window maintenance tips to serve as a constant reminder to homeowners on how to maintain their windows. Some marketing collaterals include tote bags, calendars, umbrellas and magnets.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
(Refer to Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 in the answer to Question 7 for details.) BCA’s key stakeholders are homeowners, especially those from mature estates where windows are likely to have undergone wear-and-tear. To educate this group of people, Window Safety Roving Exhibitions are often held in mature HDB estates, so that we can there can be more interaction between BMD officers and the homeowners. Through such engagements on the ground, BCA officers were able to understand the common problems homeowners faced in maintaining their windows, and help solve them by providing maintenance tips. It was also a good opportunity to educate homeowners, especially those who may not be aware of how to maintain their windows. The Window Safety Roving Exhibition is a useful avenue to garner public feedback, as well as to correct any misconceptions homeowners may have on window maintenance. It also allows BCA to reinforce the message that homeowners are responsible in keep our living environment safe from falling windows. This is in line with BCA’s mission statement to shape a safe built environment for Singapore. The importance of window safety affects everyone, especially those who live in high-rise buildings. Homeowners play a crucial role in ensuring that their windows are properly secured and well maintained.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Legislating For Windows Safety – To ensure that the legislation for window safety is sustainable, BCA conducts routine enforcement inspections at selected residential estates to send a strong message to all home owners that BCA takes a serious view on non-compliance with the Retrofitting Order. BCA has put in place a structured system to review appeals from homeowners who are penalised during BCA’s enforcements. BCA also attends to enquiries from the members of the public relating to window safety through the hotline and email. Community Outreach Programme - Action from each and every stakeholder makes a difference in reducing the number of fallen windows. During the window safety roving exhibitions, the residents felt that the mock-up of the windows was useful as it allowed them to see for themselves the different components of a window and the common parts that need to be regularly checked. The Grassroot Leaders and organisers also invited BCA to organise more window safety roving exhibitions in other zones within the constituency. A survey was conducted in March 2013 to gauge the awareness of window safety via an independent integrated marketing communications agency. 69% of the 307 respondents indicated that they had taken action to check their windows after seeing information on the window safety campaign.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
As that the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. If every homeowner can check and maintain their windows regularly, incidences of fallen window can be avoided. Instead of only using conventional publicity materials such as posters and pictorial guides to explain to homeowners how they can check their windows, BCA decided to provide a more interactive experience for homeowners by using an actual mock-up of sliding and casement windows to demonstrate the window maintenance tips. In addition, BCA has also developed an easy 3-step process in the four official languages to remind homeowners to check, change and clean the windows. Photographs of poorly maintained windows were also displayed at the booth at roving exhibitions to allow the homeowners to visualize what poorly maintained windows refer to. Glossary of Terms Building and Construction Authority (BCA) - the statutory board under the Ministry of National Development to develop and regulate Singapore's building and construction industry. Housing Development Board (HDB) - the statutory board of the Ministry of National Development responsible for public housing in Singapore. Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) – the name given to a management group (made up of proprietors/residents/occupiers of that property) governing any apartments, condos, etc as constituted under the Land Titles (Strata) Act (Cap 158). People’s Association (PA) - the statutory board under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth to promote racial harmony and social cohesion. Town Councils - formed in 1989 to empower local elected representatives and residents to run their own estates.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Building and Construction Authority
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Doreen Ng
Title:   SMA for Organisational Excellence  
Telephone/ Fax:   65-325-5008
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   doreen_ng@bca.gov.sg  
Address:   5 Maxwell Road #17-00 Tower Block MND Complex
Postal Code:   069110
City:   Singapore
State/Province:   Singapore
Country:  

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