New Coat Hook Technology Reduces Risk in Schools

In February, 1998, a tragic death occurred in a Southern Ontario school. While the actual sequence of events leading to the fatality are still unclear, the facts were that a student was found hanging from a coat hook in a school washroom and that he died of asphyxiation. The Coroner?s Inquest that followed made over 20 recommendations to school boards and Emergency Response Services related to this death, with the removal of coat hooks in school washrooms being one of the primary recommendations.

Since this fatality occurred, and with the shadow of a recent near-miss involving a child who was rescued after becoming entangled in coat hook in a class room, a new technology has been developed incorporating a safety release feature into the coat hook fixture. Although OSBIE does not formally endorse specific products or organizations, our policy is to promote an awareness of any new developments in safety technology that can benefit school boards by reducing risks. While no product can replace proper student supervision, the following information is provided by the manufacturer, Henkel Diversified Inc., and is shared with OSBIE members as an example of a technological solution to a risk management issue. Also included in the hardcopy distribution of this edition of the Oracle is a brochure outlining the technical specifications for this product.

After the tragic death of a public school student in 1998, many school boards responded to the Coroner?s Inquest recommendations and had taken rigid hooks out of washrooms. However, when a near tragedy occurred again in 2004 involving coat hooks left in other areas of the school, it brought home the realization that the problem had not been solved.

In addition to the fact that the problem wasn?t solved, removing coat hooks had also created other issues of personal hygiene and the practical aspect of where do children place their coats or backpacks when they use the washroom or while they are indoors during school hours? A response to these incidents, and a practical solution beyond simply removing all coat hooks was needed and after being prompted by his daughter, Becky Regier, Jim Henkel, President of Henkel Diversified Inc., had an idea that would prevent this from happening again ? a collapsible coat hook. Jim wanted to develop a product that was inexpensive, strong, vandal-resistant, tamper proof and that would release at a certain weight and then reset after being released.

The HenkelHook? has been a year in the making. His initial idea was to make a spring-loaded hook and after doing a patent search, Jim?s idea for his hook came about which did not use springs. The HenkelHook? incorporates two rare earth magnets, also called permanent magnets (imported from China), and the hook fixture is made of polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate is a high-strength plastic and is used in bullet-proof shielding, therefore, making it virtually impossible to break.

The HenkelHook? will be manufactured in London, Ontario, by Falcon Plastics and the assembly and packaging will also take place in the London area.

For more information, contact
Henkel Diversified Inc. or
telephone (519)641-5872.