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Building Regulations for Balustrades, Handrails & Stairs in Australia (1)

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Building Regulations for Balustrades, Handrails & Stairs in Australia (1)

Balustrades, Handrails & Stairs

A balustrade is a vertical upstand which protects users of a building next to a vertical displacement between horizontal building surfaces or on the side of a stair.

Balustrades, Handrails & Stairs

Balustrading is required to comply with the BCA and be stiff enough to withstand exerted pressure. Balustrade may have a handrail over. The Building Code of Australia Parts 3.9.1 and 3.9.2, Volume 2 and Australian Standard 1170.1 are written to ensure building that enables people to move safely between different levels of the building using stairs or ramps.

To prevent people from falling, a continuous balustrade or barrier must be provided alongside any stairway or ramp, any floor, corridor, hallway, balcony, verandah, mezzanine or path of access to a building if it is not bounded by a wall or any level more than 1 m above adjoining floor or finished ground level. It is important to note that the measurement of the height of the balustrade or barrier is from the finished floor surface. Finishes such as ceramic tiles and even carpet can make a significant difference to the finished floor height.

The height of a Balustrade or Barrier must not be less than:

  • 1m above the floor of any access path, balcony, landing where it is not bounded by a wall and its level above the surface is 1m or more than 4m where a person is able to fall through an open window

  • 865mm above the floor of a landing to a stair or ramp where the balustrade or other barrier is provided along the inside edge of the landing and is not more than 500mm long.>

A transition zone may be incorporated where the balustrade or barrier height changes from 865mm on the stair flight or ramp to 1m at the landing.

To comply with requirements of Acceptable Construction Practice, stairs should not have:

  • more than 18 risers in a flight of steps to ensure that people negotiate a limited number of steps before a landing is installed so they can rest

  • more than 3 winders in a ¼ landing where the going of the winders to either ¼ or ½ landings may differ from the remainder of the flight however they must be consistent with the landing and not varied individually:

  • a riser opening greater than 125mm

  • a going less than 240mm for a straight flight of steps.

The maximum gradient of a ramp should not exceed 1:8  and the floor surface must be non-slip.

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