Balustrades and Certifications
Balustrades can be built from a variety of materials including brick, concrete casting, glass, timber, steel, aluminium and any material that is reasonably strong enough to prevent humans from falling over and is strong enough to withstand human impact.
Essentially, a Balustrade is a safety device and is generally used on staircases, patios, balconies and other terraced surfaces. The idea is to prevent people especially kids from falling over. Obviously therefore, there is a need for balustrade certification least people get injured or worse due to improper use of material or faulty balustrade construction.
The balustrade certifications specify a set of minimum standards. For example, the minimum height specified for balustrade is 1 meter. That does not prevent you from building one that is 1.5 m tall or a balustrade that is stronger than that mentioned in the safety specifications.
Balustrade safety standards and certifications for Australia are covered in BCA regulations i.e. Building Code of Australia. The specific sections that cover it are 188.8.131.52 of the BCA, which are:
- The height must not be less than 0.865 m above the nosings of the stair treads or the floor of a ramp.
- The height must not be less than 1m above the floor of any access path, balcony, landing or the like
- The height must not be less than 865mm above the floor beneath a window.
- Openings shall not permit a 125mm sphere to pass through the balustrade or other barrier (For stairs this is tested above the nosing line)
- When protecting a fall of 4m or more there shall be no horizontal elements within the balustrade or other barrier between 150mm & 760mm above the floor level that would facilitate climbing.
These are general safety specifications. Where glass is used as a balustrade material, the safety factors relating to used of glass is covered in Australian Standard AS1288-2006 (AS1288). These standards specify the procedures for the type of glass you can use and how it is to be installed. It specifies the minimal safety features that are required.
Balustrade certifications also apply to handrails. In particular it covers how and where handrails should be installed and the material that can be used in the installation of handrails.
Australian law requires that anyone installing a balustrade with or without a handrail must comply with BCA rules and must upon completion, provide a certification mentioning:
- Date and address of the property where the balustrade was installed
- Credentials of the individual or company installing the balustrade
- Whether it was a deemed compliance (using materials that meet BCA standards) or an engineered solution
- Must state the clauses and section under which the installed balustrade complies with the BCA regulations.
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