Balustrades are meant for safety, essentially to prevent people from falling off stairways, patios, balconies and terraces. A variety of material can be used to build a balustrade, namely concrete casting, bricks, timber, glass, aluminium, steel, etc. Since the safety of humans is involved, the material used to erect a balustrade must be strong enough to withstand impact and not collapse under pressure.
Since a balustrade is a safety structure, there is an obvious need for certification of the quality of the structure. A faulty balustrade construction or the use of improper material increases the possibility of accidents and poses risk to human life. Hence, the Building Code of Australia (BCA) sets certain standards that must be complied with while constructing a balustrade.
Balustrade certification in Australia requires that a certain minimum standard be met in terms of the height as well as the materials used in construction. According to these standards, the balustrade should be at least 1 meter in height from the finished floor surface. You can have non-slip handrails on your balustrade and openings in the balustrade if any, should not be more than 125mm. These are the minimum standards for balustrades, but you can always construct one that is stronger and taller than the minimum requirements.
Section 18.104.22.168 of BCA Regulations specifying Balustrade Safety Standards:
- Height of the balustrade must not be less than 1m from the floor of a landing, access path, balcony or any surface above ground level.
- On the nosing line of a staircase or ramp floor, the height of the balustrade must be at least 0.865m.
- The balustrade must be at least 865mm in height for a window.
- A 125mm sphere should not pass through openings in a balustrade. In case of a stairway, this is considered above the nosing line.
- If the balustrade is 4m or more in height, there should be no horizontal structure located between 150mm & 760mm above the floor level that could facilitate climbing.
The above mentioned points are general standards for the height of the balustrade. BCA also specifies the safety standards for the materials used in erecting a balustrade. For example, in case of a glass balustrade, Australian Standard AS1288-2006 (AS1288) covers the safety factors. This standard specifies the type of glass to be used for a balustrade and the procedures for installing it. In short, this standard gives you an idea of the safety features required for glass balustrades.
Handrails for balustrades must also confirm to certain minimum standards as specified in the BCA. These regulations explain how and where handrails can be placed and the material that can be used for installation.
As per the building code of Australia, anyone installing a balustrade must comply with the set rules and provide a certification upon completion of the structure. The certification must state:
- Address of the property and the date of balustrade installation.
- Credentials of the company or person installing the balustrade.
- Whether the balustrade is an engineered solution or complies with BCA standards.
- The section and clauses of compliance with BCA Regulations.
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