There’s no denying balconies and balustrades look great. They can also act as an important safety barrier. But ill-thought through, fitted incorrectly, or poorly maintained and they can be an accident waiting to happen.
Being aware of the dangers, making smart design choices, and ensuring regulations are fully met can go a long way to safeguarding your enjoyment of these attractive features.
To help raise awareness, and keep you safe, here the experts at Square 1 Balustrades cover a few of the basics.
In the UK alone there are estimated to be over 500 deaths and around 250,000 non-fatal accidents from stair related incidents – highlighting the importance of quality balustrades as a safety feature.
By definition, balustrades and balconies are intended to prevent falls from a raised platform but that doesn’t mean accidents can’t still happen. Typically, injuries occur from falls or accidentally trapping part of the body, so making the right choice on the type of balustrade for your property is crucial to ensure safety. What’s right for a contemporary bachelor pad versus the best choice for a family home, is likely to be completely different.
How to maximise safety
With so many options on the market – wood, glass, steel – choosing balustrades can seem a little daunting. But following a few basic guidelines, can help to guarantee safety.
· Safety glass
If you like the idea of glass balustrades, great! But make sure you’re using toughened safety glass. Not only does this make the glass much stronger than regular glass it also ‘breaks safely’. By this we mean it shatters into small, less hazardous pieces rather than large, jagged shards which have the potential to cause more serious harm.
There are strict legal requirements when it comes to the height of balconies or balustrades and it’s important to always check the latest requirements.
Current regulations specify that internal balustrades should be a minimum of 0.9m. This increases to 1.1m for external balustrades and balconies.
· Fit for purpose
This is twofold. First is the design that you choose. For example, a wire rope balustrade system won’t provide enough protection for a home with a young family, as children could easily crawl between the wires. Instead, a frameless glass balustrade – with no gaps at all – is likely to be a preferable, safer, option.
The other aspect of ensuring balustrades and balconies are fit for purpose is ensuring they are built to withstand the weight they will be subjected to. For domestic use, they must be able to withstand 0.36kN/m – 0.74kN/m externally. In public areas such as bars and restaurants this increases to 1.5kN/m and areas with heavier traffic, such as shopping centres, must be able to withstand 3.0kN/m.
Industry regulations are regularly updated. It is crucial to check you are following the very latest guidance to ensure you are adhering to regulations and benefiting from maximum safety.
Safety checks – what to look for
To ensure the ongoing safety of your balcony and balustrades, it’s important to carry out regular checks.
Things to look out for include:
- Toughened glass is designed to be incredibly tough and strong. But it’s not invincible and any damage could compromise its strength, so it’s important to make regular checks.
- Handrails should be firmly fixed, if there are signs of movement it’s time to tighten things back up.
- Ensure there are no missing screws or fixings and that all brackets are intact.
Contact Square 1 Balustrades today
Safety should always come first but by working with experts – such as the team here at Square 1 Balustrades – it won’t mean you have to sacrifice style.
Our experienced team is on hand to help with all stages of your project from initial advice, guidance, and design, right through to supply and completion. Why not get in touch with the team today? We’ll happily talk through any safety concerns you may have and offer our expert opinion on the right balustrade system for you.