Free guide to safe guarding systems to balconies and open walkways in residential building

Blog Post
Picture of a ballustrade on a staircase in a residential building

Demand for more innovative designs and improved light has increased the inclusion of balconies and elevated walkways. These are not a problem but do need consideration of guarding, especially if buildings are likely to be used by children under five.

Approved Document K2 (3.3) is quite clear on what is required. It states that horizontal rails for guarding on edges of floors are not permitted and any construction should not allow a 100mm sphere to pass through any opening in the guarding.

However, there can be an issue with construction methods that may include diagonal or intricate construction styles. Developers may plan to install guarding systems that meet height requirements and the 100mm sphere rule but forget the non-climbable requirement.

How to provide protection with balconies and open walkways

  • Avoid horizontal cable systems in any buildings that are likely to have children under the age of five years old unless you can satisfy the building control body of their safety
  • Unless you can provide suitable proof for the adequacy of the guarding system, avoid diagonal railing and intricately designed guarding where children could gain a hand or foothold
  • Provide guarding to areas where people have access, this can include both internal and external areas if they can fall more than 600mm
  • Having inwardly inclined support posts and offset horizontal rails part way up or at the full height of the system could improve safety
  • Any openings in the guarding should not permit a 100mm sphere to pass through

Find out more by reading our new technical guide to safe guarding systems to balconies and open walkways in residential buildings.


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