Safety regulations for Glass Balustrade Systems

When creating a balustrade system featuring glass panels, it is vital to take into account current safety legislation to ensure that your balustrade is not only beautiful, but completely safe for you – or the people using it – to enjoy.

This week on the blog, we’re taking a closer look at safety requirements for our bespoke balustrade systems.

Regulations: BS 6180: 1982 / 1995

Glass Balustrade Regulations

UK safety regulations for glass balustrade systems stem from BS 6180: 1982 ‘A code of practice for protective barriers in and around buildings’. The term ‘barriers’ is used to mean guards, balustrades and parapets, and the primary aim is to reduce – and ideally eliminate – the risk of falling.

The kind of barrier being erected – and the specific safety measures required – depends heavily on the type of building in which it is being installed – domestic, commercial, multi- or single-level. In buildings where there is a change of adjacent levels – 600mm in domestic properties, 380mm in other buildings – a barrier is required by law in order to restrict movement – simply put, to stop people from falling from one level to another.

Avoiding gaps in glass balustrades

gaps in glass balustrades

Where a barrier is fitted with glass panels – as with a framed balustrade system – its design should be such that people are not at risk of falling, sliding, rolling or slipping through gaps beneath or between the glass panels.

Where there are likely to be small children coming into contact with the barrier – such as in public buildings like shopping centres – there should be no gap wider than 100mm.

Adequate height for a balustrade

height of a balustrade

In areas with foot traffic, balustrade systems should be designed to minimum permissible heights, and to withstand various forms of design load, as stipulated in Building Regulations and BS 6180:1982.

The horizontal UDL (uniformly distributed load) should be applied at a notional height of 1.1m above floor level – chosen as a typical centre of gravity for an average person.

All of our bespoke balustrade systems stand at a minimum height of 1.1m; the suggested maximum height of our systems ranges from 1.2m to 1.4m.

Safety glass type used on balustrades

Safety glass type used on balustrades

Elite Balustrade creates bespoke balustrade systems featuring toughened and/or laminated glass for extra safety where required. When glass is used as part of a balustrade system, it must be capable of withstanding a range of specific design loadings as set out in BS 6180: 1982, which will ensure it is capable of withstanding a variety of impact types.
There are basically two types of reinforced glass that we use for our bespoke balustrade systems: toughened glass and laminated glass.

Toughened glass balustrades

Toughened glass balustrades

Toughened glass has been superheated to 700 degrees Celsius then cooled quickly, which creates a strong outer layer on both sides of the pane while locking tension within the core. Toughened glass is around four times more impact-resistant than regular glass. Toughened glass, if broken, has the added benefit of breaking ‘safely’ – shattering into numerous tiny pieces rather than large, sharp shards.

Laminated glass balustrades

Laminated glass balustrades

Laminated glass is made from at least two glass panels with a plastic or resin interlayer. It can be made from standard glass panes or toughened glass, for added impact resistance. The thickness and type of glass used in laminated glazing varied depending on its surface area, required impact class, surrounding framework (for example, the specification required for our framed balustrade systems will be different to that required for our frameless balustrades) and its intended use.

All of our bespoke balustrade systems are carefully designed by experts to give you a beautiful finish and complete peace of mind. Our experts will work with you to create a balustrade that complies with all relevant health and safety standards, so call us today on 01254 825 594 to find out what we can do for you.

Browse our complete range of glass balustrade systems or follow us @EliteBalustrade for more of our news and blogs.

Published: 28th November 2016

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