Every staircase at the workplace is required to meet safety regulations. You should know these requirements before having a new staircase installed in your company.
The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) is the main governing body that regulates all building work in the country. It published the National Construction Code (NCC), which contains the 2-part series Building Code of Australia (BCA).
The BCA contains sets of requirements for the planning and building of new structures and building works in currently used facilities in Australia. The design and construction of the new building must be sustainable and safe.
Knowing all of this, you might’ve observed that compliance with building codes in Australia has a complex organizational structure. This should explain the importance of fulfillment of the requirements mentioned in the building codes.
Before you start construction, here’s a quick look at the BCA requirements of new stairs in a commercial facility:
Understanding the Building Codes
The BCA has two volumes. The first volume contains design and construction requirements for commercial buildings, which are classified as Class 2-9 Buildings. The second volume is for residential buildings, which are under Class 1 and 10 Buildings.
To design and construct a staircase at your company, all requirements can be found in Volume 1, Section 3.9.1. You will also be required to install a balustrade or handrails, and the requirements for this are contained in Volume 1, Section 3.9.2.
If you need to install stairs in storage rooms, other areas not commonly used within your facilities, or other places not mentioned in the BCA, refer to the Australian Standard AS1657, Section 4. Before going through the requirements, familiarize yourself with a few terms that you’ll come across often in the codes. These terms include:
The “tread” or step and the “riser” that holds up each step form the “flight.” “Going” is the width of a steap. It is measured by getting the horizontal dimension of a step from front to back. Finally, there is the “landing.” It is the flat space between two flights or the area on both the top and bottom of a flight.
Based on the general requirements, a staircase must have barriers, sufficient headroom, sufficient width, landings, and handrails. Barriers are required if a staircase has an open side that leads to more than 1,000 mm drop. The headroom should have sufficient space to avoid people from bumping their heads while using the stairs. The riser and tread should also have enough width to keep people safe when using the stairs.
Landings should also be provided so that people can have a place to rest. It’s also useful when someone falls from the stairs; it minimizes injury by breaking a fall. Handrails, on the other hand, help and guide people up and down the stairs. However, both landings and bars are not required in production areas, plant rooms, and equipment rooms.
To get the full details of the requirements for staircase design and construction, download your copy of the NCC. The ABCB doesn’t provide hard copies of the codes, but they do give away free soft copies through their website.