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Ensuring Staircase Safety in New Developments: A Guide to Australian Building Code Compliance

Staircases are an integral part of any multi-story building, and ensuring their safety is of paramount importance. In Australia, the building code sets out specific guidelines to guarantee the safety and well-being of occupants in new developments.

This blog post aims to highlight key considerations and requirements outlined by the Australian Building Code concerning staircases in new constructions, emphasizing the importance of adherence to these regulations.

1. Treads, Risers, and Nosing

Proper design and construction of treads, risers, and nosing are essential for safe and comfortable stair navigation. Here are some key considerations:

Tread Dimensions

Slip-Resistant Stair Treads
Swiss GriP Safety Floor Coating as non-slip stair tread nosing

Tread depth and riser height must be consistent throughout the entire staircase. The Australian building code prescribes a maximum riser height of 190mm and a minimum tread depth of 240mm, with no nosing required.

Slip Resistance

Stairs should be designed with slip-resistant surfaces to minimize the risk of accidents. Indoor stair cases require a P3 slip-rating conform AS 4586-2013, whereas outdoor staircases require a P4 slip-rating. Recently, building conveyers have become very strict in enforcing slip-resistance as many flooring materials cannot provide independent slip tests. Using a transparent coating like Swiss GriP Non-Slip can solve this issue.

Stair Nosing

According to AS1428.1, Australian Standard Design for Access and Mobility Part 1, stair nosing is required for access across all new buildings. Nosing should be clearly visible to prevent trips and therefore a visual contrast of at least 30% to the substrate is required. Furthermore, the strip should be 50mm wide (max. 75mm). There also needs to be a 50mm gap between the wall and the nosing strip on the tread.

2. Handrails and Balustrades

Handrails and balustrades play a crucial role in providing support and preventing falls on staircases. The Australian building code mandates the installation of sturdy handrails and balustrades to ensure occupant safety. Here are some essential considerations:

Height and Position

Handrails should be installed at a height of between 865mm and 1,000mm, measured vertically from the pitch line or the nosing of the treads. Balustrades should be positioned at a height of at least 1,000mm above the floor, landing, or ramp.

Strength and Durability

Handrails and balustrades must be capable of withstanding reasonable force and provide a secure grip. They should be constructed using materials that are robust, durable, and resistant to decay.

Openings and Gaps

Openings in balustrades, such as between posts, should be designed to prevent the passage of a 125mm sphere. This ensures the safety of children and prevents them from getting trapped.

3. Lighting and Visibility

Adequate lighting and visibility play a crucial role in reducing accidents and ensuring the safety of staircase users. Consider the following factors:

Lighting Levels

Staircases should be well-lit to provide sufficient illumination throughout. Lighting levels should be consistent, avoiding dark areas that may impede visibility. Emergency lighting systems should also be installed to provide illumination during power failures.

Glare Reduction

Proper lighting design should also minimize glare to ensure occupants can navigate the stairs comfortably without visual discomfort or impairment.

4. Accessibility Considerations

Creating inclusive environments is a crucial aspect of building design. When constructing staircases in new developments, consider the following accessibility requirements:

Handrail Continuity

Handrails should be continuous along the entire flight of stairs, including landings and ramps, to ensure accessibility for individuals with mobility impairments.

Step Dimensions

Pay attention to step dimensions, ensuring that they are uniform and suitable for individuals with disabilities. Incorporating shallow risers and wider treads can enhance accessibility.

Tactile Indicators: Install tactile indicators at the top and bottom of staircases to assist individuals with vision impairments in identifying the presence and location of stairs

Slip-Resistant Stair Cases

Recently, building conveyers have become much stricter in ensuring stair treads comply with the slip-resistance requirements per AS 4586-2013. Many substrates are not complaint or lack independent slip test reports to prove suitability.

What are the requirements for staircases and slip-resistance?

ApplicationDry surface conditionsWet surface conditions
Ramp not steeper than 1:8P4 or R10P5 or R12
Tread surfaceP3 or R10P4 or R11
Nosing or landing edge stripP3P4
Slip Resistance Requirements for Ramps and Stairs

How do I make stair cases slip-resistant?

Often, builders will only find out the staircases in a new build are not compliant with slip-resistance standards once they are already in place. This creates a dilemma because building conveyors will not sign off without compliance.

Swiss GriP Non-Slip provides several solutions to make stair cases complaint. Our CSIRO-certificates will assure the conveyor will approve the safety compliance.

Swiss GriP Non-Slip Transparent

Swiss GriP Non-Slip Transparent is the leading non-slip coating in Australia. The Swiss-made coating is available in a P3, P4 or P5 slip-rating, allowing any surface to become compliant. Because Swiss GriP is a coating it does not etch into the surface and its transparency means no compromise on aesthetics.

Swiss GriP Non-Slip P3 Range

Swiss GriP Safety Floor Coating – Stair Tread Coating

The Swiss GriP Stair Nosing Coating is an innovative coating to create visually contrasting strips on stair treads. It is available in various colours including black, yellow and white and comes with a P4/R12 slip-rating. Contrary to metal stair nosing strips, the coating does not require drilling or glue. Furthermore, metal stair nosing strips often cause water to pool at the treads causing slipping risks and efflorescence.

Swiss GriP Aqua Floorline – Concrete Floor Coating

Swiss GriP Aqua Floorline is a revolutionary, water-based, VOC-Free concrete floor coating. It is available in a range of colours and it’s outstanding chemical and mechanical resistance creates a durable seal on any concrete surface including stairs. Moreover, it comes with a P2, P3, P4 or P5 slip-rating. Use in combination with a different colour our Swiss GriP safety Floor Coating for create stair nosing strips.