How structures around the world are using safety handrails for outdoor steps
Oftentimes a handrail can make or break a public space. Industrial spaces don't always need stylistic features but there may be instances when the surrounding architecture calls for a more creative approach. Safety is the number one priority for handrails and barriers, and this article will explore how to incorporate both into your next project.
Do you need a handrail?
Australian Standards affirm that you do need a handrail or balustrade in most cases depending on the structure. To minimise any slips, falls or accidents, and ensure the safety of workers, landings, platforms and stairways need to comply with Australian Standard 1657 and AS 1170.1. AS 1657 relates to indoor handrail applications such as machinery rooms whereas AS 1170.1 refers to areas where the general public has access to the stairway.
Unless your facility has frequent visitors, industrial spaces will likely build structures in compliance with AS 1657 which assumes workers are trained professionals that understand the risks of working in an industrial plant.
According to the AS policy, a stairway should have a handrail in all instances where there are at least four treads and three risers unless there is another structure within 100mm. You must include a handrail on both sides of the stair if it is 1,000m or more. The minimum stair handrail height in Australia must be 865mm. Height is measured from the nosing or the edge of the tread that protrudes out and is noticeably different from the rest of the tread.
Safety precautions a handrail serves
While handrails can add another element of style for more public spaces, they are primarily used for safety reasons. A few examples for why your building needs a handrail (outside of staying compliant with the building code) include:
- Creating stability as people walk up the stairs.
Providing a sense of safety in case of a slip.
Offering additional steadiness for the elderly, children or disabled pedestrians.
Increasing safety during inclement weather.
Extending some peace of mind for pedestrians who suffer from vertigo or fear of heights.
Overall, a handrail can offer a greater feeling of safely travelling up and down a flight of stairs.
Future-proofing your handrail
Setting up your stairway handrail for success includes following the policies set in place to protect workers and pedestrians as well as selecting a metal material that makes sense for its intended use.
The first step in creating a successful handrail is ensuring that the dimensions of the stair rail are compliant with Australian Standards that are relevant to your facility. The most recent revision for AS 1657 was in 2018 to clear up certain languages and revise specific laws. Stay up to date and work with a professional industrial stair railing installer to guarantee you are setting up your staircase rail to be compliant.
Choosing the right material can help you cut down on maintenance costs and ensure your hand railing functions properly for years to come. Where many residential and some commercial spaces can use timber, industrial worksites require metal handrails because of their higher use volume.
Metal types like stainless steel or aluminium vary in mailability, resistance to weather and chemicals and price. We use Monowills Barrier and Stanchion Systems to ensure no matter the material you choose, you can count on its quality and reliability. Depending on the application, we provide recommendations for style and material, from fittings to handrail bracket sizes, that will ensure optimal safety and longevity — all within AS regulation.
What a handrail can do for a space
Home decorators around the world are using industrial-inspired handrails to add a bit of rustic flair to living spaces. Canal noted that exposed metal was the top tread of 2021 for staircase handrails. While it isn't always possible for actual worksites, there is an opportunity to make a handrail both functionally safe and aesthetically attractive in reference to the surrounding area. Take, for example, Arch Daily's October 2021 feature of several structures with stylistic handrails in spaces that are not exclusively residential.
Contemporary handrails with an industrial style are often minimalistic, solid coloured and accent the staircase or walkway in some way. Handrail kits that include ball stanchions are a popular option for homes that are already heavily used in industrial or commercial applications. The difference between how homes and industrial spaces are utilising the accent handrail can simply come down to the colour they choose. If your project needs to appear more seamless with the rest of the surrounding architecture, choosing a coating or paint for the handrail can help. This coating also doubles and another barrier to wear and tear — cutting maintenance costs.
If you're looking for a handrail manufacturer for your next project, Webforge is ready to help. We provide handrail kits and customised sets that are compliant and trusted. Each component is carefully selected to ensure the best quality. If you're ready to get started, reach out to a Webforge professional today.