Balustrades and barriers need to be designed to protect persons from falling from height. Every balustrade must be engineered, manufactured and installed to withstand forces that could be applied by persons using the balconies or protected areas with calculations to support the design. Other forces also need to be considered when designing the balustrade, such as wind loads. When these loads are applied, the deflection or movement of the balustrade is measured to check whether it complies with the maximum allowable deflection.
A load can be defined as a force, weight or pressure applied to the balustrade by someone or something.
Balustrades must be designed for strength and safety requirements and the forces or loads are measured in kN/m (kilo Newtons per Metre). 1.0kN/m is the equivalent of a force of 100kg applied over a length of 1m at the regulation height of the balustrade, which in most cases is 1100mm from finished floor level.
Three different load situations need to be considered to ensure compliance with regulations.
The most common loads that are used in designing balustrades are as follows:
Balustrade load testing is carried out to simulate live site conditions, giving practical and visual assurance of the safety of a balustrade. This testing is usually completed by independent test consultants under controlled conditions, resulting in the balustrade being certified to comply with the load requirements.