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.

Balustrade load requirements

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.

  • Horizontal Uniformly Distributed Line (UDL) load: a load described above, measured in kN/m.
  • Uniformly Distributed Load applied to the infill: a force applied horizontally to the balustrade infill and is calculated as an evenly distributed force over 1 square metre of infill.
  • Point Load applied to part of the infill: a force applied to a small part of the infill at the weakest point and is measured in kN.

Common balustrade UDL requirements

The most common loads that are used in designing balustrades are as follows:

  • 0.74 kN/m: design load required when designing balustrades to areas that are not susceptible to overcrowding, such as residential balconies, office and work areas and stairs and landings.
  • 1.5 kN/m: design load used in areas where crowding may occur, such as walkways less than 3m wide, retail areas and restaurants and bars with fixed seating.
  • 3 kN/m: a crowd load requirement that would apply in all areas susceptible to overcrowding, such as walkways over 3m wide, shopping malls, cinemas and theatres and sports grandstands.

Balustrade load testing

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.

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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.

Balustrade load requirements

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.

  • Horizontal Uniformly Distributed Line (UDL) load: a load described above, measured in kN/m.
  • Uniformly Distributed Load applied to the infill: a force applied horizontally to the balustrade infill and is calculated as an evenly distributed force over 1 square metre of infill.
  • Point Load applied to part of the infill: a force applied to a small part of the infill at the weakest point and is measured in kN.

Common balustrade UDL requirements

The most common loads that are used in designing balustrades are as follows:

  • 0.74 kN/m: design load required when designing balustrades to areas that are not susceptible to overcrowding, such as residential balconies, office and work areas and stairs and landings.
  • 1.5 kN/m: design load used in areas where crowding may occur, such as walkways less than 3m wide, retail areas and restaurants and bars with fixed seating.
  • 3 kN/m: a crowd load requirement that would apply in all areas susceptible to overcrowding, such as walkways over 3m wide, shopping malls, cinemas and theatres and sports grandstands.

Balustrade load testing

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.

Click 'Visit website' opposite to see a demo


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Balustrade safety: load requirements