According to the Office for Disability Issues and Department for Work and Pensions there are over 11 million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability in Great Britain.
Disabled people contribute over £80 billion a year to the UK economy and account for up to 20% of the customer base for UK businesses, making it essential to have the correct facilities in place.
Under the terms of the Equality Act 2010, reasonable adjustments need to be made to commercial and public buildings to overcome physical barriers which prevent disabled access. One way to achieve this is to provide suitable handrails on external stairways as recommended in Part M of the Building Regulations.
DDA Handrail Requirements
Handrails should be provided to provide a safe means of access for all, particularly those who find it difficult to negotiate changes of level.
For wide flight of steps, handrails should be used to divide the flight into channels. On flights of steps wider than 1800mm, it is recommended that handrails are used to divide the flight into channels between 1000 and 1800mm. If the flight of steps consists of two or more risers, then a continuous handrail should be provided on either side. Where the stairway consists of two or more flights separated by landings, where possible handrails should be continuous throughout the series of the flight.
DDA Handrail Height
Handrails must be between 900mm and 1.1m in height and should extend the width of one stair tread and then level out for at least 300mm.
Consideration should also be given to children or those who are short of stature through the provision of a second, lower handrail set at 600mm.
DDA Handrail Design
In addition to the above requirements, handrails should also:
- a continuous smooth surface and not cold to touch
- be circular or oval for ease of grip. Ideally circular handrails should have a diameter of between 40 and 45mm while oval ones should have a width of 50mm
- contrast visually with its surroundings without being highly reflective
- terminate the system in a way which reduces the risk of clothing being caught
DDA Access is Kee
Given the requirements of the Equality Act and Building Regulations, and the number of people who require access to commercial and public buildings, companies should aim to create a handrail system which children, the elderly, the disabled and even able-bodied adults can benefit from.
Outlined here are just a few considerations when it comes to handrail systems for external stairs, for further information and details of other applications, please see our Guide to DDA Compliant Handrails.