In order to uphold the principles of inclusivity and equal access for all, regardless of age, gender, or disability, it is imperative that buildings prioritize the installation of accessible handrails.
This article will explore the specific design considerations necessary to ensure accessibility for individuals with physical mobility challenges, with a particular focus on the importance of handrails in aiding those who struggle with walking.
Many individuals, particularly the elderly, face mobility difficulties without requiring the use of a wheelchair. These individuals often rely on walking aids such as canes or walking sticks, making accessible handrails a crucial feature within buildings. Additionally, healthcare facilities must consider the needs of patients recovering from illnesses or surgeries, who may experience instability while walking and heavily rely on handrails for support during their early stages of recovery.
By incorporating accessible handrails, individuals with limited mobility can navigate buildings safely and without the risk of accidents or injuries.
Relevant legislation: ensuring compliance for accessible handrails
To ensure that handrails meet the necessary standards, it is essential to adhere to relevant legislation. The Equality Act mandates that buildings must be accessible to all individuals, regardless of disability, age, or gender. Additionally, specific guidelines such as BS 8300, Approved Document M, and HBN 00-04 provide detailed instructions on handrail specifications, measurements, and usage recommendations.
According to the legislation, accessible handrails should possess the following characteristics:
– They should be designed to be easily and comfortably gripped, without any sharp edges.
– Handrails must provide adequate resistance to prevent hand slippage.
– The handrail should be continuously graspable along its entire length, without any obstructions.
– The finish of the handrail should provide visual contrast with the surrounding environment, with a recommended difference in Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of 30 points or more between the handrail and its surroundings.
– Accessible handrails must be strong enough to support users and securely fixed to withstand the required loading. It is recommended to fix handrail brackets into stud work or pattresses, especially when utilizing plasterboard wall construction.
– To minimize the risk of injury, handrails should be terminated in a manner that reduces the likelihood of clothing or carried objects becoming caught. Return-to-wall end caps are highly recommended for this purpose.
– In locations where extreme temperatures are a concern, accessible handrails should be constructed from materials that do not become excessively hot or cold to the touch.
– For areas with heavy foot traffic or potential impact damage from mobile equipment, it is advisable to consider installing crash protection in addition to accessible handrails.
By adhering to these guidelines and legislation, buildings can ensure that their accessible handrails not only fulfil their functional purpose but also prioritize the safety and accessibility of all individuals.
We offer DDA handrail systems for people with disabilities
Kee Klamp® fittings were specifically designed to construct a smooth, continuous handrail which adheres to the DDA’s guidelines for a Disability Handrail System.
The Kee Klamp® fittings can be powder coated to any RAL colour, providing a visual contrast for aesthetic purposes, and vastly reduce cold temperatures so they are not cold to touch. A disability handrail must be powder-coated to fully meet DDA requirements.
- The Equality Act 2010 (incorporating the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) – View Document
- BS 8300-2:2018 Design of an Accessible and Inclusive Built Environment Part 2: Buildings Code of Practice – View Document
- Building Regulations Approved Document M: Access to and Use of Buildings – View Document
- Health Building Note 00-04 – View Document
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