Safety Codes

In 2011 a revised set of South African National Standards was published. The balustrade and staircase industry was one of the many industries that was affected by these revisions. The building industry has become far more regulated and the time had come for sub-contractors and contractors to pay closer attention to the national building regulations in order to ensure that products in the building industry complied with these regulations.

SABS 0104 Edition 2 1991 – Handrailing and Balustrading (safety aspects)
SANS 10400-A: 2011 Edition 3 – NBR – General Principals and Requirements
SANS 10400-B: 2012 Edition 3 – NBR- Structural design
SANS 10400-D: 2011 Edition 3 – NBR- Public safety
SANS 10400-M: 2011 Edition 3 – NBR- Stairways
SANS 10400-N: 2010 Edition 3 – NBR- Glazing
SANS 10400-S: 2011 Edition 3 – NBR-Facilities for persons with disabilities
SANS 10400-T: 2011 Edition 3 – NBR-Fire protection
SANS 10160-2: 2011 Edition 1.1 – Self -weight and imposed loads
SANS 10160-3: 2011 Edition 1.1 – Wind actions
SANS 10137: 2011 Edition 4 – The installation of glazing in buildings
SANS 1263-1:2006 Edition 3.1 – Part 1: Safety performance of glazing materials under human impact

Yet, five years later, far too many balustrade sub-contractors continue to install balustrades that were accepted before the regulation changes and continue to put human lives at risk with unsafe installations, inferior materials and poor workmanship. Balustrade safety is not considered enough of a priority in the South African market. This illegal practice sets an uneven playing field and drives the product market prices down, making it impossible for compliant sub-contractors to be profitable. Poor to no efforts have been made to understand the new SANS regulations and there has been no accountability when projects go wrong or products fail. This is the opinion of Dave Braithwaite, Director of Steel Studio.


staircaseSteel Studio has invested years in dissecting and understanding the SANS regulations in regards to balustrades and staircases. All of their products and materials have been adapted and specially engineered to suit the updated regulations. Steel Studio’s products have also been tested and approved by a professional, structural engineer in order to be safe for all that use their products. According to Sandra Blackbeard, Marketing Director, Steel Studio is calling for more regulation and inspection in the industry to ensure that balustrade sub-contractors are held accountable and are all on the same playing field. “People’s lives are at risk when non-compliant products are installed and it is negligent to continue to produce and install products that are of inferior materials and not installed to the regulations”, says Sandra.

According to Sandra, what they are finding in the industry is that sub-contractors are being advised by competent persons that their products fail under the standard impact and load tests but that they continue to supply the non-compliant products due to the impact the new regulations have on their material and installation costs, or they also select certain portions of the SANS codes which limit their liability or responsibility.


correct staircaseAnother problem is that inspectors are not always aware of what to look out for and query on balustrade safety and installations, enabling occupation certificates to be issued even though the balustrades, that are structural elements in the buildings, are unsafe.

Steel Studio has now approached the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, which office was established in terms of the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications Act, 5 of 2008, in order to ensure that all balustrade sub-contractors comply with the national standards and specifications.

Ongoing efforts will continue in regulating the industry to provide consumers with safe and structurally sound balustrades and staircases.

Dave Braithwaite is the director of Steel Studio, Sandra Blackbeard is the Marketing Director.

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