The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) defines balustrading as a structural system that impedes accidental or inadvertent passage of people and objects between the areas that it separates.


Being such a safety critical item it is therefore not surprising that there is strict legislation in place governing both the structural strength of the various different applications as well as the non-structural design aspects.


Legislation governing the general design on balustrading varies from country to country.


For example the most popular accepted design in South Africa for Stainless Steel balustrades makes use of horizontal filler bars. This design is illegal for installations in public places in most western counties as it is deemed unsafe for children.


Similarly the height specification of 1m which is the norm in South African is slightly lower than that legislated by many other governments. General design loads and structural forces that the balustrading must withstand are also specified.


It is therefore imperative that foreign customers are familiar with their legislative requirements and whether any formal testing or accreditation is required prior to a product being installed.


Below is a brief overview of some of the rules applicable to balustrading installations in South Africa and guides as to where more detailed information can be found.


Non-Structural Design:

The height of balustrading is laid down in the relevant legislation and shall not be less than 1m.


In public places no opening between rails shall allow the passage of a ball of diameter 100mm.


Structural Design:

Structurally all balustrades must be designed to resist the general design load given in the Standard. This will vary dependent on whether the design is considered conventional or unconventional and where the balustrading is used, such as at exits or for hand railing used as a means of support. The design load resistance for possible applications can be calculated by means of formulas given by the SABS 0104.