In Australia, slips, trips, and falls account for a significant percentage of accidents, with public stairways being a particularly high-risk area, and rates of falls are increasing every year within residential spaces.
For this reason, stair safety is a crucial concern for homeowners and businesses alike. It is the responsibility of home and building owners, construction experts, and managers to ensure the safety of their building’s occupants and visitors.
Given that our stair nosings make up a component of a stairs surface area, it is important to factor in the relevant slip resistance regulation when both choosing products for conversion to and specifying nosings.
In some instances, if the material of choice does not comply with stair slip safety ratings, consideration should be given to additional treatments such as transparent, adhesive-backed tapes to achieve the required rating, and make sure that the stair is suitably slip-safe.
Once the stair nosing installation is complete it would be prudent that when using tapes you photograph the finished job and ask the builder or consumer to sign off that it has been installed. In the event the end user may pull the tape off at a later date it might be argued that the tape was never fixed in the first place.
The requirements for stair nosing in Australia
Stair nosings as a part of the tread area of a step (where foot traffic lands) are an important aspect of building design and construction. While Holzbau nosings are primarily designed for decorative purposes by perfectly matching the floor of choice, safety requirements must be considered to ensure that stairs are safe for those who use them.
Holzbau-manufactured stair nosings are profiled strips of plank flooring that are installed on the edge of the structural step to create a smooth cornered finish of the stair making them a critical component when it comes to stair safety.
Who regulates stair safety requirements in Australia?
Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB)
The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) is a joint initiative of the Australian Government and state and territory governments. Its primary purpose is to provide a uniform and consistent set of technical building and construction standards across the country.
It’s this board that’s responsible for developing and managing the National Construction Code (NCC), which includes the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The BCA provides technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings, including stair nosing requirements.
Standards Australia is a non-governmental organisation responsible for developing and publishing technical standards for various products and systems in Australia.
It developed the Australian Standard AS1428.1, Design for Access and Mobility Part 1: General Requirements for Access – New Building Work, which specifies the requirements for stair nosings, which is particularly important for public settings.
Though Standards Australia is non-governmental, the AS1428.1 is referenced in the previously mentioned Building Code of Australia, making compliance with its requirements mandatory.
State and Territory building regulators
In addition to the combined efforts to create the ABCB, state and territory-building regulators still play an additional role in enforcing stair nosing regulations in their respective areas.
These bodies are responsible for administering and enforcing building laws, regulations, and codes within their jurisdictions. As well as this, they can conduct inspections to ensure compliance with regulations and issue fines or penalties for non-compliance.
Some examples of these bodies and their stair nosing requirements include:
Australian stair nosing requirements and standards
Commercial stair nosing requirements
In public or commercial settings, stair nosings must comply with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) to ensure the safety of occupants.
It’s important to note that these requirements may vary depending on the specific jurisdiction and type of building or occupancy. It’s always a good idea to consult with a building code expert or local building authority to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations.
According to the BCA, the requirements for stair nosing in public or commercial settings include:
Stair nosings must have a visual contrast with the background surface of the stair treads to make them more visible. The contrast must be at least 30% for the top and bottom nosing of each flight.
The top surface of stair nosings must have a slip-resistant finish to reduce the risk of slips and falls. The slip resistance rating must be at least R10 or P3, as measured by a pendulum slip resistance tester.
The maximum projection of the stair nosing over the stair tread must be between 10mm and 25mm. The minimum distance between the nosing and any adjacent vertical surface, such as a wall, must be at least 50mm.
Stair nosings must have a rounded profile to reduce the risk of tripping. The radius of the curve must not be less than 2mm.
Stair nosings must be durable and able to withstand the wear and tear of regular use.
Residential stair nosing requirements
In private, domestic, or home settings, the stair nosing requirements are generally less strict than in public or commercial settings. However, building codes and regulations may still apply and it is important to check with your local building authority to ensure compliance.
If you choose to install nosings, it is important to ensure that they do not create a trip hazard themselves and that they are securely fixed in place using the correct installation methods by a flooring specialist.
Here are some general guidelines around stairs and nosings in domestic settings:
The maximum pitch for a domestic staircase is typically 42 degrees while the minimum is usually around 30.
The maximum rise for each step is usually around 220mm and the minimum going is around 220mm. The going should be consistent throughout the staircase.
In domestic settings, open risers are often permitted. Though, it’s important to ensure that the opening between treads does not allow the passage of a 100mm sphere. If you have young children in the home, it may be advisable to install a balustrade or guardrail to prevent falls.
Balustrades are often required for stairs over one metre high. The height of the balustrade should be a minimum of 900mm from the pitch line of the stair, or from the floor level of a landing.
The gaps between these balusters should be no more than 100mm and should be fixed securely in place with no movement or wobble.
If you have a ramp in your home, the surface should be slip-resistant and have a slope of no more than 1:12.
A minimum width of 900mm is recommended, and there should be a landing at the top and bottom of the ramp. The ramp should be clearly marked with contrasting colours at the edges.
Ensuring your stairs are safe and compliant with requirements
Whether your stairs are commercial or residential, complying with standards set by the ABCA, Standards Australia, and relevant state and territory bodies is compulsory and will benefit the safety of the people that use them.
Holzbau recommends only using flooring industry specialists when selecting flooring products that will also be used on stairs, to find a flooring solution that will fit your home or business space whilst meeting relevant safety requirements.
Holzbau nosings are designed to use the existing board lock to provide a seamless tread without any raised trip hazards, it is, therefore, important to only engage suitably qualified and experienced trades who will not only know how to install the nosings as they are designed but will at the same time ensure the stairs are compliant and safe for those that use them.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this text is intended for general guidance and reference purposes only. It is not intended to serve as professional advice or a substitute for consultation with relevant authorities. Holzbau does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage arising from the use or reliance on this information. It is highly recommended that you consult with your local building authority, the ABCA, Standards Australia, and other relevant state and territory bodies for accurate, up-to-date, and specific advice before undertaking any construction or renovation projects involving stairs.