Considerations Of Access Ramps And Handrails In 2019
Peoples needs are forever changing and it is now believed that there is a 60% chance that a dwelling will be occupied by someone with a disability at some stage. Whether this be a direct family member, a relative, neighbour or a random caller, safe access for all should be a requirement.
Aside from people with disabilities, access to a dwelling should also be suitable for:
- Families with small children/buggies
- People with an injury, be that permanent or temporary
- Elderly people
Constructing An Access Ramp For The Home
In an ideal scenario, entrances to homes would all be at external ground level, making it easy for those listed above. However, many houses were built before safe access for all became a major consideration.
This has resulted in many homes with steps leading up to the doorway, which can become a big problem and result in great difficulties, especially for older people or those with disabilities. It is for this reason that ramps are being integrated at a later stage.
Providing A Safe Means Of Access
Although not always ideal, ramps can eventually be the only possible means of access for some people. When installing a ramp, it should be designed in such a way as to reduce the angle of the incline by as much as possible. Steep ramps can be problematic and difficult for everyone.
Flat landing areas should also be provided to create a resting area along a longer ramp, and there is generally a landing pad at the doorway to allow people to stop and gather their keys or wait for the door to be answered.
Should A Handrail Be Provided On Ramps
Handrails should be provided to ensure a safe handhold for those accessing the dwelling and also to provide a protective barrier along the edge of the ramp, where there is a drop. According to Part K of the Building Regulations 2014, a handrail should be provided:
- On at least one side if the ramp is less than 1000mm wide
- On both sides if it is wider than 1000mm
- At the sides of the ramp where there would be a change of levels
Obviously in many cases the access ramp will run parallel to the wall of the house and this will protect from a wheelchair coming off the ramp on this side. Wall mounted handrails can then be installed directly to the blockwork where possible.
For such a scenario, we have Pre-Designed Handrail Kits available.
Handrails For People With Disabilities
Handrails can be designed specifically to provide comfort and ease of use for those with disabilities. Many handrails or safety barriers will provide a secure handhold which is sufficient for the majority of able-bodied people.
However, there are a number of factors which can be applied to provide the right type of rail for disabled access:
- The handrail should be smooth and continuous along its entirety
- It should follow the pitch-line of the ramp and landing areas
- The handrail should extend 300mm by the top and bottom of the ramp
- All rails should be terminated in an appropriate fashion so as to reduce the chance of clothes getting snagged
- The handrail ends should be turned to alert the user that it has come to an end
- The rail should be circular and between 40-50mm in diameter
More detail on disabled access and the approach to dwellings can be found in Part M of the Building Regulations.