How To Design A Disabled Access Handrail

Having noticed with a few of our disability handrail orders that not all the required fittings were ordered by the customer, I have decided to try and put a bit of a piece together to try and help show exactly what specialised fittings are required. Our NDA handrail systems not only look different from the Kee Klamp handrail system. They also perform differently, and are designed in a specific way to ensure they are compliant with Part M of the Building Regulations and the National Disability Authority recommendations.

Hopefully the below will make it easier for people to design their own handrail using the Kee Access fittings, and ensure that they don't leave out any of the key fittings which they require.

Internal Coupling

A good place to start is with the internal coupling. The 18-7 and 514-7 Coupling are very similar and are what connects some of the Kee Access fittings with the tube and ensures that there are no breaks or bumps, creating a smooth, continuous handrail from start to finish.

Many of our specialised fittings, such as the 520-7 90° Solid Elbow and the 554-7 Variable Angle require the internal coupling to connect to the handrail tube. The outer ends of the 18-7/514-7 allow the tubing to run over them, while its central core is visible and runs in line with the tube and the fittings.

internal handrail coupling/joiner

Handrail And Upright Size

All of our NDA fittings are designed to hold a 42.4mm (size 7) handrail. A handrail should be this size to suit the average hand size, as it is most comfortable to hold and ensures the best grip. While the handrail itself is a size 7, the uprights use a size 8 (48.3mm) tube, which provides greater strength against the possible load which might be placed against it.

We use the 10-840C and 10-848 fittings with the size 8 upright to connect a handrail. The 10-840C is used for the top rail and holds the 518-7, which in turn holds the handrail itself(see below). The 10-848 performs the same function in the middle of the upright, holding the 518-7 and also the middle rail.

disabled access handrail post

Base Flanges And Angled Base Flanges

The Kee Access range contains disability handrail fittings which are designed to work on all ramps or sloped areas.

The 62-8 base flange is used where there is flat ground. Usually this is at a landing pad at the mid-point of a ramp, or where there is a landing pad at the door to allow for easier access.

A 67-8 base flange is used on the ramp slope and will allow the posts to be fitted plumb, which is crucial to the aesthetics of the rails. It works on gradients of up to 11 degrees. While the posts are kept plumb, the fittings allow the rail to run with the pitch of the ramp, keeping it the same distance off the ground along its entire course.

Transitioning From A Slope To A Flat

The 554-7 variable angle is another widely used fitting when it comes to a ramp or sloped surface. It is often used to transition between differing slopes or from a slope to a railing on a landing area. An internal coupling(514-7 or 18-7) is then also required on each side of the 554-7 to join the tube. This will ensure a smooth transition between different gradients, allowing a hand to pass freely.

handrail transition from slope to flat

Creating a "D-Return"

A D-return is a nice way of finishing your handrail when it contains both a top and medium rail. It also ensures that clothes cannot get caught on the end of the rail, avoiding a possible injury. Also the turn in the rail will alert somebody with visual impairment that the handrail has come to an end. Most architects and planners will ask for the rail to be turned down at the ends for the above reasons. Creating a D-Return not only matches this specification but also looks well and is a nice way to terminate the rail ends.

To create a D-return on flat ground simply use the 520-7 90° Solid Elbow along with an internal coupling on either side on both the top and mid rails in order to create the curve. Another method of creating a D-return is to use the 515-7 Split Elbow, which allows for joining of the tubes without the need for couplings.

To create a D-return on sloped ground use the 554-7 Variable Angle along with 2 internal couplings. Using these will ensure that the piece of tube joining the 2 rails at the end of a handrail section will be plumb, creating a better appearance.

handrail turn-down or d-return

Wall Mounted Handrail

Sometimes, a wall mounted handrail is also required on the inside of the ramp. We attach a handrail to the wall using either a 565-7 end return or a 570-7 wall mounted handrail bracket. The end return allows the handrail to end by turning into the wall, which is useful for alerting the user with poor eyesight that it has come to an end. It contains screw holes for attaching it securely to the wall. An internal coupling needs to be used with this fitting in order to attach the tube while allowing it to run smoothly with no breaks.

Ideally with a disabled access handrail, the rail will curve into the wall on either end to form a stop, rather than just terminating with a tube end. A "turn-down" will sometimes be mentioned in the drawings, but turning the rail into the wall using the 565-7 will create the same effect. Again, the idea is to stop clothes from getting snagged on the tube, while alerting the user that the rail has finished.

wall mounted handrail disabled access

Hopefully the above will help out with the installation of a disabled access handrail. If you would like more advice on your design, then you can give us a call on 086 1408442. We will be delighted to help.

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