Nov 152011
 

Even at Home Public Safety is Paramount-Part D

All home owners have a responsibility to people who visit their homes, or members of the public who are able to access their homes.

According to the National Building Regulations we must be concerned specifically with:

  • changes in level,
  • pedestrian entrances to parking area in all buildings,
  • ramps and driveways,
  • swimming pools.

Change in Level

If people can access a level other than ground level on your property, you need to be absolutely certain that they are not likely to fall off. Areas of special concern include balconies, flat roofs and in fact anywhere that is more than one metre above another level.

The most common form of protection in these circumstances will be balustrades, parapet walls, and some sort of handrail.

Pedestrian Entrances

Here the main concern is that people walking to their cars, bikes or whatever form of vehicle they are driving or being transported in can do so safely.

This is generally more of a problem for public buildings rather than private homes. However if there is any possible danger that someone might unintentionally walk in the path of a moving vehicle, make sure there is some sort of warning sign and lighting at night.

Ramps

The building regulations state that any ramp or driveway must be designed in such a way that it is “safe when used and is fit for the purpose for which it is intended”.

Concern here is more for semi-public buildings or places where groups of people are accommodated. However the guidelines suggested in the SANS are relevant for properties where there are two or more dwellings, as well as for other buildings where people live or stay:

  • ramps and driveways used by cars and similar vehicles should have a gradient of no more than 1:25 within a distance of 5 m from street boundaries the driveway crosses,
  • those used by pedestrians may be considerably steeper than this: a maximum gradient  of 1:8 is permitted,
  • if ramps and driveways are going to be used by pedestrians and vehicles, there should be a walkway that is at least 1,2 m wide, with a kerb that is at least 150 mm high.

The diagram below shows how this works for ramps and driveways.

public safety

Motor vehicle ramp or driveway

Swimming Pools

While the building regulations simply state that property owners must control access to their swimming pools, most local authorities have much stricter rules and regulations. Remember it is ultimately the local authority that will decide whether you must fence the pool.

And if you don’t comply with the local authority requirements and don’t control access, the regulations warn that you will be guilty of an offence. This is not the type of warning that is often seen in the national building regulations – so take it seriously!

SANS 10400 suggests several possible control mechanisms. For instance, you may install or build a fence or wall:

  • around the swimming pool and ensure there is a self-closing gate,
  • around the house and the pool and make sure that there is a self-closing gate at the entrance – and no other openings,
  • around the pool and the house, but in a way that leaves results in the front wall (and therefore the front door) of the house open to any area that is not walled or fenced,
Examples of safe swimming pool enclosures (extracted from SANS 10400 D)

Examples of safe swimming pool enclosures (extracted from SANS 10400 D)

There are also guidelines for protecting children from the potential hazards of swimming pools in SANS 10134: The safeness of private swimming pools. SANS 1390: Steel fencing for private swimming pools details SABS requirements for pool fencing and self-closing gates.

The SANS guidelines may be followed, providing they are in keeping with your local authority requirements.

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  82 Responses to “Public Safety”

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  1. Does anybody know what the limit is regarding people numbers allowed in buildings for public use in relation to height of ceiling and size of the room? We are considering a house with business rights for use as a business where we need to accommodate certain numbers of people.

    • Henry, Part A of SANS 10400 classifies different occupancies – a house with business rights is not a classification! But bylaws do sometimes allow you to convert or use a dwelling house (H4) or even a domestic residence (H3) and use it for business purposes. Part A also has a table for “Design Population” that says how many people are allowed per x square metre in specific occupancies.

  2. Subject:
    Front balcony wall
    Message:
    I am concerned that the front balcony wall at my front door is far too low and does not seem safe.
    Should there a height restriction on these walls?

    • Screens, railings and balustrades are covered in Part M of SANS 10400, Stairways, and in this section, Public Safety.
      In the section on Changes in Level in Public Safety (Part D), the regulations state:
      “The edge of any balcony, bridge, flat roof or similar place more than 1 m above the adjacent ground or floor level shall be provided with a balustrade or parapet wall not less than 1 m in height, unless unauthorized access of persons thereto has been excluded by a physical barrier properly erected and maintained.”

  3. Could you please advise me where I can obtain the prescribed height and specifications for railings on a upper floor balcony for a hotel?

    • Irma, Screens, railings and balustrades are covered in Part M of SANS 10400, Stairways, and in this section, Public Safety.
      In the section on Changes in Level in Public Safety (Part D), the regulations state:
      “The edge of any balcony, bridge, flat roof or similar place more than 1 m above the adjacent ground or floor level shall be provided with a balustrade or parapet wall not less than 1 m in height, unless unauthorized access of persons thereto has been excluded by a physical barrier properly erected and maintained.”

  4. Regualtion D of the NBR deals with swimming pools and swimming baths but we experience that fish/Khoi ponds are sometimes up to a meter deep and open to the road or adjoining properties. Does this regulation has any bearing on this type of contruction ?

    • Hi Andrew,
      As i understand the word “pool” or “bath” in the building regulations does incorporate any body of water from a small fish pond to a deeper koi-pond to a spa-bath and a swimming pool. Sans 10400-Part D 4.4 will apply and as you have no doubt read an extract is:
      “A wall or fence shall be provided by the owner of a site which contains a swimming pool or a swimming bath to ensure that no person can have access to such pool or bath from any street or public place or any adjoining site other than through;
      a) a self-closing and self-latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence, or
      b) a building where such building forms part of such wall or fence.”

      But why don’t you ask one of the guys in your office they should know. If this going to be enforced in your area please let me know so that we can do a story to inform people what the correct thing is to do, Thanks

      • I have to say that I don’t agree. I don’t think that the NBR covers any type of “body of water” other than SWIMMING pools/baths. Ponds, fountains, rivers, streams on properties are just as dangerous, but I don’t believe that SANS 10400 takes these into account. However I think that people need to realize that they can be held liable if somebody was to fall into a koi pond and hurt themselves – or worse still, drown!

  5. Hi,

    I am looking for the maximum allowed gradient for ramps in commercial parking garage / parkades.
    Surely it can be steeper than 1:25? The ramps will only be used by vehicles. In addition, is there a minimum allowed slab height? (Irrespective of services etc)

    Your feedback is appreciated.
    Regards, Carl.

    • Hi Carl,
      The Building Regulations Part D Section 4.3 Ramps and driveways says:
      a) ramp or driveway used by motor vehicles shall have a gradient of not more than 1 in 25 within a distance of 5 m from any street boundary crossed by such ramp or driveway (see Fig 1);
      b) ramp or driveway used by pedestrians other than those ramps or driveways provided for the use of persons in wheelchairs, shall have a gradient of not more than 1 in 8
      d) ramp designed for use by both vehicles and pedestrians shall have a walkway not less than 1,2 m wide which shall be provided with a kerb not less than 150 mm high.

      You can see the diagram Fig 1 on the “Public Safety” page
      I hope this helps.

  6. Please can you tell me what the Johannesburg Council height requirement is for a swimming pool fence.

    • Alan – there is nothing about pool fencing in the Jo’burg town planning regulations, but I wrote an article about this very subject a couple of years ago. I will check whether anything has changed and post it on our sister site Owner Building, in the next couple of days. I’ll email you when it is up.
      Part D, Public safety of SANS 10400 says this:
      4.4 Swimming pools and swimming baths
      4.4.1 A wall or fence shall be provided by the owner of a site which contains a swimming pool or a swimming bath to ensure that no person can have access to such pool or bath from any street or public place or any adjoining site other than through (see figure 2)
      a) a self-closing and self-latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence, or
      b) a building where such building forms part of such wall or fence.
      4.4.2 A wall or fence shall be provided in any interconnected complex which contains a swimming pool or swimming bath to ensure that no person can have access to such pool or bath from any street or public place or anywhere within the complex other than through a self-closing and self- latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence.
      4.4.3 Such wall or fence and any such gate therein shall be not less than 1,2 m high measured from the ground level, and shall not contain any opening that will permit the passage of a 100 mm diameter ball.
      4.4.4 The constructional requirements of any steel fence or gate shall comply with the requirements in SANS 1390.
      NOTE Additional methods, including pool covers and warning devices, for the protection of children from the hazards of swimming pools are provided in SANS 10134.
      You can download SABS 0400 from our downloads page to see the drawings. They are exactly the same in the new regs.

  7. How many toilets should a work place have?

    • Hi Michael,
      The building inspector at Tubatse Municipality should have all these figures. You will find a table that we have put up for your information here: /drainage/

  8. Hi

    I am looking for building regulations for school swimming pools.

    • Hi Gerda,
      There is nothing that we can find specifically for “school swimming pools”. The SANS 10209 The design and construction of private swimming pools is the standard. SANS 10400, Part D: Public safety – 4.4 Swimming pools and swimming baths deals with walls and fences – and safety elements, including access, rather than construction. I am sure as an established swimming pool company you have these on hand.

  9. Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the challenges.

    It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

  10. Swimming pool regulations.

    Where do i find a copy of the above?

    • Mr Vorster, you will see that Part D, Public Safety of SANS 10400 (covered on this page) deals with swimming pool fencing. SANS 10134, The safeness of private swimming pools & SANS 10209, The design and construction of private swimming pools are two other Standards that relate to swimming pools. Here is a link to the SABS web store.

  11. Hi,
    Looking for info on ramps and noted this “those used by pedestrians should not be this steep, and should only have a maximum gradient of 1:8”. The “this steep” you are refering to is 1:25 which is not as steep as 1:8. Confuses the issue I think and makes me doubt other info!

    • Hello Niki, Thank you for pointing this out – it is a stupid mistake! I have rectified it.
      I have also ‘scanned’ through the ‘new’ SANS 10400 on public safety (Part D) and these are the references it makes to ramps.
      First of all this is what the Act says:
      D3 Ramps
      Any ramp or driveway shall be so designed that it is safe when used and is fit for the purpose for which it is intended.”
      The SANS says:
      4.3 Ramps and driveways
      In any building that is not a building classified as H4*1, or on any site on which such building is situated, any
      a) ramp or driveway used by motor vehicles shall have a gradient of not more than 1 in 25 within a distance of 5 m from any street boundary crossed by such ramp or driveway (see figure 1)*2;
      b) ramp or driveway used by pedestrians other than those ramps or driveways provided for the use of persons in wheelchairs, shall have a gradient of not more than 1 in 8 (see figure 1);
      c) ramp provided for the use of persons in wheelchairs shall be in accordance with the requirements of SANS 10400-S; and
      d) ramp designed for use by both vehicles and pedestrians shall have a walkway not less than 1,2 m wide which shall be provided with a kerb not less than 150 mm high.
      *1 Part A: General Principles and Requirements (in the Act itself) defines the classification and designation of occupancies. H4 = Dwelling house Occupancy consisting of a dwelling unit on its own site, including a garage and other domestic outbuildings, if any
      *2 I have added the drawing.
      Thank you again for taking the time to point out the error. I hope this additional information helps.

  12. I would like to know if the requirements for swimming pool fencing are the same throughout the country?

    Thanks.

    • There is a national standard for the manufacture of steel swimming pool fencing namely, SANS 1390: Steel fencing for private swimming pools, but the requirements in terms of the provision of pool fencing differ according to local authorities. Here is a link to an article I wrote a few years ago about pool fencing in Johannesburg.
      Having said this, when SANS 10400: Part D, Public Safety was updated in 2011, they did attempt to standardize pool fencing. The “new” SANS states that “a wall or fence shall be provided by the owner of a site which contains a swimming pool or a swimming bath to ensure that no person can have access to such pool or bath from any street or public place or any adjoining site other than through:
      a) a self-closing and self-latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence, or
      b) a building where such building forms part of such wall or fence.”
      It also states that, “A wall or fence shall be provided in any interconnected complex which contains a swimming pool or swimming bath to ensure that no person can have access to such pool or bath from any street or public place or anywhere within the complex other than through a self-closing and self- latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence.”
      And that “Such wall or fence and any such gate therein shall be not less than 1,2 m high measured from the ground level, and shall not contain any opening that will permit the passage of a 100 mm diameter ball.”
      Further, “The constructional requirements of any steel fence or gate shall comply with the requirements in SANS 1390.” This is the Standard that I refer to in the article.
      SANS 10400 PArt D also states:
      “NOTE Additional methods, including pool covers and warning devices, for the protection of children from the hazards of swimming pools are provided in SANS 10134.”

  13. We live in duplex in a complex of 6 side by side.
    All the duplexes have basically the same layout and all the geysers are installed above the stairs.
    One of our neighbours recently had a geyser burst and was told that if the new geyser were to be installed back above the stairs it would pose a health and safety risk and not be covered under insurance. Is this a fairly recent change to the health and safety requirements and if so does this cover every geyser that is either wall hung or ceiling mounted in areas with foot traffic?

    • Apologies for taking so long to reply to your query. Somewhere I have a copy of SANS 10254: The installation, maintenance, replacement and repair of fixed electric storage water heating systems, but unfortunately I moved recently and seem to have mislaid it. Plumbing isn’t my day job! If you can get to an SABS library, you can ask to see a copy of these standards and will immediately see what they specify. I don’t think it has anything at all to do with Health and Safety Regs, specifically the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
      The regulations show how the different types of water heaters (geysers) should be assembled and where various valves should be fitted to make the installation safe. This is far more important than specifically where the heater is located.
      Geysers are commonly located in the roof space of houses (as you say) – and we walk below it. I can’t see how installing a geyser above stairs would be any different.
      Your neighbour should question exactly what the insurance company means, and where they CAN put the new geyser to ensure that they are covered. I’d be very interested to find out, and will happily make the call if you give me the name of the insurance company concerned.

  14. Hi,

    Would the public safety for pedestrian entrances be specific to that of parking inside a building or could it relate to a boomed off parking lot next to a public building?

    Thanks,
    Paul

    • I think it would be relevant to all forms of parking, though a boomed-off lot will probably require additional regulations. You would need to check with the local authority because there is nothing other than the public safety clause in the NBR.

  15. I am building a patio. The one side will be defined as ‘ change in level’ since it is about 2.5 metres from the ground. I am putting up a stacking window to enclose the area. Is there a minimum height for the wall below the stacking window?

    • Not specifically Doris. The building regs don’t have a table of heights etc as such, although there are guidelines in terms of wall heights and so on. But there are so many different parameters it is impossible for me to give you a single answer. In any case, if you are enclosing part of the patio, you need plans. Safety would be the primary reason in this case.

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