Balustrades are crucial in the protection of people in areas of increased risk such as parapets, balconies, and sports stadiums. They prevent accidental falls from exposed edges at heights and therefore, they must be safe and fit for purpose both before installation and during service.
At the BBA we test loading limits of free-standing glass balustrades, post balustrades and rail balustrades as directed by Eurocode 1 and tested to BS 6180: 2011 ‘Barriers in and about buildings’. These loading tests ensure the safety and performance of balustrades and their components.
While there is no mandatory requirement to test balustrades to BS 6180: 2011 in the UK, it is fast becoming an industry prerequisite as more manufacturers are entering the market with test data in place. This requirement has been driven by specifiers and contractors who demand proof of performance for the system. In addition to this, manufacturers are bound to ensure that their product is fit-for-purpose, necessitating that the system be installed correctly to ensure its installed performance matches the measured laboratory performance.
To further support both manufacturers and contractors, we provide on-site testing to confirm that the balustrade system performs to the expected standard in-situ. A need that has increased as balustrade systems become more popular for crowd control in public areas such as concert halls and shopping centres. The additional on-site testing also provides Building Control and insurance companies with the required evidence of installation verification, allowing them to sign-off on a structure.
By testing to BS 6180: 2011, manufacturers of balustrades can categorise their system to specific use environments. These categories cover a wide range of uses, including but not limited to;
• residential (stairs and balconies),
• offices (pedestrian traffic routes in buildings),
• retail areas (including outside banks/building societies or betting shops) and
• stadiums (fixed seating or Grandstands and stadia).
BS 6180: 2011, which governs all loading and testing requirements of balustrades, is followed by our test experts both in our laboratories and on-site.
For larger projects, we work with manufacturers to ensure that all types of balustrades meet the performance requirements which are specific to the projects. In these instances, we can provide additional testing for:
• resistance to glass shatter
• simulated wind loading
Finally, specifiers and contractors need to take into consideration the penetration points that can be introduced to the building envelope from the balustrade, compromising the water tightness of the structure. In instances where this is a concern, we can provide additional laboratory testing to verify the waterproofing method and design.
For more information, on how we can help you test to BS 6180: 2011 please contact Test Services