Building construction

The Role of Building Codes in Protecting Public Safety

The creation of commercial and residential structures is heavily regulated by a set of codes that help protect public safety and general welfare. These are referred to as building codes and they do so by ensuring not only functionality but safety as well.

 

Every country has their own form of government entity that enforces these building codes, and Australia has the Australian Buildings Code Board or ABCB. The ABCB regularly checks to see that the codes apply to every structure of the land still, securing the fact that they are safe for use.

 

Should any building violate just one code, penalty will be issued to the owners considering the potential harm the violation can cause.

 

Below we have listed some of the codes that structures in Australia are required to follow so they won’t get penalised or shut down.

 

Stairs

 

A commonly cited building code applies to stairs, and it’s the need for railings to prevent people from going over the edge. Said railings also act as leverage for those who need the help while traversing the steps. This code is in place regardless of how few the steps a stair has. However, the Australian Standard requires more to be done before the stair installation.

 

Throughout the planning process, the building code encourages architects and engineers to be more accurate in their measurements.

 

For example, locally, the stairway measurement is required by the law to be equal to or less than 600 mm wide. This measurement should be within the boundaries of the handrails and inside edges. As for the angle of each step, it should be between 26.5 and 45 degrees.

 

Another code is Australian Standard 1657 – 4.4.4. This code is for stairways, and dictates that straight flights of stairs aren’t allowed to go beyond 18 risers — the space between one step and the next — without having at least one landing. 36 risers is the max for straight stairways before a change of direction should be implemented.

 

Doors

 

Another fixture that requires precise measurements is the door, and its accompanying doorway. There are numerous measurements that can be used in this regard, but the one recommended for use most frequently is a door that is 820mm in width and 2040mm in height. However, a lot more people have started using doors that have a height of 2340mm to accommodate their high ceilings.

 

As for the placement of the door handle, the recommended height is between 90mm to 110 mm above the floor for any kind of door. Going on either extremes, when the door isn’t located in facilities for childcare, goes against code AS 1428.1 which seeks access and mobility when it comes to design.

 

Door

Another code to consider when it comes to doors is D2.21. This code dictates a few requirements, one of which is the absence of internal knobs, because these can act as a hindrance to people with disabilities during times of emergencies. Alongside this requirement is the need for only one lock per door.

 

There are plenty more building codes to consider, each significant to other parts of a structure. 

 

Despite the limitations that these regulations impose during planning and construction, they should be strictly followed given how they serve to protect the public’s best interest.

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