View Full Version : Summary of replies handrail heights

11-07-2005, 09:59 AM

Thanks to all who responded to the balcony railing question. The original
posting is followed by the summary. Thanks to those who offered additional
follow up information.
R.D. Clark, Ph.D.
Dept. of Kinesiology
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo CA 93407
805.756.0285 voice
805.756.7273 fax

When examining building codes for handrail/wall heights for an elevated
balcony, safety is the objective (so someone doesn't fall over an exposed
side). However, individuals still fall over the side in certain instances.

Can anyone point me to published studies that are used to determine what
these heights should be? Also, someone who is falling (e.g., tripping on
something, then recovering from a fall) will impose different dynamics when
encountering this handrail/wall than someone leaning against it. Are there
any works that describe this?

'the measure of man and woman' from henry dreyfus associates is a set of
guidelines for architects and designers. really nice reference book. all
kinds of sizing specs/etc. safety. 1st % to 99%, etc.
Daniel Paluska

A good place to start is John Templer's book "The Staircase: Studies of
Hazards, Falls and Safer Design" published by the MIT Press.

Al Vangura Jr.

You will certainly find something in Britsh Standards about this - also
possibly European Codes on safety. I cannot direct you the a particular
section, however architects and structural engineers have information on

Hope this helps.

John Middleton

Prof. John Middleton
Director of Biomaterials/Biomechanics Research Centre
Wales College of Medicine
Cardiff Medicentre
Heath Park
Cardiff CF14 4UJ Wales, UK

Check out this site: http://www.nadra.org/consumers/deck_inspections.html It
is stated that "the height of the railing is also regulated, with a height
of 36 inches standard for residential properties and 42 or 48 inches most
common for commercial and fencing applications." Give them a call to see if
they know how these guidelines were formulated.

Andy Cornwell

Our lab has described some work measuring handrail dynamics in preventing
stairway falls.

Maki, BE, Perry, SD, McIlroy, WE. "Efficacy of Handrails in Preventing
Stairway Falls: A New Experimental Approach'. 1998 Safety Science, Vol 28,
No 3, pp. 189-206, 1998

James Tung, PhD candidate
Sunnybrook & Women's College HSC
2075 Bayview Ave, U-Basement
Toronto ON M4N 3M5
T. 416.480.5858
F. 416.480.5856
E. James.Tung@swri.ca