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Summary of replies handrail heights

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  • Summary of replies handrail heights


    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: 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