Staircase Building Regulations.

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The Building Regulations 2000

Protection from falling, collision and impact


K1    Stairs, ladders and ramps
K2    Protection from falling
K3    Vehicle barriers and loading bays
K4    Protection from collision with open windows, skylights and ventilators
K5    Protection against impact from and trapping by doors


This edition of Approved Document K, Protection from falling, collision and impact, replaces the 1992 edition.  The main changes are:

Requirement K1
Stairs, ladders and ramps:
a.  the scope has been extended to cover access to areas of the building used only for maintenance.

    b.  the guidance on spiral and helical stairs has been simplified to refer to BS.5395:Part 2.

Requirement K2
Protection from falling: 

the scope has been extended to cover guarding of areas used for maintenance and guarding to light wells and other sunken areas when connected to a building.

Requirement K3
Vehicle barriers and loading bays:
the scope has been extended to cover safety aspects of the design of loading bays.

Requirement K4
Protection from collision with open windows etc:
new requirement to reduce risk of collisions with open windows, skylights and ventilators.

Requirement K5
Protection against impact and trapping by doors:
new requirement to reduce the risk of injury when using, for example, certain types of sliding or powered doors and gates.

 CONTENTS  Page 1 

Introduction                                                                                                     5
Definitions                                                                                                        5
Section 1:  Stairs and ladders    
Steepness of stairs  
Rise and going                                                                                                6
Alternative approach                                                                                       6
Construction of steps                                                                                       6
Headroom                                                                                                        7
Width of flights                                                                                                 7
Length of flights                                                                                               7
Landings                                                                                                          7
Special Stairs  
Tapered treads                                                                                                8
Spiral and helical stairs                                                                                8
Alternating tread stairs                                                                                   9
Fixed ladders                                                                                                    9
Handrails for stairs                                                                                          9
Guarding of stairs                                                                                             9
Access for maintenance                                                                                9
Section 2:  Ramps
Steepness                                                                                                       10
Headroom                                                                                                       10
Width                                                                                                               10
Obstruction of ramps                                                                                    10
Handrails                                                                                                        10
Landings                                                                                                         10
Guarding                                                                                                         10
Performance                                                                                                   11
Section 3:  Guards and barriers
Pedestrian guarding                                                                                      12
Vehicle barriers                                                                                           13
Loading Bays                                                                                                  13
Performance                                                                                                  14
Section 4:  Protection from collision  
Introduction to provisions                                                                            15
Projecting parts                                                                                             15
Spaces used only for maintenance                                                          15  
Performance                                                                                                  16
 Section 5: Protection against impact
Introduction to provisions                                                                           17
Safety features                                                                                              17
Standards referred to                                                                               19
1.  Measuring rise and going                                                                      6
2.  Measuring headroom                                                                             7
3.  Reducing headroom for loft conversions                                            7
4.  Dividing flights                                                                                         7
5.  Change of direction                                                                               7
6.  Landings next to doors                                                                            8
7.  Cupboard onto landing                                                                           8
8.  Measuring tapered treads                                                                       8
9.  Alternating tread stair                                                                               9
10. Ramp Design                                                                                      10
11Guarding design                                                                                     12
12. Typical locations for containment                                                        13
13. Barrier siting                                                                                           13
14. Barrier design                                                                                       13
15. Loading bay                                                                                            13
16. Marking by a barrier                                                                              15
17. Marking by a surface                                                                              15
18. Doors with vision panels                                                                        17
1.  Rise and going                                                                                            6   
USE OF GUIDANCE  Page 2                                              



The Building Regulation 2000 (SI 200/2531), which came into operation on 1 January 2001, replace the Building Regulations 1991 (SI1991/2768) and consolidate all subsequent revisions to those regulations.  This document is one of a series that has been approved and issued by the Secretary of State for the purpose of providing practical guidance with respect to the requirements of Schedule 1 to and Regulation 7 of the Building Regulations 2000 for England and Wales.

At the back of this document is a list of all the documents that have been approved and issued by the Secretary of State for this purpose.

Approved Documents are intended to provide guidance for some of the more common building situations.  However, there may well be alternative ways of achieving compliance with the requirements.  Thus there is no obligation to adopt any particular solution contained in an Approved Document if you prefer to meet the relevant requirement in some other way.

Other Requirements

The guidance contained in an Approved Document relates only to the particular requirements of the Regulations which the document addresses.  The Building work will also have to comply with the requirements of any other relevant paragraphs in Schedule 1 to the Regulations.  There are Approved Documents which give guidance on each of the parts of Schedule 1 and on Regulation 7.


In accordance with Regulation 8, the requirements in Parts A to K and N of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations do not require anything to be done except for the purpose of of securing reasonable standards of health and safety for persons in or about buildings (and any others who may be affected by buildings or matters connected with buildings).


Any building work which is subject to the requirements imposed by Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations should, in accordance with Regulation 7, be carried out with proper materials and in a workmanlike manner.

You may show that you have complied with Regulation 7 in a number of ways.  These include the appropriate use of a product bearing CE marking in accordance with the Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC)(*1) as amended by the CE Marking Directive (93/68/EED)(*2), or a product complying with an appropriate technical specification (as defined in those Directives),  A British Standard, or an alternative national Technical specification of any state which is a contracting party to the European Economic Area which, in use, is equivalent, or a product covered by a national or European certificate issued by a European Technical Approval issuing body, and the conditions of use are in accordance with the terms of the certificate.  You will find further guidance in the Approved Document supporting Regulation 7 on the materials and workmanship.

Independent certification schemes

There are many UK product certification schemes.  Such schemes certify compliance with the requirements of a recognised document which is appropriate to the purpose for which the material is to be used.  Materials which are not so certified may still conform to a relevant standard.

Many certification bodies which approve such schemes are accredited by UKAS.

Technical specifications

Building Regulations are made for specific purposes: health and safety, energy conservation and the welfare and convenience of disabled people.  Standards and technical approvals are relevant guidance to the extent that they relate to these considerations.  However, they may also address other aspects of performance such as serviceability, or aspects which although they relate to health and safety are not covered by the Regulations.

When an Approved Document makes reference to a named standard, the relevant version of the standard is the one listed at the end of the publication.  However, if this version has been revised or updated by the issuing standards body, the new version may be used as a source of guidance provided it continues to address the relevant requirements of the Regulations.

The appropriate use of a product which complies with a European Technical Approval as defined in the Construction Products Directive will meet the relevant Requirements.

The Department intends to issue periodic amendments to its Approved Documents to reflect emerging harmonized European Standards.  Where a national standard is to be replaced by a European harmonized Standard there will be a co-existence period during which either standard may be referred to.  At the end of the co-existence period the national standard will be withdrawn.


Page 3

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 contain some requirements which affect building design.  The main requirements are now covered by the Building Regulations, but for further information see Workplace, health, safety and welfare, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, Approved Code of Practice and Guidance; The Health and Safety Commission, L24; Published by HMSO 1992; ISBN 0-11-886333-9.
The workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 apply to the common parts of flats and similar buildings if people such as cleaners and caretakers are employed to work in these common parts.  Where the requirements of the Building Regulations that are covered by this part do not apply to dwellings, the provisions may still be required in the situations described above in order to satisfy the Workplace Regulations.

Mixed use development

In mixed use developments part of a building may be used as a dwelling while another part has non-domestic use.  In such cases, if the requirements of this Part of the Regulations for dwellings and non domestic use differ, the requirements for non-domestic use should apply in any shared parts of the building.


The Requirement K1

Page 4

This Approved Document deals with the following Requirement from Part K of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2000.

Where necessary reference should be made to Approved Document B:  Fire safety, and Approved Document M:  Access and facilities for disabled people.


Attention is drawn to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

Compliance with Building Regulation requirement K1 and, where appropriate, requirement M2 where it relates to stairs and ramps would, in accordance with Section 23(3) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc.  Act 1974, prevent the service of an improvement notice with regard to the requirements of Regulation 17 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 which relate to permanent stairs, ladders and ramps on pedestrian traffic routes within the workplace premises, including those used to give access for maintenance to parts of the workplace premises.


Page 5


In the Secretary of State's view the requirement K1 will be met by the use of stairs, ladders and ramps in appropriate circumstances to afford reasonable safety between levels in the following buildings:

    a.    dwellings where the difference in level is more than 600mm;

    b.    other buildings where the change of level is two or more risers (or 380mm if not part of a stair).

An acceptable level of safety can be achieved by different standards of provision, depending on the circumstances; for example, in a public building the standard of provision may be higher than in a dwelling, to reflect the lesser familiarity and greater number of users.

Where access is required only for the purpose of maintenance, greater care can be expected from those gaining access, and it would be reasonable that less demanding provisions could satisfy the requirement.


0.1    This document describes some ways of meeting the requirement.

        Section 1 gives guidance on aspects of geometry of stairs, special stairs and guarding of stairs.

        Section 2 gives guidance on ramps and guarding of ramps.

0.2    The requirement does not apply to means of access outside a building unless the access is part of the building; for example, the requirement does not apply to steps on land leading to a building, but does apply to entrance steps which are part of the building.

0.3    Where access routes:

        a.    form part of a means of escape in case of fire, reference should be made to Approved Document B:  Fire safety;

        b.    are intended as a means of access for disabled people, reference should be made to Approved Document M:  Access and facilities for disabled people.

0.4    In places where a stair or ramp forms part of the means of access within assembly buildings, such as sports stadia, arenas, theatres, cinemas, etc it should conform to the guidance in Part K: Protection from falling, collision and impact.  However, where steps are part of the gangways serving areas for spectators or there needs to be special consideration given to guarding in spectator areas, then reference should be made to relevant guidance such as : 

        a.    for new assembly buildings, BS 5588 Fire precautions in the design, construction and use of buildings Part 6:1991:  Code of Practice for places of assembly;   
        b.    for work to existing assembly buildings, Guide to Fire Precautions in Existing Places of Entertainment and Like Premises, Home Office 1990.

        c.    for stands at sports grounds, Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds, The Stationary Office 1997.


0.5    The following meanings apply to terms throughout this Approved Document.

Alternating tread stair - A stair with paddle shaped treads with the wide portion alternating from one side to the other on consecutive treads (see paragraph 1.22-1.24).
Containment - A barrier that prevents people falling from one floor to the storey below (See diagrams 11 and 12).
Flight - The part of a stair or ramp between landings that has a continuous series of steps or a continuous slope (for the widths and lengths of flights see paragraph 1.11-1.14).
Going - The horizontal dimensions from front to back of a tread less any overlap with the next tread above (for measurement of the going on tapered treads see paragraphs 1.18-1.20).
Helical Stair - A stair that describes a helix round a central void (see paragraph 1.21).
Ladder - A means of access to another level formed by a series of rungs or narrow treads on which a person normally ascends or descends facing the ladder (see paragraphs 1.25 and 1.26).
Ramp - A slope steeper than 1 in 20 designed to conduct a pedestrian or wheelchair user from one level to another (see section 2).
Rise - The height between consecutive treads (see paragraphs 1.1 - 1.6).
Spiral Stair - A stair that describes a helix round a central column (see paragraph 1.21).
Stair - A succession of steps and landings that makes it possible to pass on foot to other levels.
Tapered Tread - A step in which the nosing is not parallel to the nosing of the step or landing above it (see paragraphs 1.18-1.20).

Section 1


Page 6

Steepness of Stairs - Rise and Going

1.1    The requirement will be satisfied if, in a flight, the steps all have the same rise and the same going to the dimensions shown in 1.3 or comply with 1.4 and 1.5.
1.2    Three categories of stairs are considered in this Approved Document:
        "Private"  intended to be used for only one dwelling .
1.3    Indication of the practical limits for rise
        "Institutional and assembly" serving a place where a substantial number of people will gather.
        "Other"  in all other buildings.
1.3     Indication of the practical limits for rise and going for each category of stair which satisfies the requirements, is given below

        a.    Private Stair:  
               Any rise between 155mm and 220mm used with any going between 245mm and 260mm; or
               Any rise between 165mm and 200mm used with any going between 223mm and 300mm.

        b.    Institutional and Assembly stair:  
                Any rise between 135mm** and 180mm** used with any going between 280mm and 340mm.

        c.    Other Stair:  
               Any rise between 150mm** and 190mm** used with any going between 250mm and 320mm.

1.4  Table 1 gives the Maximum rise and minimum going for the three stair categories.


The maximum pitch for private stair is 42°.

If the area of a floor of the building is less than 100m2, the going may be reduced to 250mm.

** For maximum rise for stairs providing the means of access for disabled people, reference should be made to Approved Document M:  Access and facilities for disabled people.

Diagram 1 Measuring Rise and Going

1.5  The normal relationship between the dimensions of the rise and going is that twice the rise plus the going (2R + G) should be between 550mm and 700mm.

Diagram 1 shows how to measure the rise and going (for steps with tapered treads, see also paragraphs 1.18 - 1.20).

1.6 In assembly buildings, the gangways may need to be at different pitches to maintain sightlines for spectators and this may affect the main stairs etc.

The maximum pitch for gangways for seated spectators is 35°.

Alternative Approach

1.7  The requirement for steepness of stairs can be met by following the relevant recommendations in BS 5395 Stairs, ladders and walkways Part 1:  1977 code of Practice for the design of straight stairs.

Construction of Steps

1.8  Steps should have level treads.  Steps may have open risers, but treads should then overlap each other by at least 16mm.  For steps in buildings  providing the means of access for disabled people reference should be made to Approved Document M:  Access and facilities for disabled people.

1.9  All stairs which have open risers and are likely to be used by children under 5 years should be constructed so that a 100mm diameter sphere cannot pass through the open risers.

Page 7


1.10  A headroom of 2m is adequate on the the access between levels (see diagram 2) for loft conversions where there is not enough space to achieve  this height,  the headroom will be satisfactory if the height measured at the center of the stair width is 1.9m reducing to 1.8m at the side of the stair as shown in diagram 3.

Diagram 2 Measuring Headroom

Diagram 3 Reduced Headroom for loft conversions

Width of Flights

1.11  No recommendations for minimum stair landings widths are given.  Designers should bear in mind the requirements for stairs which:

        a.  form part of means of escape.  Reference should be made to Approved Document B:  Fire safety;

        b.  provide access for disabled people.  Reference should be made to Approved Document M:  Access and facilities for disabled people.

1.12  A stair in a public building which is wider than 1800mm should be divided into flights which are not wider than 1800mm as shown in diagram 4.

Diagram 4  - Dividing Flights

Length of Flights

1.13  The number of risers in a flight should be limited to 16 if a stair serves an area used as a shop or for assembly purposes.

For gangways of shallow pitch that are used in assembly buildings reference should be made to BS 5588-6:1991 and to the Guide to Safety in Sports Grounds and Guide to Fire Precautions in Existing Places of Entertainment and Like Premises.

1.14    Stairs having more than 36 risers in consecutive flights should make at lease one change of direction between flights of at least 30° (see diagram 5).

Diagram 5  - Change of Direction


1.15  Landings should be provided at the top and bottom of every flight.  The width and length of every landing should be at least as great as the smallest width of the flight.  The landing may include part of the floor of the building.

1.16 To afford safe passage landings should be clear of permanent obstruction.  A door may swing across a landing at the bottom of a flight but only if it will leave a clear space of at least 400mm across the full width of the flight (see diagram 6).  Doors to cupboards and ducts may open in a similar manner over a landing at the top of a flight (see diagram 7).  For means of escape requirements reference should be made to Approval Document B:  Fire Safety.

Page 8

1.17 Landings should be level unless they are formed by the ground at the top or bottom of a flight.  The maximum slope of this type of landing may be 1 in 20 provided that the ground is paved or otherwise made firm.

Diagram 6 Landing ext to doors

Diagram 7 Landings next to doors

Special Stairs 

Tapered treads

1.18  for steps with tapered treads the going should be measured as follows:

    a.    if the width of flight is narrower than 1m measure in the middle; and

    b.    if the width of flight is 1m or wider measure 270mm from each side.

The requirement will be satisfied if the rise and going complies with advice in paragraphs 1.1 to 1.5.

The going of tapered treads should measure at least 50mm at the narrow end (see diagram 8).

1.19    where consecutive tapered treads are used a uniform going should be maintained.

1.20    where a stair consists of straight and tapered treads the going of the tapered treads should not be less than the going of the straight flight - these treads should satisfy paragraphs 1.1 to 1.5.

Stairs designed to BS 585: wood stairs Part 1:1989.  Specification for stairs with closed risers for domestic use, including straight and winder flights and quarter or half landings, will offer reasonable safety.

Diagram 8 - Measured tapered treads

Spiral and Helical Stairs

1.21    Stairs designed in accordance with BS 5395- Stairs, ladders and walkways.  Part 2:1984 code of Practice for the design of helical and spiral stairs will be adequate.

Stairs with goings less than shown in this standard may be considered in conversion work when space is limited and the stair does not serve more than one habitable room.

Page 9

Alternating Tread stairs

1.22  This type of stair is one of a number of stair types designed to save space.  The general pattern of steps has alternate handed steps with part of the tread cut away;  the user relies on familiarity and regular use for reasonable safety (see diagram 9).

1.23  Alternating tread stairs should only be installed in one or more straight flights for a loft conversion and then only when there is not enough space to accommodate a stair satisfying paragraphs 1.1 to 1.17 above.  It should only be used for access to one habitable room, together if desired with a bathroom and/or WC.  This WC must not be the only WC in the dwelling.

1.24  Steps should be uniform with parallel nosings.  The stair should have handrails on both sides and the treads should have slip resistant surfaces.  The tread sizes over the wider part of the step should be in line with dimensions shown in Table 1 with a maximum rise of 220mm and a minimum going of 220mm.  The provisions stated in paragraph 1.9 will apply.

Diagram 9 Alternating Tread Stair

Fixed Ladders

A fixed ladder should have fixed handrails on both sides and should only be installed for access in a loft conversion and then only when there is not enough space without alteration to the existing space to accommodate a stair which satisfies paragraphs 1.1 to 1.17.  It should be used for access to only one habitable room.  Rectractable ladders are not acceptable for means of escape.  For reference see Approved Document B:  Fire Safety.

1.26 Stairs, ladders and walkways in industrial buildings should, as appropriate, be designed and constructed in accordance with BS 5395: Stairs, ladders and walkways:  Part 3: 1985 Code of practice for the design of industrial stairs, permanent ladders and walkways, or BS 4211:1987 Specification for ladders for permanent access to chimneys, other high structures, silos and bins.

Handrails for Stairs

1.27  Stairs should have a handrail on at least one side if they are less than 1m wide.  They should have a handrail on both sides if they are wider.  Handrails should be provided beside the two bottom steps in public buildings and where stairs are intended to be used by people with disabilities.  See Approved Document M:  Access and facilities for disabled people.  Elsewhere handrails need not be provided beside the two bottom steps.

In all building handrail height should be between 900mm and 1000mm measured to the top of the handrail from the pitch line or floor.

Handrails can form the top of a guarding if the heights can be matched.

Guarding of Stairs

1.28  Flights and landings should be guarded at the sides (see diagram 11):

    a.    in dwellings - when there is a drop of more than 600mm.

    b.    in other buildings - when there are two or more risers.

1.29  Except on stairs in a building which is not likely to be used by children under 5 years the guarding to a flight should prevent children being held fast by the guarding.  The construction should be such that:

    a.    a 100mm sphere cannot pass through any openings in the guarding and 

    b.    children will not readily be able to climb the guarding.

1.30  The height of the guarding itself should be as shown in diagram 11.

Access for Maintenance Purposes

1.31  Where frequent access for maintenance will be required (e.g. at least once per month), provisions such as those suggested for private stairs in dwellings in this Approved Document, or the guidance in BS 5395: Part 3 on industrial stairs and ladders, will satisfy the requirement.

1.32  Where access will be required less frequently it may be appropriate to use portable ladders, etc.  Provisions for safe use of such temporary means of access are not covered by Building Regulations, but they are covered by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994.

Section 2: 


Page 10

2.1 Steepness - To permit safe passage the steepest slope of ramp that should be used is 1:12.

2.2  Headroom -  All ramps and landings should have a clear headroom throughout of at least 2m (see diagram 10)

2.3  Width  - There is no recommendation for minimum ramp widths, except for ramps which form means of escape, for reference, see Approved Document B:  Fire Safety.  For ramps providing access for disabled people see Approved Document M:  Access and facilities for disabled people.

2.4  Obstruction of Ramps  Ramps should be clear of permanent obstructions.

Diagram 10 Ramp Design

2.5  Handrails - Ramps that are less than 1m wide should have a handrail on at least one side.  They should have a handrail on both sides if they are wider.  There is no need to have handrails if the rise of the ramp is 600mm or less.

Handrails should be at a height of between 900mm and 1000mm.  They should give firm support and allow a firm grip.  Handrails can form the top of the guarding if the heights can be matched.  For handrails on ramps providing access for disabled people see Approved Document M:  Access and facilities for disabled people.

2.6  Landings - Ramps should be provided with landings (see paragraphs 1.15 - 1.17).

2.7  Guarding - Ramps and their landings should be guarded at their sides in the same way as stairs (See paragraphs 1.28 - 1.30).