Why handrails are important

Barriers that protect, control access and increase safety are a common sight. A feature that garners less attention though is handrails – but ignoring them could be a costly mistake.

Not only are there strict rules around the provision of handrails – in many cases, it’s a legal requirement to have them – they aid mobility and massively enhance safety.

Wondering what else you should know about handrails? Here the team at HR Kilns cover all the basics you need to be aware of.

Why have handrails?

According to reports from the Health and Safety Executive, falls from a height are one of the most common causes of fatal injury to workers. Given the sharp nosing of steps and seriousness of the injuries they can inflict, falling down stairs is likened not only to falling from a cliff but tumbling onto the rocks below.

Some 53% of all fatal injuries due to falls occur in the construction sector. But it’s not only building sites where we need to have our wits about us. Any workplace or public area requires proper handrail provision – whether that’s the stairs to the office, a busy station platform or a ramp to enable wheelchair access.

What handrails offer

Safety is the number one reason for any handrail to be fitted. They can quite literally be the difference between life and death.

A secure rail provides:

A steady anchor – all ages and all abilities can benefit from a securely fitted handrail. Providing stable railing not only steadies users but provides a safe and constant anchor whilst negotiating stairs.  

– A barrier – do you have a one-way system in place? Could central handrails help to guide workers and direct footfall? Handrails have a dual purpose. Yes, they assist people in safely navigating stairs, but they can also act as a barrier, helping to guide and control access.

– Something to grab – in the event of missed footing, a trip or simply losing balance, handrails are a great safety line. Providing a secure fixing to grab hold of and reducing the risk of a serious fall.  

What are the rules around handrails?

It’s essential to consult all available guidance fully to ensure any handrail provision is fully compliant and meets standard safety obligations.

Approved Document K and British Standards BS6180 offer a wealth of information around the requirements of handrails in various environments, with BS 4592-0:2006+A1:2012 focussing on industrial use.


How many handrails do you need?

As a general rule, a staircase less than 1m wide requires one handrail. A staircase over 1m wide requires a handrail on both sides.

To maximise safety, and in areas where there are young children or users of all ages, fitting multiple handrails at varying heights is worth considering to deliver optimum safety.

What material should handrails be made of?

Wherever you’re considering installing a handrail, it’s unlikely you’ll want to spend time and money on regular maintenance and safety checks. To avoid this, you need a handrail you can rely on to be strong and durable, and that will require minimal upkeep.

This is where handrails made from glass reinforced plastic (GRP) come in.

Boasting all the features GRP is favoured for – including being non-conductive, hardy to all weather conditions, strong and highly corrosion resistant – a GRP handrail is hugely cost-effective both in terms of time and money. Offering a safer, longer-lasting alternative to traditional handrail systems.

With no risk of rot (a danger associated with wooden handrails) and no need for repainting or regular treatments, GRP handrails are low on maintenance, high on performance.

Additional handrail safety tips

Make regular checks

Whilst GRP handrail systems dramatically reduce maintenance requirements, regular checks to ensure the fixings of any handrail system are secure, will be needed to maintain safety.

Use colour

Handrails in bright colours can be a great safety advantage, making rails highly visible.

Ensure continuous grip

A handrail should provide continuous grip. There should be no obstacles or fittings that require the user to release their grip mid-transit. 

Order GRP handrails

If you’re looking for a reliable, cost-effective alternative to conventional wooden or metal handrails, then take a look at the GRP options available from HR Kilns.

Whether for commercial or industrial use, our modular railing system can be fitted almost anywhere. Provided pre-built to your drawings or flat packed, cut to size, and ready to be built on-site.

Want to find out more? Visit GRP handrails or get in touch with a member of the team.

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