In a previous article we explained how Part K regulations affect building compliance on staircase and balustrade installations in order to prevent falls and collisions. In this article we explain how Part M building regulations will impact a project if the staircase or balustrade to be installed is in any way related to access requirements.
What are Part M Regulations?
Part M building regulations is an approved document which provides information about the ease of access to, and use of, buildings, including facilities for disabled visitors or occupants, and the ability to move through a building easily. The regulations are required to be applied in commercial properties when;
- a non-domestic building is newly erected;
- an existing non-domestic building is extended, or undergoes a material alteration
- an existing building or part of an existing building undergoes a material change of use to a hotel or boarding house, institution, public building or shop.
The document also provides guidance on the use of ramps and steps to provide ease of access, with information including safe degrees of pitch and dimensions when building a wheelchair accessible facility.
The construction of accessible stairs and corridors is also addressed, including the safe height of stairs and the accessible width of both corridors and stairs.
The document is broken down into three sections
- M1 – Access and use of buildings other than dwellings
- M2 – Access to extensions to buildings other than dwellings
- M3 – Sanitary conveniences in extensions to buildings other than dwellings.
From an Essential Projects perspective, we are interested in the specifications related to entrance staircases, and handrails or balustrade systems leading to external stepped and ramped access points.
How can Essential Projects help?
We feel it should be the aim of all contractors involved on any project to provide a suitable means of access for people from the entrance point at the boundary of the site, and from any car parking that is provided on the site, to the building.
We also feel it is our responsibility to ensure that any approach to a building, should take into consideration any changes in level that may be difficult for many people to negotiate, including wheelchair users, people who need to use walking aids and people with impaired sight.
In instances like this, Part K regulations and Part M regulations are very closely linked. Where there appears to be a conflict between the guidance in Part M and Part K, Part M takes precedence.
When working alongside contractors or architects during the preliminary stages of a stainless steel or steel handrail or ramp access project, Essential Projects provides this expert knowledge to ensure that these provisions are catered for in the initial design brief and technical drawings.
Ultimately, our role is to help you understand how Part M regulations need to be applied and bring our expertise throughout to ensure that the regulations are applied where required and that your project is compliant, stays on track and is cost-efficient.
If consulted at an early stage in the design process, our expert knowledge will help to eliminate any potential oversights and you will be confident that your design covers all areas of the regulations including:
- Gradients of ramped or stepped access
- Types of handrails to use on external stepped or ramped access
- Design considerations for internal stairs (Part K section 1)
If you need advice on how to apply Part M regulations to your next project, feel free to contact Essential Projects on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0115 975 5787.