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AS1428.1 Handrails & Balustrade – Full Guide 2024

Complying with AS1428- Handrail & Balustrade

The AS1428 provides minimum design requirements for new building work, to enable access for people with disabilities e.g. access ways and circulation space for people in wheel chairs. It determines access and movement in public buildings. It may also be applied to provide access in existing buildings. Particular attention is given to;
  • Continuous accessible paths of travel and circulation spaces for people who use wheelchairs
  • Access and facilities for people with ambulatory disabilities and
  • Access for people with sensory disabilities
This article focuses on the balustrade requirements to meet the AS1428 disability access code and where AS1428 compliance is required for balustrade and handrails.
Figure 1.1

Where balustrade needs to comply with AS1428

The following are the minimum requirements for balustrade/handrails under the AS1428 code;
  • The code requires a circular or elliptical handrail, with a minimum width of 30mm and a maximum width of 50mm (see Figure 1.1).
  • The handrail on a stair must be continuous down all flights and must extend to one tread depth plus 300mm horizontally past the top and bottom riser. On a ramp, however, the handrail may level out and terminate where the ramp finishes.
  • The inside handrail on a landing should always be continuous.
  • All handrails requires turndown ends of 180 degrees or alternatively, returned fully to the end post, floor or wall face (see Figure 1.2).
  • Handrails must be at same level throughout the stair/ramp, no more than 1000mm or no less than 865mm high throughout.
  • There must be a minimum 50mm space between the handrail and the wall and a 270 degree clearance on handrail is required at all times.
  • Handrail is required to both sides of the stair/ramp, with a minimum of 1000mm clearance between both handrails.
  • Therefore, a stairwell needs to be at least 1160-1200mm wide in order to allow for 1000mm clearance, 30-50mm handrail on each side (60-100mm) and 50mm clearance from the wall on both sides (100mm).
  • The handrail must have no obstruction to the passage of a hand along the rail.
  • The handrail shall have no vertical sections and shall follow the angle of the stairway nosings. There also needs to be a vertical clearance of 600mm above the handrail.
  • Balustrade/handrail to a ramp needs to have a kerb rail on either side at a minimum height of 65mm and maximum 75mm above finished floor level. A kerb rail is a bottom rail thats purpose is to prevent the wheel of a wheelchair from slipping off the ramp (see Figure 1.3).
  • Where the BCA code does not require tactile indicators on the ground, the handrails will require a raised tactile warning (domed button 10-12mm in diameter and 4-5mm high) on the top of the handrail and 150mm from the end of the handrail (See Figure 1.4).
The above is a summary explanation of the AS1428 disability access code for balustrading. For full AS1428 requirements you can visit
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Complete AS1428.1 Handrails & Balustrade Guide

AS 1428.1: Design for Access and Mobility

AS 1428.1 is an Australian Standard outlining design requirements for access and mobility in new buildings and alterations. It ensures people with disabilities can access and move around buildings safely and independently. This includes specific requirements for balustrades, which are critical for fall prevention.

Key Considerations for Construction Workers:

  • Understanding Balustrade Purpose: Balustrades are barriers along stairs, ramps, elevated walkways, landings, balconies, and other open edges. They provide support and prevent falls for people using these areas.

  • AS 1428.1 Requirements: The standard specifies dimensions, strength, and location for balustrades. Here’s a breakdown of crucial aspects:

    • Height: A minimum height of 900mm is mandated for balustrades measured vertically from the walking surface to the top rail. This ensures adequate support for most people.
    • Strength and Loading: Balustrades must withstand a minimum horizontal load of 450N (Newtons) applied at any point along the top rail. This simulates someone leaning on the balustrade for balance.
    • Gaps: Gaps between balusters (vertical bars) should not exceed 100mm to prevent a child’s head from getting trapped.
    • Handrails: A continuous handrail must be installed along the top of the balustrade. The handrail should be between 900mm and 1000mm high, with a diameter between 32mm and 45mm for ease of gripping.
    • Location: Balustrades need to be positioned close enough to the walking surface to provide proper support. The maximum distance between the wall and the inside of the handrail is typically 40mm.
    • Extensions: Balustrades should extend horizontally a minimum of 300mm beyond the top and bottom steps or the beginning and end of a ramp to provide support when entering or exiting.
    • Materials: Balustrades can be constructed from various materials like timber, metal, or glass, but they must meet the strength and stability requirements outlined in the standard.
  • Visual Contrast: For improved visibility, especially at night or in low-light conditions, the handrail and top rail should have a good visual contrast compared to the wall behind them.

  • Signage: Where a change in level exists and a balustrade is not provided (e.g., a single step), tactile ground surface indicators and warning signage should be installed to alert pedestrians with vision impairments.

  • Construction and Installation: Construction workers must ensure balustrades are built to the specified dimensions and installed securely using appropriate fixings. Substandard installation can compromise the safety of the balustrade.

  • Inspections: Balustrades should be inspected regularly to ensure they are free of damage, loose components, and maintain their structural integrity.

Additional Considerations:

  • Fall Clearance: While AS 1428.1 specifies balustrade height, it’s crucial to maintain adequate fall clearance beneath the balustrade. This prevents someone from falling through the gap between the balustrade and the walking surface below.
  • Handrail Continuity: Handrails should offer a continuous gripping surface throughout their entire length, free from interruptions or sharp edges.
  • Usability for People with Disabilities: Consider the needs of people with different disabilities. For example, some individuals may require a wider handrail for a better grip.


  • Standards Australia:
  • Your local building authority website will have information on relevant regulations and enforcement.


  • AS 1428.1 is a minimum requirement. Project specifications may have stricter guidelines for balustrades.
  • Always follow the project’s specific requirements and consult with engineers or architects for clarification.
  • By understanding and adhering to AS 1428.1 regulations, construction workers can help ensure safe and accessible environments for everyone.
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