Do your balustrades meet the South African safety requirements?

Are you designing, renovating or building? During this time, you may get excited about how the project will look and feel. You’re also probably wondering if there will be enough space, lighting, storage space, warmth and comfort. All these elements are extremely important. But, one very big aspect is often overlooked:


Safety is one of the most important elements of any building. People overlook it because it is frequently seen as something that influences a design space negatively.

Luckily, you can align safety elements, such as balustrade systems, with your building’s design. And, these elements can even enhance how your space looks.

According to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), balustrading is a structural system that impedes accidental or inadvertent passage of people and objects between the areas that it separates. The national specification body South African National Standards (SANS) prescribes the rules, regulations and legislation applicable to construction safety in South Africa.

If your balustrades are not installed under the SANS guidelines, this can result in a structural failure or injury at some stage.

Here are some of the elements that are included in SANS 10400 – the standard regulating balustrade safety regulations in South Africa:

Type of balustrade

There are usually two types of balustrades

  • Top-mounted balustrades must be installed into a core-drilled pocket with a depth of a minimum of 120 mm. It must also be secured with a suitable non-shrink cement-based grout.
  • Side-mounted balustrades should always be impact drilled. It should be fixed with suitable chemical anchors.

Change in level

If there is any change in level in excess of 750 mm, the installation of a SANS-compliant balustrade is necessary. Even staircases with a rise in excess of 750mm must also be fitted with a balustrade that is SANS compliant.

Residential use

There are different requirements for balustrades used in residential areas than those used in public areas. Balustrade safety regulations in South Africa for residential use require that there might not be an air gap greater than 100 mm anywhere in or along the system, and it should have a minimum height of one meter.

Swimming pool

For swimming pools that are accessible from the road, the balustrades around the pool must have a minimum height of 1.2 meters and must contain a self-closing gate. In order to prevent climbing, there are no horizontal elements allowed in the balustrades.

When looking for a contractor to install balustrades in a residential or public space, ensure the contractor is registered with its applicable statutory body and conforms to the SANS requirements. Do thorough checks and ask the contractor for references before you make a decision.

While it might seem like a lot of work, safety and especially balustrade safety regulations in South Africa should always be your and the contractor’s first priority.

For a reputable and SANS compliant balustrade contractor, contact Fed Glass today.


  • Hi, if a balcony has a drop of 850mm, which SANS number an I quote my landlord? They need a “law” before they install a balustrade.

  • If I have a balcony wall that is 40cm from floor height, can I install a metal or wooden balustrade on top of that of 60/80cm to comply with the minimum height of 1m for balustrades?
    Or does the actual balustrade itself need to be 1m?

  • what is the maximum height of a patio wall before a balustrade is required, e.g. height, and what is the SANS number

    • You would need to contact the manufacturers of escalators like Otis or Schindler or Krone to give you clarity on the certification of their product. The glass on an escalator should have a stamp to confirm that it is toughened or toughened laminate glass. They will give you specs for that.

  • What is the minimum spec on a steel balustrades to be anchored in the floor on a 3.2 meter wide balustrade on a third floor unit should there be a pin anchored every 1.2 meters?

  • How do I ensure a proper inspection checklist is in place for industrial working areas for railings.
    What is a suitable test to ensure a railing remains safe.
    What is required by law.

    • An inspection checklist will usually consist of a competent person(engineer) inspecting the installation to make sure it conforms to SANS building regulations which may vary for different types of installations. When it comes to balustrades the points to look at is first that the height complies, minimum 1000mm from finished floor level, no gaps bigger than 100mm and then that the fixing of the railings is done properly. For more info on this, you can google the national building regulations for steel balustrades and railings.

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