The primary function of a balustrade is to act as a fence or guardrail often at great heights and that’s why safety is a key consideration in balustrade design and they are subject to strict requirements.
The Australian Standards for glass balustrades has changed significantly. AS1288 (2006) declared frameless glass balustrades non-compliant for protecting a fall of greater than one metre. The changes effectively outlawed the installation of fully frameless toughened glass panels as a balustrade on balconies that are more than 1 metre off the ground.
Prior to this update to the Australian Standard, fully frameless toughened glass balustrades were widely used, resulting in a high instance of buildings that don’t comply with current regulations. The logic behind the changes was simple – in the event of breakage, toughened glass combusts into thousands of tiny pieces making the risk of a fall very high as the glass balustrade gives way.
People leaning on a toughened glass balustrade, with their body weight off-balance, would not have much of a chance to react and avoid falling should a glass balustrade break.
Solutions have been developed to convert non-compliant glass balustrades so they meet the requirements of current standards, including the retrofitting of handrails and a new product, Sky glass.
A handrail can be retrofitted to existing toughened glass panels to achieve compliance. It’s important to note that there are clear definitions of what constitutes a compliant handrail including its strength and fixing points. A common misconception is that installing a basic channel to the top of frameless glass balustrades will be enough. A number of retrofit handrail systems in a variety of materials have been developed that are sympathetic to contemporary building design. There are, of course, certain situations where any handrail is not desirable.
A new Australian product developed by one of Express Glass’s suppliers, Australian Glass Group, Sky glass™, is a custom manufactured toughened and laminated glass which holds together in the event of a breakage. It is engineered to comply with Australian Standards for glass balustrading without the use of a structural handrail. Sky glass’s interlayer keeps the glass fragments together allowing the panels to remain whole and in place with minimal sagging. This provides a barrier and fall protection until a replacement is possible.
For owners of non-compliant balustrades who don’t want to alter the aesthetics of their balustrade with a solid handrail and want to maintain the glass look and feel of their balustrade, Sky glass offers a great solution.
While AS1288 (2006) declared frameless balustrades non-compliant for protecting a fall of greater than one metre, Sky Glass provides an expertly engineered solution that meets all safety requirements.
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