01.05.2015

New Provisions for Slip Resistance Standards

BCA introduces a minimum standard for slip resistance of stairway surfaces

An amendment was made to the Building Regulations 2006 in April 2015 to reflect changes in the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The amendment, which came into effect on 1 May 2015, revokes Regulations 117 and 118, which referred to Victorian variations to the BCA relating to stair construction and fire hose reels.

The BCA 2014 introduced a minimum standard for slip resistance of stairway surfaces. However, this provision for Class 1 and 10 buildings was deferred in Victoria until 1 May 2015 to enable the industry to carry out testing of slip resistance products.

The new deemed-to-satisfy provision requires the treads or nosing to treads of a stairway to comply with a slip resistance classification when tested to Australian Standard AS 4586 – 2013 Slip resistance classification of new pedestrian surface materials. This applies to all finishes and surface types (such as carpet, tiles and vinyl).

Previously, the BCA had a performance requirement for treads or the nosing on treads to a stairway to have a slip-resistance walking surface. However, there was no deemed-to-satisfy provision in the BCA that provided a standard that the surface had to meet.

The new provision (Clause 3.9.1.3 g) in BCA Volume Two 2014 states that treads must have:

(i) a surface with a slip-resistance classification not less than that listed in Table 3.9.1.1 when tested in accordance with AS 4586; or
(ii) a nosing strip with a slip-resistance classification not less than that listed in Table 3.9.1.1 when tested in accordance with AS 4586.

The provisions in BCA Volume One have similar requirements.

Preparing for the new provisions

You need to consider all the finishes that you may install to the tread or the nosing of the tread of stairways and then approach the relevant manufacturers or suppliers to determine if the product they provide has been tested to comply with the slip-resistance classifications specified in the adjacent table. All tests should be undertaken by a NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) accredited facility. Visit www.nata.com.au for details.

For finishes such as carpet, tiles, slate, vinyl or rubber, the supplier or manufacturer may already have the necessary information and evidence that their product has been tested in accordance with AS 4586.

For timber stairs, where a stair manufacturer uses particular types of timber with recommended finishes, they could have these variants pre-tested independently. As long as the material and finish to the installed tread or nosing is the same, then the test report for that material and finish can be provided to the relevant building surveyor as evidence of meeting the deemed-to-satisfy provisions.

Timber stairs, particularly those with polished treads that are constructed on site, may require an on-site test once the clear finish has been applied to confirm compliance with the standard and BCA Table 3.9.1.1. The standard provides details of how the on-site tests are to be conducted.

These provisions will also be applicable to carpets used on stairways.