Operating Instructions Key Points

  • Consider inherent risks in the design
  • Occupants should be informed of risks and limitations
  • Consider emergency conditions in design

Inherent risks

By their very nature, balconies and balustrades are often at high altitude and form an edge protection. To reduce safety risk exposure or product issues, design must take appropriate precautions to achieve or exceed regulatory requirements and industry guidance.

Consideration of operating Instructions risks should include:

  • Climatic conditions – occupants should be aware that wind and weather conditions can vary significantly from that experienced at adjacent ground level. Particularly with decking, surface may become slippery if wet.
  • Safe working load – balconies are typically designed to resist a 2.5kN/m2 live load. Occupants should be prohibited from storing heavy items (paddling pools, large plants, etc) on the balcony
  • Fire prevention measures – users must take suitable precautions when using a balcony to smoke or cook etc.
  • Material properties – balconies often use products and fragile material like glass which must be carefully specified to avoid deterioration or failure but to also have suitable replacement strategies if required.
  • Child use – many balconies are used by children. Climbabilty, gaps, etc should be considered and appropriate regulation requirements fulfilled.

Emergency conditions

Whilst each project should have its specific O&M (Operation and maintenance) manuals for the balconies, emergency conditions must be part of the design considerations, so that if an emergency condition such as a product failed, the safety risk is minimised as quickly as possible. For example, with glass, should a glass panel fail through impact, vandalism or failure, this could result in an exposed edge and should have an emergency procedure.