In brief - Proposed changes designed to prevent tragic
The Australian Building Codes
Board has released the draft of the BCA proposed to commence in
May 2013. The amendments relate to safe access and movement. BCA
2013 includes new provisions for openable windows and horizontal
balustrades to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls.
The proposed changes are in response to several tragic incidents
in Sydney where children have fallen from windows.
Openable windows to be fitted with screens or locks
Barriers or locks are required to be fitted on openable windows
in early childhood centres and in habitable rooms of residential
buildings (including apartments and multi-storey homes) where
windows are more than two metres above the ground.
Openable windows will be required to be fitted with a screen, or
the window opening will be required to be limited to 125
millimetres to prevent children from falling from heights. The
Australian Building Codes Board estimates that 80 per cent of
windows will be fitted with locks and the remaining 20 per cent
Balustrades designed to prevent children from climbing
Where the floor of a veranda, mezzanine or the like is more than
two metres above the ground (rather than the current standard of
four metres), balustrades are required to be non-climbable.
Therefore, any horizontal elements between 150 millimetres and 760
millimetres above the floor must not facilitate climbing.
A concession is proposed to be given for balustrades between two
and four metres above the floor so that the handrail may be kinked
inwards by not less than 150 millimetres, making it difficult for
children to climb the balustrade.
Degree of slip resistance of pedestrian surfaces to be
Presently the BCA requires stair treads to have a slip resistant
finish or a non-skid strip near edges, however, the level of slip
resistance required is not specified. Slip resistance values in
AS/NZS 4586 Slip resistance classification of new pedestrian
surface materials are proposed to be adopted.
Buildings constructed in flood prone areas must resist
flotation, collapse and movement
New standards are proposed in the BCA 2013 for construction of
new buildings and alterations and additions to existing buildings
in flood prone areas. The changes are specific to classes of
buildings where people may sleep, reflecting the life safety
purpose of the changes.
There is a new BCA 2013 standard entitled "Standard for
Construction of Buildings in Flood Hazard Areas" together with
an explanatory book. Buildings must be designed and constructed to
resist flotation, collapse or significant permanent movement as a
result of flooding. There are also new BCA definitions for defined
flood events and flood levels, flood hazard areas and flood hazard
This article is only short summary of the proposed BCA changes
and further changes are proposed.
New proposals for changes can be submitted by 1 February 2013
for consideration as part of future BCA editions.
Many retail leases include a covenant to trade, requiring the tenant to open the premises for trade during certain hours.
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