Are Open Staircases Safe for Children?

Are open staircases safe?

This is a question we are asked on a regular basis. The simple answer is that a staircase designed and built to UK regulations IS deemed to be safe.

UK regulations state that no part of a staircase or balustrade must have gaps of more than 100mm. Known as the “babies head rule” a sphere of 100mm diameter must not be able to pass through ANY gap. This includes spacing of balustrade uprights and gaps between treads.

Yet, this is not the whole story – the treads must have an overhang no less than 16mm. This overhang makes it harder for objects to pass through. Consequently, Bisca recommend increasing this overhang for an added feeling of security and comfort.

It’s impossible for infants to fall through an open staircase conforming to Building Regulations. However, if you have any concerns, then there are a few options you may wish to consider as part of the design:-

1. Increase the tread overhang

. The majority of Bisca staircase designs feature an increased overhang.

compliant overhang for open staircases Bisca

Compliant & Non Compliant open staircase treads



2. Install a baby-gate or dog-gate

. Incorporating a removable gate as part of the staircase design is an option.

Glass Dog gate on open staircase by Bisca

Dog or baby gates can be incorporated into your staircase design



3. Fit riser bars or upstands to treads

. Bisca can design temporary riser bars as part of any design,. These can be timber, steel or perspex and be removed completely as toddlers progress towards teenagers!

riser bar solution on open staircase by Bisca

Riser bar solution on open staircase

Glass Upstand on Bisca Staircase

Glass upstand solution on open tread overhang




Why do I keep seeing pictures of “dangerous” staircases in popular design & self build titles?

It’s common to see staircase pictures in UK publications that do not conform to UK building regulations. As a result, there is confusion about what is safe and what is not. For example, stairs without balustrades or balustrades of an open design/vertical wires do not conform to UK regulations. UK building regulations are more stringent than those in force in mainland Europe. Staircases by manufacturers from this region may not conform to UK regulations.

The majority of imported modular, custom or kit staircases may need some modification to get signed off by your building inspector.

To talk to one of our design team about open rise staircases please contact us via the website or on 01439 771702. Our designers will work with you to get the look you want.

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