Open Staircases & Children

Are open staircases safe for small children and infants?

This is a question we get 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.  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.
2. Install a baby-gate or dog-gate. Incorporating a removable gate as part of the staircase design is an option.
3. Fit riser bars to treads. As part of the design, Bisca can design temporary riser bars to fix to the treads. These can be timber, steel or perspex and be removed completely as toddlers progress towards teenagers!

As part of the staircase design, Bisca can include baby-gates or dog-gates. These, like the riser bars, are removeable without trace when no longer needed.

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

It’s common to see images in UK publications of staircases that do not conform to UK building regulations. For example, stairs without balustrades or balustrades of an open design/vertical wires. 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

Next: Metal Balustrades | Wrought Iron Misunderstood

Previous: Winners Northern Design Awards | Best Product Design