Approved Document K covers the Building Regulations 2013 update of the legal requirement to offer protection from ‘falling, collision and impact’ relating to glazing, access and staircase regulations in the UK. This document can be updated from time to time, to meet new legislation, so we’re going to cover the key points plus any new updates to the rules. Document K has detailed safety measures to be followed when designing staircases, ramps and ladders, as well as the position of balusters (also known as spindles), windows and vehicle barriers to avoid injuries - both inside and outside. This applies to most buildings. Building regs Part K is for Building Regulations in England, as well as building work carried out on excepted energy buildings in Wales. In-depth guidance for avoiding user injuries is set out in the positioning of doors and windows within a building.
Building Regulations Approved Document K is separated into 6 main sections:
K1 - stairs, ladders and ramps
K2 - protection from falling
K3 - vehicle barriers and loading bays
K4 - protection from impact with glazing (encompassing parts K5.1 through to K5.4; collision with open windows, skylights and ventilators, safe opening and closing and access)
K6 - protection against impact from, and trapping by, doors
The updates to Part K building legislation now incorporates Approved Document N: Glazing and Approved Document M: Access to and use of buildings. Building regs Part K guidance is especially relevant for loft conversions, as it covers both windows and building regulations on stairs which go up to the new attic area.
The main change, which came into effect on 6th April 2013, is that:
Harmonised standard references for ‘safe breaking’ and testing methods, and the National Annex for the resistance of barrier loads have also been updated.
Importantly there are no new technical requirements from the previous 2010 version covering building regulations on stairs.
The latest edition of Approved Document K also includes updated advice on avoiding impact or collision when positioning windows and doors, so that a person can’t be accidentally injured or trapped, and still requires glazed doors and windows to be marked appropriately to avoid someone walking into them (as per section 14(1)(b) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992).
The Building Regulations 2010 cover the construction and extension of all buildings. These regulations are supported by Approved Documents. Each of the Approved Documents offer detailed practical guidance to meet the legislation. Remember that building regs approval is different to planning permission and you may need both for your project. There are several steps to take in order to meet the requirements of Approved Document K Building Regulations. Let’s look at each section to break down what each area covers.
K1 relates to ladder, ramp and staircase regulations: ‘Stairs, ladders and ramps shall be so designed, constructed and installed as to be safe for people moving between different levels in or about the building’. This means that the steepness, step rise/size, headroom space and the use of handrails must be safe and appropriate for use. It also covers minimum landing sizes for buildings. Refer to the detailed diagrams in Approved Document K for exact tread, size and rise requirements, to meet building regulations on stairs, for private dwellings, utility stairs or general staircases. K1 also now covers internal and external ramp steepness and size, when they are part of the building (additional information is shown in Approved Document M for other outdoor entrances and wheelchair ramps in car parking areas etc).
‘Any stairs, ramps, floors and balconies and any roof to which people have access, and any light well, basement area or similar sunken area connected to a building, shall be provided with barriers where it is necessary to protect people in or about the building from falling’. You must use suitable guarding to prevent injury from falling in any area where people have access, such as roofs, balconies or large windows. The minimum height for areas in domestic and non-domestic buildings is set out. Guarding must resist the minimum loads given in BS EN 1991-1-1.
‘Vehicle ramps and any levels in a building to which vehicles have access, shall be provided with barriers where it is necessary to protect people in or about the building. Vehicle loading bays shall be constructed in such a way, or be provided with such features, as may be necessary to protect people in them from collision with vehicles.’ Approved Document K covers barrier height, exit points and appropriate use for various types of buildings.
‘Glazing, with which people are likely to come into contact whilst moving in or about the building shall: (a) if broken on impact, break in a way which is unlikely to cause injury; or (b) resist impact without breaking; or (c) be shielded or protected from impact’. The diagrams in this section show safe locations for glass doors, panels and windows. All glazing must meet Class 3 of BS EN 12600 or Class C of BS 6206.
Section K5.1 applies to non-dwellings, and states that ‘Provision shall be made to prevent people moving in or about the building from colliding with open windows, skylights or ventilators’. It covers installation and features which can help with user safety.
K5.2 also applies to non-dwellings and states ‘Transparent glazing, with which people are likely to come into contact while moving in or about the building, shall incorporate features which make it apparent’. This can include locations, styles and window stickers to help improve safety for users.
Applying to non-dwellings, ‘Windows, skylights and ventilators which can be opened by people in or about the building shall be so constructed or equipped that they may be opened, closed or adjusted safely’. People must be able to open and close windows safely. Additional guidance is covered in Approved Document M for switches and controls.
‘Provision shall be made for any windows, skylights, or any transparent or translucent walls, ceilings or roofs to be safely accessible for cleaning’. This applies to both inside and outside and each project must meet the minimum requirements stated, so that window cleaning can happen safely. Note that this does not apply to dwellings.
‘Provision shall be made to prevent any door or gate: (a) which slides or opens upwards, from falling onto any person; and (b) which is powered, from trapping any person. (2) Provision shall be made for powered doors and gates to be opened in the event of a power failure. (3) Provision shall be made to ensure a clear view of the space on either side of a swing door or gate’. The diagrams in Approved Document K part K6 shows the minimum requirements to improve safety in a property, to stop doors or gates from injuring people, and to make sure they can still be opened manually in a power cut.
Building Regulations approval is required for new construction work or renovations, including extensions, new staircases, loft conversions, window replacements and other property alterations. Part K building regs details which requirements include dwellings, and which do not, so not all aspects will necessarily apply to every build. You can find more information on all required Building Regulations on our dedicated Travis Perkins Building Regs hub. You can apply for Building Regs approval here.
Disclaimer: Information displayed in this article is correct at the time of publication, but note that legislation changes periodically. Please refer to the latest publication of each approved article. The information contained on this page is intended as an overall introduction and is not intended as advice from a professional building control officer. The definition of ‘building work’ and when Building Regs approval is required is set out here. Travis Perkins aims to avoid, but accepts no liability, in the case that any information stated is out of date. Always consult the approved local authority building control team when considering any exemptions, and before undertaking any work.