Horizontal load requirements for balustrade

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Horizontal load requirements for balustrade

Horizontal load capacity is one of the most important performance requirements to consider for balustrade and other structures intended to retain, stop or guide people. However, when designing various types of built environment, it’s not a case of one load fits all: a low-traffic stairwell has different requirements to a busy theatre. The table below provides a useful guide to requirements in various categories. If you would like advice on the requirements of your specific built environment, please contact one of our experts.

LOCAL CONDITIONSUniformly distributed horizontal line load (kN/M)Uniformly distributed load on the infill (kN/m)Point load on the infill (kN/m)
Areas where people congregate without overcrowding e.g. stairs, corridors, landing, balconies, roof edges0.7410.5
Restaurants and bars, retail and public areas not subject to overcrowding and pedestrian areas in car parks1.51.51.5
Areas subject to overcrowding e.g. retail areas, theatres, cinemas, bars, auditoria, night clubs and assembly areas31.51.5


NB: the horizontal uniformly distributed line load should be assumed to act at a height of 1100mm above the floor or pitch line, irrespective of the height of the actual barrier. The three load types are not additive, but need to be treated as three separate load cases.