Public Safety

Even at Home Public Safety is Paramount-Part D

All home owners have a responsibility to people who visit their homes, or members of the public who are able to access their homes.

According to the National Building Regulations we must be concerned specifically with:

  • changes in level,
  • pedestrian entrances to parking area in all buildings,
  • ramps and driveways,
  • swimming pools.

Change in Level

If people can access a level other than ground level on your property, you need to be absolutely certain that they are not likely to fall off. Areas of special concern include balconies, flat roofs and in fact anywhere that is more than one metre above another level.

The most common form of protection in these circumstances will be balustrades, parapet walls, and some sort of handrail.

Pedestrian Entrances

Here the main concern is that people walking to their cars, bikes or whatever form of vehicle they are driving or being transported in can do so safely.

This is generally more of a problem for public buildings rather than private homes. However if there is any possible danger that someone might unintentionally walk in the path of a moving vehicle, make sure there is some sort of warning sign and lighting at night.

Ramps

The building regulations state that any ramp or driveway must be designed in such a way that it is “safe when used and is fit for the purpose for which it is intended”.

Concern here is more for semi-public buildings or places where groups of people are accommodated. However the guidelines suggested in the SANS are relevant for properties where there are two or more dwellings, as well as for other buildings where people live or stay:

  • ramps and driveways used by cars and similar vehicles should have a gradient of no more than 1:25 within a distance of 5 m from street boundaries the driveway crosses,
  • those used by pedestrians may be considerably steeper than this: a maximum gradient  of 1:8 is permitted,
  • if ramps and driveways are going to be used by pedestrians and vehicles, there should be a walkway that is at least 1,2 m wide, with a kerb that is at least 150 mm high.

The diagram below shows how this works for ramps and driveways.

public safety
Motor vehicle ramp or driveway

Swimming Pools

While the building regulations simply state that property owners must control access to their swimming pools, most local authorities have much stricter rules and regulations. Remember it is ultimately the local authority that will decide whether you must fence the pool.

And if you don’t comply with the local authority requirements and don’t control access, the regulations warn that you will be guilty of an offence. This is not the type of warning that is often seen in the national building regulations – so take it seriously!

SANS 10400 suggests several possible control mechanisms. For instance, you may install or build a fence or wall:

  • around the swimming pool and ensure there is a self-closing gate,
  • around the house and the pool and make sure that there is a self-closing gate at the entrance – and no other openings,
  • around the pool and the house, but in a way that leaves results in the front wall (and therefore the front door) of the house open to any area that is not walled or fenced,
Examples of safe swimming pool enclosures (extracted from SANS 10400 D)
Examples of safe swimming pool enclosures (extracted from SANS 10400 D)

There are also guidelines for protecting children from the potential hazards of swimming pools in SANS 10134: The safeness of private swimming pools. SANS 1390: Steel fencing for private swimming pools details SABS requirements for pool fencing and self-closing gates.

The SANS guidelines may be followed, providing they are in keeping with your local authority requirements.

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82 comments

  1. Doris Tredoux

    I am building a patio. The one side will be defined as ‘ change in level’ since it is about 2.5 metres from the ground. I am putting up a stacking window to enclose the area. Is there a minimum height for the wall below the stacking window?

  2. Not specifically Doris. The building regs don’t have a table of heights etc as such, although there are guidelines in terms of wall heights and so on. But there are so many different parameters it is impossible for me to give you a single answer. In any case, if you are enclosing part of the patio, you need plans. Safety would be the primary reason in this case.

  3. Hi,

    Would the public safety for pedestrian entrances be specific to that of parking inside a building or could it relate to a boomed off parking lot next to a public building?

    Thanks,
    Paul

  4. I think it would be relevant to all forms of parking, though a boomed-off lot will probably require additional regulations. You would need to check with the local authority because there is nothing other than the public safety clause in the NBR.

  5. We live in duplex in a complex of 6 side by side.
    All the duplexes have basically the same layout and all the geysers are installed above the stairs.
    One of our neighbours recently had a geyser burst and was told that if the new geyser were to be installed back above the stairs it would pose a health and safety risk and not be covered under insurance. Is this a fairly recent change to the health and safety requirements and if so does this cover every geyser that is either wall hung or ceiling mounted in areas with foot traffic?

  6. I would like to know if the requirements for swimming pool fencing are the same throughout the country?

    Thanks.

  7. There is a national standard for the manufacture of steel swimming pool fencing namely, SANS 1390: Steel fencing for private swimming pools, but the requirements in terms of the provision of pool fencing differ according to local authorities. Here is a link to an article I wrote a few years ago about pool fencing in Johannesburg.
    Having said this, when SANS 10400: Part D, Public Safety was updated in 2011, they did attempt to standardize pool fencing. The “new” SANS states that “a wall or fence shall be provided by the owner of a site which contains a swimming pool or a swimming bath to ensure that no person can have access to such pool or bath from any street or public place or any adjoining site other than through:
    a) a self-closing and self-latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence, or
    b) a building where such building forms part of such wall or fence.”
    It also states that, “A wall or fence shall be provided in any interconnected complex which contains a swimming pool or swimming bath to ensure that no person can have access to such pool or bath from any street or public place or anywhere within the complex other than through a self-closing and self- latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence.”
    And that “Such wall or fence and any such gate therein shall be not less than 1,2 m high measured from the ground level, and shall not contain any opening that will permit the passage of a 100 mm diameter ball.”
    Further, “The constructional requirements of any steel fence or gate shall comply with the requirements in SANS 1390.” This is the Standard that I refer to in the article.
    SANS 10400 PArt D also states:
    “NOTE Additional methods, including pool covers and warning devices, for the protection of children from the hazards of swimming pools are provided in SANS 10134.”

  8. Apologies for taking so long to reply to your query. Somewhere I have a copy of SANS 10254: The installation, maintenance, replacement and repair of fixed electric storage water heating systems, but unfortunately I moved recently and seem to have mislaid it. Plumbing isn’t my day job! If you can get to an SABS library, you can ask to see a copy of these standards and will immediately see what they specify. I don’t think it has anything at all to do with Health and Safety Regs, specifically the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
    The regulations show how the different types of water heaters (geysers) should be assembled and where various valves should be fitted to make the installation safe. This is far more important than specifically where the heater is located.
    Geysers are commonly located in the roof space of houses (as you say) – and we walk below it. I can’t see how installing a geyser above stairs would be any different.
    Your neighbour should question exactly what the insurance company means, and where they CAN put the new geyser to ensure that they are covered. I’d be very interested to find out, and will happily make the call if you give me the name of the insurance company concerned.

  9. Hi,
    Looking for info on ramps and noted this “those used by pedestrians should not be this steep, and should only have a maximum gradient of 1:8”. The “this steep” you are refering to is 1:25 which is not as steep as 1:8. Confuses the issue I think and makes me doubt other info!

  10. Hello Niki, Thank you for pointing this out – it is a stupid mistake! I have rectified it.
    I have also ‘scanned’ through the ‘new’ SANS 10400 on public safety (Part D) and these are the references it makes to ramps.
    First of all this is what the Act says:
    D3 Ramps
    Any ramp or driveway shall be so designed that it is safe when used and is fit for the purpose for which it is intended.”
    The SANS says:
    4.3 Ramps and driveways
    In any building that is not a building classified as H4*1, or on any site on which such building is situated, any
    a) ramp or driveway used by motor vehicles shall have a gradient of not more than 1 in 25 within a distance of 5 m from any street boundary crossed by such ramp or driveway (see figure 1)*2;
    b) ramp or driveway used by pedestrians other than those ramps or driveways provided for the use of persons in wheelchairs, shall have a gradient of not more than 1 in 8 (see figure 1);
    c) ramp provided for the use of persons in wheelchairs shall be in accordance with the requirements of SANS 10400-S; and
    d) ramp designed for use by both vehicles and pedestrians shall have a walkway not less than 1,2 m wide which shall be provided with a kerb not less than 150 mm high.
    *1 Part A: General Principles and Requirements (in the Act itself) defines the classification and designation of occupancies. H4 = Dwelling house Occupancy consisting of a dwelling unit on its own site, including a garage and other domestic outbuildings, if any
    *2 I have added the drawing.
    Thank you again for taking the time to point out the error. I hope this additional information helps.

  11. Swimming pool regulations.

    Where do i find a copy of the above?

  12. Mr Vorster, you will see that Part D, Public Safety of SANS 10400 (covered on this page) deals with swimming pool fencing. SANS 10134, The safeness of private swimming pools & SANS 10209, The design and construction of private swimming pools are two other Standards that relate to swimming pools. Here is a link to the SABS web store.

  13. Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the challenges.

    It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

  14. Hi

    I am looking for building regulations for school swimming pools.

  15. Hi Gerda,
    There is nothing that we can find specifically for “school swimming pools”. The SANS 10209 The design and construction of private swimming pools is the standard. SANS 10400, Part D: Public safety – 4.4 Swimming pools and swimming baths deals with walls and fences – and safety elements, including access, rather than construction. I am sure as an established swimming pool company you have these on hand.

  16. How many toilets should a work place have?

  17. Hi Michael,
    The building inspector at Tubatse Municipality should have all these figures. You will find a table that we have put up for your information here: /drainage/

  18. Please can you tell me what the Johannesburg Council height requirement is for a swimming pool fence.

  19. Alan – there is nothing about pool fencing in the Jo’burg town planning regulations, but I wrote an article about this very subject a couple of years ago. I will check whether anything has changed and post it on our sister site Owner Building, in the next couple of days. I’ll email you when it is up.
    Part D, Public safety of SANS 10400 says this:
    4.4 Swimming pools and swimming baths
    4.4.1 A wall or fence shall be provided by the owner of a site which contains a swimming pool or a swimming bath to ensure that no person can have access to such pool or bath from any street or public place or any adjoining site other than through (see figure 2)
    a) a self-closing and self-latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence, or
    b) a building where such building forms part of such wall or fence.
    4.4.2 A wall or fence shall be provided in any interconnected complex which contains a swimming pool or swimming bath to ensure that no person can have access to such pool or bath from any street or public place or anywhere within the complex other than through a self-closing and self- latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence.
    4.4.3 Such wall or fence and any such gate therein shall be not less than 1,2 m high measured from the ground level, and shall not contain any opening that will permit the passage of a 100 mm diameter ball.
    4.4.4 The constructional requirements of any steel fence or gate shall comply with the requirements in SANS 1390.
    NOTE Additional methods, including pool covers and warning devices, for the protection of children from the hazards of swimming pools are provided in SANS 10134.
    You can download SABS 0400 from our downloads page to see the drawings. They are exactly the same in the new regs.

  20. Hi,

    I am looking for the maximum allowed gradient for ramps in commercial parking garage / parkades.
    Surely it can be steeper than 1:25? The ramps will only be used by vehicles. In addition, is there a minimum allowed slab height? (Irrespective of services etc)

    Your feedback is appreciated.
    Regards, Carl.

  21. Hi Carl,
    The Building Regulations Part D Section 4.3 Ramps and driveways says:
    a) ramp or driveway used by motor vehicles shall have a gradient of not more than 1 in 25 within a distance of 5 m from any street boundary crossed by such ramp or driveway (see Fig 1);
    b) ramp or driveway used by pedestrians other than those ramps or driveways provided for the use of persons in wheelchairs, shall have a gradient of not more than 1 in 8
    d) ramp designed for use by both vehicles and pedestrians shall have a walkway not less than 1,2 m wide which shall be provided with a kerb not less than 150 mm high.

    You can see the diagram Fig 1 on the “Public Safety” page
    I hope this helps.

  22. Regualtion D of the NBR deals with swimming pools and swimming baths but we experience that fish/Khoi ponds are sometimes up to a meter deep and open to the road or adjoining properties. Does this regulation has any bearing on this type of contruction ?

  23. Hi Andrew,
    As i understand the word “pool” or “bath” in the building regulations does incorporate any body of water from a small fish pond to a deeper koi-pond to a spa-bath and a swimming pool. Sans 10400-Part D 4.4 will apply and as you have no doubt read an extract is:
    “A wall or fence shall be provided by the owner of a site which contains a swimming pool or a swimming bath to ensure that no person can have access to such pool or bath from any street or public place or any adjoining site other than through;
    a) a self-closing and self-latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence, or
    b) a building where such building forms part of such wall or fence.”

    But why don’t you ask one of the guys in your office they should know. If this going to be enforced in your area please let me know so that we can do a story to inform people what the correct thing is to do, Thanks

  24. I have to say that I don’t agree. I don’t think that the NBR covers any type of “body of water” other than SWIMMING pools/baths. Ponds, fountains, rivers, streams on properties are just as dangerous, but I don’t believe that SANS 10400 takes these into account. However I think that people need to realize that they can be held liable if somebody was to fall into a koi pond and hurt themselves – or worse still, drown!

  25. Irma Lingenfelder

    Could you please advise me where I can obtain the prescribed height and specifications for railings on a upper floor balcony for a hotel?

  26. Subject:
    Front balcony wall
    Message:
    I am concerned that the front balcony wall at my front door is far too low and does not seem safe.
    Should there a height restriction on these walls?

  27. Screens, railings and balustrades are covered in Part M of SANS 10400, Stairways, and in this section, Public Safety.
    In the section on Changes in Level in Public Safety (Part D), the regulations state:
    “The edge of any balcony, bridge, flat roof or similar place more than 1 m above the adjacent ground or floor level shall be provided with a balustrade or parapet wall not less than 1 m in height, unless unauthorized access of persons thereto has been excluded by a physical barrier properly erected and maintained.”

  28. Irma, Screens, railings and balustrades are covered in Part M of SANS 10400, Stairways, and in this section, Public Safety.
    In the section on Changes in Level in Public Safety (Part D), the regulations state:
    “The edge of any balcony, bridge, flat roof or similar place more than 1 m above the adjacent ground or floor level shall be provided with a balustrade or parapet wall not less than 1 m in height, unless unauthorized access of persons thereto has been excluded by a physical barrier properly erected and maintained.”

  29. Does anybody know what the limit is regarding people numbers allowed in buildings for public use in relation to height of ceiling and size of the room? We are considering a house with business rights for use as a business where we need to accommodate certain numbers of people.

  30. Henry, Part A of SANS 10400 classifies different occupancies – a house with business rights is not a classification! But bylaws do sometimes allow you to convert or use a dwelling house (H4) or even a domestic residence (H3) and use it for business purposes. Part A also has a table for “Design Population” that says how many people are allowed per x square metre in specific occupancies.

  31. Thank you for this Penny. Are you telling me that a house with business rights does not fall into the classification of dwelling limitations? Wherre can I see a copy of this part a off SANS 10400?

  32. Henry, I have added the classification given in Part A of SANS 10400 for you to see what they cover. I have also added the table that shows numbers in terms of the people who can occupy each building. Let me know if you still have queries.

  33. Ptrotective golf netting
    I was forced to install a protective net nine months ago
    I obtained the permission directly from my neighbor.a verbal agreement, which I do not think he will dispute
    He has said he did not expect it to be so comprehensive and now says it should come down
    Correct correspondence from my body corporate was also obtained and I proceeded
    I did not get municipal permission thinking it was not necessary
    I would appreciate some comments
    Regards

  34. good day can you help me i just want to know if a farm that is been regstration as a loge and open for the public needed to provide building plans on new structure

  35. Yes Theuns definitely.

  36. Thanks Penny
    Now i needed profesional help the owner that i work is busy with new buildings on the loge and there is no plans for the buildings aswell as buildings that is already in use. the one that is currintly in progress is a very big health and saftey risk when i make him attend on that he tel me that i am (arogant en ek dink ek is slim ek moet my nie kom slim hou nie) n week after that conversation one of the walls was falling appart still is he busy cary on with the construction of the building. what can i do

  37. Report him to the local authority Theuns

  38. Rick I am struggling to understand the situation. But I don’t think you would need municipal permission for netting in any circumstance.

  39. I would like to find out more about the Municipal Bylaws regarding the fencing of private swimming pools in East London, Eastern Cape. As far as I can find out it is bylaw PN298/1973, but how do I get hold of a copy?

  40. i need a contact number to report my landlord who does not have a safety net or fence around the swimming pool

  41. Charmain, there is no one body that controls this. You need to phone your local authority.

  42. Hey

    What is the minimum height a handrail should be for a balcony with a staircase for a building used by children and adults?

  43. France you will find information about handrails in Part M, Stairways. The classifications relate to occupancy rather than specifically adults or children – see Part A, General Principles and Requirements.

  44. Good day to you are there any regulations that govern public safety within a retail store, my inquiry is in respect of a major retail store that allows customers to be pickpocketed despite their so called CCTV?

  45. Tony this is not a National Building Regulations issue, and I’m not sure it’s a public safety issue either. Rather it has to do with security. And I doubt that they are allowing it willingly – or knowingly.

  46. Daleen I have emailed the municipality and asked them to send you a copy of the bylaws. I have cc-ed you in the message. Alternatively phone them and ask how you can get a copy. It is not available for download off their website.

  47. Subject:
    Public Place entrance and Exit

    Message:
    Kindly send me the regulation governing the entrance/exit foyer area of a public place example a church where the foyer area might become a extention of the church when this area is filled with chairs resulting in that the exit become blocked and movement of people are extremely clogged and exit is blocked.

  48. Kobus you can access the building regulations at an SABS library. Unfortunately I cannot even advise which section would relate to your problem, but maybe their librarians can help you. The only possible advice I can offer is that in Part A of SANS 10400 a place of worship is classified as A4 (as you will see in the link I have given you) and in terms of “design population”, there should be at least one square metre allowed for each person using the area. It does not differentiate between different parts of the church. The exit being blocked could be a fire hazard – see Part T, Fire Protection.

  49. Afternoon

    In the case of a landscape retaining wall, which is slightly higher than a meter. What is the regulation I will have to adhere to? Will dense planting, to create a barrier, be sufficient?

    Regards

  50. Albertus, all retaining walls require plans.

  51. jurgens fritz

    What is the regulations for gate motor instalations eletrical must it have a isolator switch. Regards Jurgens

  52. Jurgens if you read the information on this website you will see that the National Building Regulations do not govern electrical issues.

  53. Niels Rudolph

    Dear all,

    we moved into a building where the geysers are installed in a rise ands secured by a door that has a knob lock – that a cild can turn. Thus a child can get access and would fit between the geyser and can fall 4 floors – this cannot be compliant?

  54. Did the ratio for parkings at retail stores change according to SANS 10400?

  55. Concerned about private swimming pool in Emfuleni area are Owners compelled to fence the pool or install a net or pool cover. I am renting a property and baby is 1 year and 4 months. Lourens

  56. This does not sound right to me. You should call your local council planning department and ask an inspector to have a look at the installation and give you advice.

  57. Dear penny
    Do I need a plan to build a koi pond. Intended size is 3m x 1,5m and 90cm deep. Thanks

  58. I don’t think so Selwyn. You don’t even need plans for swimming pools in Jhb any more. But there are safety elements in terms of access.

  59. Hi Penny, we are planning on building a small garden pool approx 6X6 in metres, I have read on this website that if the pool is within the 3m ruling to barrier then a plan is not required. However what is the ruling for the distance between house foundation and pool? I don’t just want to assume that the 3m rule applies. Thanking you in advance for your response. Shakirah

  60. Hi Shakirah, The 3m from your house does not apply. What does apply is to not compromise the house foundations if you want your pool to be right next to the house. In this case ask the pool contractors to give you an engineers report.

  61. Hi Penny,

    The building next door to us is an office block busy during the day. They have been renovating it for months now during the evenings, sometimes working until midnight! We live in a complex that borders it directly. Are they allowed to do this? Who can we get to help, the police only stop them for one evening at a time.

  62. I was injured by the Gautrain access gates slamming me. Bombela confirmed that I did use the gates correctly. They also confirmed that they knew about the problem yet preferred not to do anything to it. Similarly there are a number of areas where international building regulations are ignored. Trying to claim my expenses they simply indicated that their disclaimer protects them from any claim even in case of gross negligence. As I have if you cannot disclaim your safety responsibility. I was also advised that this no longer is gross negligence, as they knew about the condition it now becomes intent. Contacting the department of transport I was simply referred back to Bombela. This means they are free to expose more than 65000 people daily to unsafe conditions without any recourse for their action. Surely this cannot be true. What options do you have to take them on. Fortunately my expenses were limited, but hat happens if someone does get seriously injured or even killed because of negligence on their side.

  63. Barend this is not a building regulations issue. I suggest you contact an attorney. Alternatively you could contact someone with knowledge of the general health and safety regulations.

  64. This is totally illegal Jacques – here’s a link that gives the ours as allowed by law. You’ll need to scroll down. Local authority should be forced to stop them

  65. Ratios for parking at retail stores are not covered by SANS 10400!

  66. Lourens the bylaws are different in different areas. Generally if the pool is not accessible from the road they don’t worry too much. Check with the local authority. Alternatively, you may need to fence it yourself.

  67. I rented a flat in complex, as I was driving out with 3m trailer attached to long base Toyota hilux, the van went through but halfway the sensor of the electric gate could not pick up the trailer because as explained by company dealing with motor gate , the trailer is higher than the sensor placed on the gate that’s why it was closing after the van has passed. The only way to allow the passing is for manually overriding the beam sensor to allow both the van and trailer . The complex security saw the incident and when I ask why they did not stop us and help us to pass because he knew I had to block d beam so the gate remains open but he said its my responsibility and now I’m held liable to damage on the gate , what are the regulations with regard to electric gate , I did not have I any information regarding the mechanics of the gate , there is no sign or notice regarding the auto close time and size of the trailer the beam can sense. How can I fight this ? How is it my responsibility to know how to override the gate when I’m just moving in ?

  68. Good day

    What are the requirements that need to be adhered to regarding a entrance to a building that is operated with sliding doors to ensure safety for people enter the building when walking?

    Regards

    Clarice

  69. While this is public safety, it doesn’t relate directly to the NBR. Normally there would be marks on the glass so people can see the glass, and there may be other regs in the local authority bylaws. Contact them for more info.

  70. I wish I could advise you but I honestly don’t know. Perhaps you should contact companies that install electric gates; they might be able to advise. My gut feeling is that they are liable and not you. Can you afford a lawyer?

  71. Andrew Crouzer

    Good morning,

    Could you please confirm weather a 1.2m high wire mesh fence around the property will be compliant with the required Pool Protection ? My feeling is that it is not.

    Will appreciate your comments

    Thank you

  72. The regulations governing pool fencing can be found in local bylaws (i.e. not in the building regulations). However, pool fencing in SA should be manufactured to SABS specifications (though I am not sure that this is enforced) and it should be at least 1,2 m high with gaps that are no more than 100 mm. There should also not be any parts of the fence that allow people to climb over it (cross pieces for instance). also all games should be self-closing/self-locking.

  73. I just lost my 3 year old son. Due to drowning in a pond. Is their laws to have to have it fenced.

  74. Yes Darren there are. I am really sorry about your loss.

  75. Good day
    what is the minimum opening required for a gate opening at a town house complex as they have halved the gate and it is difficult to get in with a large car as there is literally mm on either side of the car who will be liable should contact be made with the gate and what would ahappen should an ambulance or even worse the fire brigade need to get in, please refer me to the correct regulation.

  76. Good day.
    I would like to know what the regulation is regarding safety beam height at exit gates at security estates. The gate closed against my car ( standard audi A4 ). The beam seems to be very high. Does not even pick up the front of my car. What will happen when the gate pins a child. Please assist.

  77. We are investigating the possibility of building a small pool in garden area of out cottage in an estate at KLeurbooms river. Please advise the security necessary and if we are required to approach the Bitou Municipality for permission. The Trustees have request4ed a hedge which has been planted but will take some time to grow.

  78. I don’t know what the Bitou Municipality requires. You should contact them

  79. Sorry I have no idea – this is not governed by the building regulations. It might be covered by local bylaws.

  80. Contact your local authority for the bylaws.

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