Building standards technical handbook 2019: non-domestic

The building standards technical handbooks provide guidance on achieving the standards set in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004. This handbook applies to a building warrant submitted on or after 1 October 2019 and to building work which does not require a warrant commenced from that date.

4.0 Introduction

4.0.1 Background

Safety has been defined by the International Standards Organisation as ‘a state of freedom from unacceptable risks of personal harm’. This recognises that no activity is absolutely safe or free from risk. No building can be absolutely safe and some risk of harm to users may exist in every building. Building standards seek to limit risk to an acceptable level by identifying hazards in and around buildings that can be addressed through the Building (Scotland) Regulations.

Deaths and serious injury to people in and around buildings occur in significant numbers from accidents involving falls, collisions, entrapment, scalding, electrocution or malfunction of fittings. Designers need to consider carefully all aspects of design to minimise risks inherent in any building.

Safety - good practice - not all issues relating to good practice are covered in this Technical Handbook. Publications by organisations including the Health and Safety Executive and the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) offer further information relevant safety of occupants of, and visitors to, buildings.

Accessibility - buildings should be designed to address safety and the welfare and convenience of building users. An inclusive environment is one within which everyone, regardless of age, disability or circumstance, can make use of facilities safely, conveniently and without assistance to the best of their ability. In this respect, other legislation also has a bearing on access in buildings.

The Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1 October 2010. The Act simplified and strengthened over 116 separate pieces of legislation (including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Disability Equality Duty 2006) into one single Act. Combined, they provide a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

It has a much wider remit than the building regulations, applying as it does to owners and operators of all buildings, new and existing, that lie within its scope. To assist parties who have a duty under this Act to familiarise themselves with its requirements, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a range of guidance literature. Designers, clients and developers should consider the duties imposed under the Equality Act and are recommended to study the legislation and guidance.

With respect to providing suitable access and facilities for people with a disability, consideration should be given to equality requirements including:

  • Equality law recognises that bringing about equality for disabled people may mean changing the way in which services are delivered, providing extra equipment and/or the removal of physical barriers. This is the ‘duty to make reasonable adjustments’.

  • The duty to make reasonable adjustments aims to make sure that a disabled person can use an organisation’s services as close as it is reasonably possible to the standard usually offered to non-disabled people.

  • If an organisation providing goods, facilities or services to the public or carrying out public functions, or running an association identifies barriers to disabled people in how it does things, it must consider making adjustments. If those adjustments are reasonable for that organisation to make, then it must make them.

  • The duty is ‘anticipatory’. An organisation cannot wait until a disabled person wants to use its services, but must think in advance (and on an ongoing basis) about what disabled people might reasonably need.

Access statements - many designers and developers are familiar with the use of an access statement as a means of assisting in the delivery of more inclusive buildings. This records how access issues have been considered and developed from project inception, through all stages of development, to the operation and management of a building.

Where design proposals vary from guidance within this Handbook or, in the case of a conversion where a standard is to be met as far as is reasonably practicable, relevant information extracted from a project access statement may assist in determining compliance.

4.0.2 Aims

The intention of this section is to give recommendations for the design of buildings that will ensure access and usability and reduce the risk of accident. The standards within this section:

  • ensure accessibility to and within buildings and that areas presenting risk through access are correctly guarded, and

  • reduce the incidence of slips, trips and falls, particularly for those users most at risk, and

  • ensure that electrical installations are safe in terms of the hazards likely to arise from defective installations, namely fire and loss of life or injury from electric shock or burns, and

  • prevent the creation of dangerous obstructions, ensure that glazing can be cleaned and operated safely and to reduce the risk of injury caused by collision with glazing or unsafe access to, and on, roofs, and

  • safely locate hot water and steam vent pipe outlets, and minimise the risk of explosion through malfunction of unvented hot water storage systems and prevent scalding by hot water from sanitary fittings, and

  • ensure the appropriate location and construction of storage tanks for liquefied petroleum gas.

4.0.3 Latest changes

The following is a summary of the main change that has been introduced since 1 October 2015.

  • Standard 4.14 - Introduction of a new standard and supporting guidance covering the provision of in-building physical infrastructure to facilitate the installation of high-speed electronic communications networks.

  • Appendix A - Additional defined terms added. Most of these new terms are as defined within Article 2 of EU Directive 2014/61/EU.

4.0.4 Relevant legislation

Listed below are some pieces of legislation that may be relevant and/or helpful to those using the guidance in this particular section.

The Equality Act 2010 sets out measures intended to end discrimination against people with disabilities in the areas of employment, access to goods, facilities and services, in the management, buying or renting of land or property, in education and in public transport.

The Workplace, (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 cover the key issues for inspection and enforcement by local authorities on matters relating to the physical characteristics of the workplace such as temperature, lighting, cleanliness and sanitary conveniences.

The Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 defines the duties of any party supplying electricity to premises with regard to matters such as supply, equipment, protection and provision of earthing.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 defines the duties of an employer to ensure and maintain a safe working environment with respect to any electrical installation within a building.

The Gas Safety (Installations and Use) Regulations 1998 require that any person who installs, services, maintains, removes, or repairs gas fittings must be competent. It covers not only materials, workmanship, safety precautions and testing of gas fittings but also the safe installation of all aspects of gas-fired combustion appliance installations.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. They place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person who controls the work of others, such as facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height.

4.0.5 Certification

Scottish Ministers can, under Section 7 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003, approve schemes for the certification of design or construction for compliance with the mandatory functional standards. Such schemes are approved on the basis that the procedures adopted by the scheme will take account of the need to co-ordinate the work of various designers and specialist contractors. Individuals approved to provide certification services under the scheme are assessed to ensure that they have the qualifications, skills and experience required to certify compliance for the work covered by the scope of the scheme. Checking procedures adopted by Approved Certifiers will deliver design or installation reliability in accordance with legislation.

The certification of construction (electrical installations to BS 7671) scheme has been approved by Scottish Ministers to confirm compliance with relevant standards in Section 4

Back to top