Also see:
BS 5395-1


Handrails shall be correctly located and fixed to provide a firm handhold.

A handrail is required for flights of stairs that rise over 600mm. The handrail (throughout the full length) should:

  • be securely fixed and located in accordance with the design
  • be a vertical distance of 900mm–1000mm (or 840mm–1000mm in Scotland) above the pitch line
  • have a 25mm minimum clearance from any surface
  • ensure a firm handhold
  • have rounded ends or be returned to the wall to reduce the risk of clothing being caught
  • be continuous, smooth and unobstructed.

For tapered treads/winders, the handrails to the outside of the stairs should provide a safe handhold for the full rise of any stairs with a total rise greater than 600mm.

In England, Wales and Scotland, where the staircase has between one and four tapered treads/winders, the newel post may be used to provide a safe handhold. In Northern Ireland, a handrail should be fitted to the outside of all tapered stairs.

In England, Wales and Scotland, a handrail is not required on the outside of the stairs if the newels provide a safe handhold. There should be a minimum distance between newels of 100mm to provide a hand grip.

Where a handrail is needed, it should be continuous for the whole rise to avoid the need to change hands. At corners, the handrails do not need to join if they extend into the corner and provision is made for an easy transfer of a handhold from one handrail to another.