Public Safety - Building Regulations South Africa
Nov 152011

Even at Home Public Safety is Paramount

PoolSafety1 s Public SafetyAll 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.


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.

Part D Motor vehicle ramp or driveway 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,
Pool Enclosures Fences Public Safety

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.

  43 Responses to “Public Safety”

Comments (42) Pingbacks (1)
  1. Hey

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

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

  3. 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

    • Yes Theuns definitely.

      • 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

  4. 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

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

  5. 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?

    • 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.

  6. 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.

    • 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.

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