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Changes to the Access Provisions of Building Code of Australia 2015

  • February 17, 2015
  • Bruce Bromley

National Construction Code (and Building Code of Australia)

Building Code of Australia 2015 Volume 1 Cover

The National Construction Code (NCC) including Volumes 1 and Volume 2 of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) has previously been released on an annual frequency.

The current NCC 2014 remains in place until 01 May 2015 when the new edition is released as NCC 2015.

The great news for industry is that the NCC is being released for free with online access available and the ability to download the documents. This is a great initiative with building professionals and consumers being able to get their hands on the NCC without having to fork out hundreds of dollars.

Pre-registration for the online access started late last year and those that have already registered now have access to a free preview of NCC 2015 prior to the official adoption date of 1 May 2015. To register for access to the new on-line and free NCC 2015 visit https://services.abcb.gov.au/NCCOn-line/Account/Register

A Performance-Based Building Code

National Construction Code 2015 Performance Requirements Extract CoverTo recognise that the NCC is a performance-based code, the NCC now has a new document titled the ‘Performance Requirements extracted from the National Construction Code 2015’. The purpose of this publication is to emphasise that the Performance Requirements are the only mandatory requirements of the NCC. The document summarises the Performance Requirements from all three volumes of the NCC.

Compliance with these Performance Requirements can be achieved by following the prescriptive ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy’ approach outlined within each part of the NCC, adoption of a ‘performance-based’ approach, whereby ‘Alternative Solution’ designs can be developed that provide opportunity for new technologies, materials, innovation and flexibility, or a combination of both approaches can be adopted. You can read more about the use of ‘Alternative Solutions’ here.

A Summary of the NCC 2015, BCA Changes

BCA Volume 1, applies to all Class 1b and Class 2 to 9 buildings. The access requirements for new building works are outlined throughout various sections of the NCC 2015, BCA Volume 1 and these apply to car parking, external paths to buildings, building entrances and accessibility requirements within a building (which can include accessible or ambulant toilets, passenger lifts or platform lifts, stairs, ramps, hearing augmentation, exit signs etc.).

As far as the changes to the accessibility provisions of the BCA 2015 edition, there are very few. The following is a summary:

Clause D2.0, Clause D3.0 Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions

BCA Clause D2.0 ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions’ has been amended to include a new item when passenger lifts are used to assist occupants to evacuation a building:

D2.0 (c) Performance Requirement DP7 must be complied with if lifts are to be used to assist occupants to evacuate a building.

Additionally, BCA Clause D3.0 ‘Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions’ has also been amended to include a new item when passenger lifts are used to assist occupants to evacuation a building:

D3.0 (c) Performance Requirement DP7 must be complied with if lifts are to be used to assist occupants to evacuate a building.

Clause D2.16 Barriers to Prevent Falls

Though not strictly an accessibility provision, it is worth considering this Clause of the BCA, given the potential for a compliant accessible handrail arrangement to form part of an edge protection system. Clause D2.16 has been amended to simply the terminology of what constitutes a barrier, which includes along the edges of stairs landings and ramps (as well as decks, balconies, verandahs, mezzanines, access bridges or the like).

There is also the addition of Table D2.16(a), which now provides a much easier format to understand the requirements for barrier heights, barrier openings, and climbability aspects (the original Tables D2.16(a), (b) and (c) are now Tables D2.16(b), (c) and (d) respectively).

Clause D3.6 Signage

BCA Clause D3.6(a)(ii) has not been amended to allow some flexibility in how the level of a building is described or detailed on a Braille and tactile sign.

Previously, this Clause only required the word “Exit” followed by the floor level number. The new amendment, coming into effect on 1 May 2015 allows options. An extract of page 199 of the new BCA Volume 1 is provided in the image below, but the following is a summary of the requirements.

BCA Clause D3.6(a)(ii) now requires the word “Exit” followed by either:

  • the floor level number; or
  • a floor level descriptor; or
  • a combination of both

BCA 2015 Clause D3.6(a)(ii) Extract

Australian Capital Territory Appendix – ACT DP0.1 to DP0.5

The ACT has opted to adopt some of the Premises Standards concessions and Class 1b requirements within the BCA 2015, whilst most other States and Territories have amended their building legislation to reference the concessions (such as the Regulation 116 in the Victorian Building Regulations 2006).

These include:

  • DP0.1 Existing passenger lift or existing toilet concession Access to passenger lifts or toilets need not be provided in accordance with the requirements of Sections D, E or F, insofar as they relate to matters covered by DP0.2 or DP0.3, and specifically only relate to people with a disability, if the relevant concession in DP0.2 or DP0.3 applies.
  • ACT DP0.2 Lift concession (a) The requirement in Table E3.6(b) that a lift is to have a floor dimension of not less than 1400 mm x 1600 mm does not apply to an existing passenger lift that is in a new part, or an affected part, of a building, if the lift— (i)
    travels more than 12 m; and (ii) has a lift floor that is not less than 1100 mm x 1400 mm.
  • ACT DP0.3 Toilet concession (a) The requirements in F2.4 Accessible sanitary fixtures, to the extent that they require compliance with AS 1428.1 — 2009, Design for access and mobility, Part 1: General requirements for access — New building work, do not apply to— (i) existing accessible sanitary compartments; and (ii) existing sanitary compartments suitable for use by people with a disability; and (b) the sanitary compartment mentioned in paragraph (i) or (ii) complies with AS 1428.1—2001, Design for access and mobility, Part 1: General requirements for access — New building work.
  • ACT DP0.4 Application to Class 1b buildings (a) Where the BCA applies to the following kinds of Class 1b buildings, the provisions of NCC Volume One that indicate they apply to Class 1b buildings, apply only to the following kinds of Class 1b buildings, insofar as they specifically only relate to people with a disability—
    (i) a new building with 1 or more bedrooms used for rental accommodation; or (ii) an existing building with 4 or more bedrooms used for rental accommodation; or (iii) a building that comprises 4 or more single dwellings that are— (A) on the same allotment; and (B) used for short-term holiday accommodation.
  • ACT DP0.5 Meaning of certain terms Terms in ACT DP0.1, ACT DP0.2, ACT DP0.3 or ACT DP 0.4 that also have their meaning defined in the Disability (Access to Premises — Buildings) Standards 2010, determined under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth), have that meaning.
  •  ACT D1.102 Access for people with disabilities. Other requirements must be considered in respect of requirements for people with disabilities, including the ACT Territory Plan under the Planning and Development Act 2008 (ACT) and the Disability Discrimination Act 2004 (Commonwealth), and any further applicable amendments to this Appendix. Where additional provisions of the ACT Appendix to NCC Volume One have been made by instrument under the Building Act 2004 (ACT), relevant building work or buildings may comply with the applicable provisions, as permitted by the provisions. NCC Volume One users should check the latest ACT BCA appendices made under the Building Act 2004 (ACT) at: http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/2004-11/di.asp.

Australian Capital Territory Appendix – ACT Clause D3.4

ACT D3.4 Exemptions
(d) an area covered by, and in the respective circumstances covered by, and to the relevant extent provided for by, ACT DP0.1, ACT DP0.2, ACT DP0.3 or ACT DP0.4.

New South Wales Appendix – NSW Table D2.16(a)

NSW has opted to adopt an amended Table D2.16(a).

Other Appendices Access Requirements

At this point, it’s also worth considering other State and Territory specific access requirements that are detailed within the Appendices and have been around post BCA 2011, but may not be so obvious to users of the BCA.

South Australia Appendix – Table D3.1(a)

South Australia has taken a very positive step to improve the level of accessibility in Class 2 buildings by adding Table D3.1(a) which requires:

Class 2 In developments consisting of 20 or more residential sole-occupancy units

Australia access is required:

To and within one residential sole-occupancy unit or 5% of the total number of residential sole-occupancy units provided, whichever is the greater

South Australia Appendix – Clause SA F2.4

South Australia has added Table F2.4(a)(i) requiring not less than 1 accessible unisex toilet within every sole-occupancy unit required by SA Table D3.1a to be accessible.

Furthermore, South Australia has added Table F2.4(b)(i) requiring not less than 1 accessible shower within every sole-occupancy unit required by SA Table D3.1a to be accessible.

The Appendix does not however state how or to what level of standard each sole-occupancy unit must be accessible (given there is no such standard available, other than considering the Livable Housing Guidelines or AS4299 Adaptable Housing, and neither of which are referenced within SA Table 1 of A1.3).

The design must however consider the needs of people with disability and the elderly and consider the principals of Universal Design and Universal Access for people with a disability.

Tasmania Appendix – Performance Requirement DP10

Tasmania has introduced their own Performance Requirement within the Appendix – DP10, which states:

A building or part of a building must be accessible in accordance with the requirements of a Standard made under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Tasmania Appendix – Clause Tas D3.0 Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions

Clause D3.0 has been amended to include consideration of the new Tasmanian Performance Requirement DP10:

Where a Building Solution is proposed to comply with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions, Performance Requirements DP1 to DP6, DP8, DP9 and Tas DP10 are satisfied by complying with………..

Tasmania Appendix – Clause Tas D3.13 Compliance with the Premises Standards

Tasmania has created D3.13 which states:

(a)  A Building Solution must comply with the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010.
(b) A Building Solution complies with Tas D3.0(a) if it complies with the applications, exceptions and concessions in the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010.

Victoria Appendix – Clause Vic F2.101 First Aid Rooms

First aid rooms required by (a) must—(i) be distributed as uniformly as possible throughout the assembly building or open spectator stand; and (ii) be convenient to a public road; and (iii) be readily accessible from within and outside the arena or ground; and (iv)
have a floor area of not less than 24 m2; and (v) be provided with a suitable wash basin or sink.

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