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How do Part M regs apply to tactile studs and strips?

Part M of the Buildings Regulation 2010

Part M or Approved Document M refers to governmental guidance surrounding the access and use of buildings for those visitors or occupants who are disabled.  It’s implemented to ensure safe and easy movement through a building.

What does Part M cover?

Part M covers:

  • Wheelchair access i.e., ramps, slopes, lifts
  • Communal entrances
  • Circulation areas and internal doorways
  • Sanitary facilities i.e., toilets and washrooms
  • Services and controls i.e., doorbells, entry phones or intercoms, aerial and phone jacks
  • Car park and drop-off areas
  • External and internal stairs
  • Private entrances and stairs
  • Habitable rooms i.e., living, kitchen, and dining areas
  • Bedrooms

Does Part M cover the use of tactile studs or strips?

Yes and no. A commonly asked question is whether a certain type of stud is Part M compliant, and the truth is that within the framework of the guidance tactile studs aren’t really mentioned, at least not directly. There are however guiding principles within the framework that do apply to tactile studs but are framed much more broadly. The question asked around tactile studs usually surrounds whether they’re appropriate for use as tactile warning indicators for stairs.

Part M has this to say about tactile indicators and stairs:

“With the exception of the need for hazard warning surfaces on landings, other design considerations for internal stairs are as those for ‘Stepped Access’. It is not reasonable to require a hazard warning surface at the head of internal stairs since there is no recognised warning surface for use internally which can be guaranteed not to constitute a trip hazard when used alongside flooring surfaces with different frictional resistance characteristics.”

As it currently stands there is no official guidance on the use of hazard warning surfaces internally, although efforts have been made by various groups to encourage the government to investigate their use indoors.  The general suggestion has been to adhere to the Department of Transport’s current guidance surrounding the use of tactile surfaces. This would mean using a flat-top corduroy pattern at the top and bottom approach to the stairs, that possesses a similar friction coefficient and contrasting colour to the surrounding surface.

What parts of Part M apply to tactile studs and strips?

The only section of Part M that could be interpreted to reasonably apply to tactile studs, strips, or hazard warning surfaces is the LRV or light reflectance value. LRV is the total quantity of visible light reflected by a surface at all wavelengths and directions when illuminated by a light source. This is characterised as luminance contrast in tactile studs and strips. Metal tactile studs and strips have a high LRV, whereas studs with coloured tactile inserts will vary depending on colour and insert material.

Going off the hesitancy to recommend any given values or implementations of hazard warning surfaces internally it would be reasonable to recommend proceeding with common sense. Common sense in drawing from existing guidance surrounding the use of hazard warning surfaces or tactile indicators, like that of the Department of Transport.