Home modification providers across Australia need to be aware of changes to the National Construction Code (NCC) 2016 which affect the construction of ramps. These changes came into effect at the beginning of May 2016.
Previously the Building Code of Australia specified a requirement for all domestic ramps (in Class 1 buildings, ie domestic dwellings) had to be "slip resistant". The changes introduced now require "acceptable construction practice" for slip resistance in ramps, with a minimum slip-resistance classification of P5/R12 for ramps exposed to weather. Section 220.127.116.11 requires that ramps not steeper than 1:8 are to have an R10 rating for dry surface conditions, and an R12 for wet. For ramps with gradient 1:20-1:14, the new requirement is higher than the 'deemed-to-satisfy' slip resistance classification required in class 2-9 dwellings.
We are grateful to our colleagues at HMInfo for bringing this to our attention. From their advice and our own analysis it is our understanding that this new level of slip resistance would apply to all newly constructed ramps, modular ramps and 'off-the-shelf' ramp products used for Class 1 housing (not just in new or renovated housing). It is possible that some of the products currently used for ramps may not comply with these new requirements, and this cannot be verified without the products undergoing testing. HMInfo are looking further into the possibility of testing for compliance, and we may need documented confirmation from suppliers in the future that the ramp material's surface meets these requirements at the time of installation.
In the short term it is likely that the current certification of compliance of ramps, against AS4568, will no longer be enough. MOD.A will work with HMInfo to get a clearer idea of what products may be suitable and what documentation will demonstrate compliance to the new standard.
Issues and actions
MOD.A is extremely frustrated with the lack of any notice provided to our sector about these very significant changes, and with no proposed regime in place to identify and test materials which may be suitable. We are approaching the Australian Building Codes Board about this matter, seeking an explanation of the process by which the changes were proposed and approved without, it would appear, any consultation with the industry most affected. We will also be informing government departments of the changes, as this may impact on the cost of the provision of ramps, which will have to be factored into pricing in the NDIS and other schemes which facilitate modifications through individualised funding. In addition to informing members we are also ensuring that occupational therapists are aware of the changes, though our networks and also through the OT Association.
We will do everything possible to keep members and the sector up to date with more information about this as we gather it, including ways that compliance can be guaranteed and documented. Until then MOD.A recommends providers weigh up the risks associated with the provision of ramps, and document the decisions taken to use materials for ramps in this period of time.
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