Where there is a change in floor/ground level, guarding may be required to protect people from falling. Part K specifies the provision of guarding where the change in height is 600mm or greater in a single occupancy residential space or 380mm (or the height of two risers) in a publicly accessible space.
Where screens are provided in locations that are level to either side (or lower than the limits listed above,) guarding provision may not be a necessity.
However, whether guarding is a requirement or not, does not preclude the requirement for barrier loading on said screen. The building owner will expect a minimum level of robustness from walls and partitions in and around an occupied building. If they are not designed to meet the minimum loading requirements based on the occupation class, when loaded by occupants, the wall could fail leading to injuries.
As such, BS 6180:2011 defines a Barrier as an; “element of building or structure, permanent or temporary, intended to prevent persons from falling and to retain, stop or guide persons or vehicles”, this is likely to include any type of cladding or façade screen that is accessible whether or not it is covered by a guarding requirement, this would include those areas that are level adjacent to both sides of the screen or below the limits for guarding as per Part K.Further guidance is given in CWCT TN99 Design of glazed barriers.