Grab rail, hand rail or rail by any other name!


Rails assist with balance, support and transfers so the selecting the right product for your needs as well ensuring compliance with standards such as AS1428 is important1,2. There are different types and applications….

Horizontal rails are effective for side transfers from wheelchairs onto toilets and can provide some forearm support during sit to stand transfers whereas the vertical or angled rails provide support throughout the sit to stand transfer. Often both are present. Either horizontal or vertical can be installed in showers depending on need and position of any existing fixtures3.
When selecting a grab rail, elements such as the material used, the finish, the diameter of the rail and the length of the rail4,5 need to be considered. Selecting the finish of rails in a contrasting colour will particularly benefit those experiencing visual impairments2. Installation needs to take into account the method of attachment, the position, material wall is made of, the location of studs in the wall and the clearance of the rail from the wall4,5.

Valuable resources are available from the UNSW Home Modification Information Clearinghouse and the Independent Living Centre of WA.

Image Courtesy of shutterstock

Image Courtesy of shutterstock


1.       CTA, 2018. Handrails and grab rails: Interpretations of the Australian standards AS1428.4. Retrieved from


3.       Govt SA, 2013. Grab rails: Clinical considerations for prescribers. Retrieved from

4.       Barlow, G. and Bridge, C. 2017. DIYmodify FactSheet : Choices for grab rails. ISBN:978-0-7334-3729-8. Available from

5.       DES SA, 2013. Disability information: Grab rails.  Retrieved from


KnowledgeAmy Bosnar