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Guidelines for Fixed Stairways in Facilities

March 31, 2011

At offices, processing plants, marine and manufacturing facilities, it is necessary for stair treads to be properly installed to ensure workers’ safety.  According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the definition of a fixed stairway is a stairway that is either interior or exterior stairs serving machinery, tanks and equipment, and stairs to or from floors, platforms or pits.  The term does not apply to stairs intended for only fire exit purposes, to articulated stairs, or to stairs forming in integral part of machinery.

OSHA requires that stairs installed after October, 3 1983 should be positioned within the range of 30 degrees to 50 degrees to the horizontal with uniform riser height and tread width throughout each run and be capable of a minimum loading of 100 pounds per square foot and a minimum concentrated load of 300 pounds at the center of any tread span.

Other important guidelines OSHA provides are:

  • 1917.120(b)(2) Stair landings shall be at least 20 inches in depth.  Where doors or gates open on a stairway, a landing platform shall be provided.  Door swing shall not reduce effective standing area on the landing to less than 18 inches.
  • 1917.129(b)(3) Fixed stairs having four or more risers shall have stair railings or handrails complying with 1917.112(c)(1)
  • 1917.120(b)(4) Railing height from tread surface at the riser face shall be 33 + or – 3 inches.
  • 1917.120(b)(6) Maintenance.  Fixed stairways shall be maintained in safe condition and shall not be obstructed.

Besides ensuring stair treads are properly installed, companies and contractors should also consider the environment the stairs is being installed in to choose the best type of material for the stair treads.

  • Is the environment outdoors or indoors?
  • How much foot traffic are the stairs going to receive?
  • What type of fluids, materials and particles will the stairs come into contact with?

By answering these questions, companies and contractors can decide what the best material for their specific application would be.  A versatile material choice for safe stair treads is aluminum.  An aluminum tread is a lightweight and durable material that can provide safety to workers and pedestrians using stairs.

Another aspect of design and material choice companies and contractors can consider is a slip resistant metal material.  By installing a slip resistant material on stairs, companies ensure that the stairs will provide safety when in contact with fluids and materials that may affect the stair safety.  A slip resistant aluminum tread can provide workers with corrosion resistant safety and protection even when treads are slippery.

By reviewing OSHA’s guidelines to proper installation of stair treads and analyzing what environment stair treads will be placed in, companies can take proper measures to provide safety to workers on the stairs.

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