Guidelines For The Safe Use Of Stairways


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The employer must ensure:

  • Handrails, stair rail systems, and guardrail systems are provided as required;
  • Vertical clearance above any stair tread to any overhead obstruction is at least 6 feet, 8 inches (203 cm);
  • Stairs have uniform riser heights and tread depths between landings;
  • Stairway landings and platforms are at least the width of the stair and at least 30 inches (76 cm) in depth, as measured in the direction of travel;
  • Each stair can support at least five times the normal anticipated live load, but never less than a concentrated load of 1,000 pounds (454 kg) applied at any point;
  • Standard stairs are used to provide access from one walking-working surface to another. Winding stairways may be used on tanks and similar round structures when the diameter of the tank or structure is at least 5 feet (1.5 m).
  • Spiral, ship, or alternating tread-type stairs are used only when the employer can demonstrate that it is not feasible to provide standard stairs.


Step bolts: Step bolts are literally used as steps on steel communication and electrical transmission towers. Each step bolt is designed, constructed, and maintained to prevent the employee’s foot from slipping off the end of the step bolt. They should be inspected before use. They should be uniformly spaced, and any step bolt bent more than 15 degrees must be removed and replaced prior to use.

Manhole Steps

The employer must ensure that each manhole step is capable of supporting its maximum intended load. They should be made of materials that prevent corrosion. They should be uniformly spaced and should be designed to prevent the employee’s foot from slipping off the end. They should be inspected before use and maintained without defects.


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