Safety in facilities is key to keeping workers safe and productive. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) was created by the United States congress in 1970 to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. OSHA is part of the United States Department of Labor and works with companies across the nation to ensure worker safety.
OSHA provides guidelines for proper installation and maintenance of stairs, ladders, flooring as well as training, worker safety and hazards. Specifically, OSHA has a set of guidelines for handrails installed and utilized in facilities. Not following OSHA’s guidelines could result in safety hazards for employees and pedestrians.
According to OSHA, handrails are defined as a rail used to provide employees with a handhold for support. Handrails must be utilized according to the following guidelines:
- Stairways with four or more risers, or that rise more than 30 inches in height – whichever is less – must have at least one handrail.
- Winding or spiral stairways must have a handrail to prevent use of areas where the tread width is less than 6 inches.
- Handrails and top rails of the stair rail systems must be able to withstand, without failure, at least 200 pounds of weight applied within 2 inches of the top edge in any downward or outward direction, at any point along the top edge.
- Handrails must not be more than 37 inches high nor less than 30 inches from the upper surface of the handrail to the surface of the tread.
- Handrails must provide an adequate handhold for employees to grasp to prevent falls.
- Temporary handrails must have a minimum clearance of 3 inches (8 cm) between the handrail and walls, stair rail systems and other objects.
OSHA requires that all employees are trained on the hazards of utilizing stairs and handrails for the correct construction, use, placement and care of, the correct procedures for fall protection systems and maximum weights for utilizing equipment.
Handrails come in a variety of sizes and shapes to suit the needs of every facility. To further provide safety with handrails, handrails can be purchased in a slip resistant material. A slip resistant handrail can help keep workers on their feet when covered in oil, grease, water and other liquids. Slip resistant handrails can be coated on 1, 2 or 3 sides of the handrail to ensure worker safety in a variety of applications.
By following OSHA’s guidelines for handrails, employers can ensure that workers know how to properly and safely utilize handrails in the workplace. To further promote safety to exceed OSHA’s requirements, a slip resistant handrail can be installed to ensure workers are able to proper utilize handrails in a variety of work environments.