The Ladder Effect at Guardrailings & Stair Guards Climbable guardrails & child safety
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The Ladder Effect of Horizontal Cable Railings - climbing children & Safety Issues.
This article describes a child safety hazard that may be present where guardrails or stair guards can be climbed, particularly by children where climbable guardrails are in our opinion an attractive nuisance. We include research on the child hazard at climbable guardrails that discuss the actual risks involved.
This article series describes and includes illustrations of cable or wire rope railings or guardrails used along decks, balconies, walkways and stairways.
We include definitions of guardrail, a handrailing or stairway handrail, and other terms that assist in understanding the building code, construction, and safety requirements that wire cable type railings must meet. Where the presence of children argues against any sort of horizontally-run guard railing member, cable railing manufacturers can provide vertical cable railing designs.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
The Ladder Effect of Horizontal Cable Railings - Safety Issues
Our concern with any horizontally-run guardrail structure is that it is climbable, and also that often we find the cables are loose
enough that a child can easily slip between the cables - an installation or maintenance error, not a conceptual error.
In our cable guardrail at in the photo above, the tension on the guardrail cables was pretty high but a child standing on the cable can often increase the opening size to more than 4-inches.
[Click to enlarge any image]
For researchers who argue that the "ladder effect" is not a useful construct and that children are not attracted to climbable structures, take another look at this photograph.
In our next guardrail photo shown below, where in the distance is a nice view of Seattle's Lake Washington, the horizontal guardrailing members are constructed of metal pipe and do not stretch or deflect, but they are more than 4" apart and as they are horizontal, a child could easily climb the guardrailing at this Seattle.
The ladder effect is a child hazard that pertains to any type of guardrail or stair guard that uses horizontal, climbable enclosing members.
and opening of horizontal guard cables can be minimized by placing intermittent posts at suitable intervals between the supporting
Atlantis suggests no horizontal space between posts should be 4 feet on center - a spacing that I usually see has been
violated by the installer.
Stair guards with loose cables or wide openings or climbable enclosing members may also be unsafe
Above we can see by casual observation (sagging and wide-open wire cables) that this cable type stair guard does not protect children using the stairs.
This installation is in a coffee shop in Colonia Sur in Queretaro, Mexico.
Above our second photograph, shows a closely-spaced, highly-tensioned guard rail and stair guard at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt estate in Hyde Park, New York.
At least some of the cable railing suppliers offer vertical cable railings for installations where a horizontal railing is not
approved or not suitable.
In our OPINION, a vertical cable guardrail adequately addresses the climbability question (the ladder effect)
and if properly tensioned, might pass the opening spacing requirements.
The Atlantis company's opinion is that because of their small diameter and lack of rigidity, horizontal cables are thin and not easy to climb.  Indeed in our photo where kids were tugging on the horizontal cables installed in a cable railing in New York City, the cables appeared rigid enough that there was not much visible deflection.
Our field experience is that children enjoy climbing horizontal cables and other horizontally run guardrailings. Perhaps due
to playground practice, it's apparent that kids have little difficulty ascending the cables. OPINION: We do not recommend any type of horizontal guardrail intermediate members that can be climbed in locations where children may be present.
Research on Child Safety vs Cable Guardrails or Stair Railings
Reader Question: are there really safety or security issues for children with cable railings on decks and stairs?
15 August 2015 Barbara said:
Are there any data or feedback on security issues for children with cable railing (deck and staircase)? I am concerned that they might want to climb on the horizontal cables, but not sure if it is a serious issue.
Horizontal cables or any horizontal member in a guardrail are a child hazard as children can and are tempted to climb such a guardrail - a hazard often described as the ladder effect.
The ladder effect hazard at guardrails and stair guards remains a common opinion among safety experts (cited below) and some code officials and home inspectors, regardless of whether or not the railing was approved by local code officials.
In our opinion, the aesthetic desire for cable railings and the marketing objectives of vendors may be a factor in the removal of the ladder effect hazard from some building code restrictions on guardrail design and there may be both inadequate fall and injury reporting data as well as conflicting interests between safety and and industry vendors.
For example, Hedge (2007) completed a under the auspices of the National Association
of Home Builders' Research Center (NAHBRC) and funded by and prepared for the National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals
Association (NOMMA), an industrial association that includes vendors of cable railing systems that did not find data which supported the need for additional
Readers concerned only with code violation and "legality" of cable guardrailings should check with their local building code enforcement official.
Readers concerned with child safety should also review the safety articles cited below. Istre (2003) makes clear that guardrail openings spaced or capable of being spaced more than 4 inches apart are a significant fall and injury hazard for children.
Typically there are other hazards such as the ability of the cables to be stretched or moves such that the 4-inch safety opening size can be increased so that a child could also pass through the guard.
For this reason some builders and code enforcement officials specify a 3 1/4" spacing between horizontal cables rather than the 4-inch rule of thumb used for solid balusters. Other sources we found (Ellis 2011) suggest that cable manufacturers suggest a 3-inch spacing. opening.
Note: the deck building citations below are generally quiet or have little to say about child hazards, climbability, and building code compliance for cable railing systems but they do offer good construction practices and discuss cable tension, spacing, post security and strength and similar cable railing design considerations.
Ashby, Karen, and Maria Corbo. "Child fall injuries: an overview." Hazard Edition 44 (2000).
Culvenor, John F. "Design of Childproof Barriers to Prevent Falls from a Height in Public Places." The Proceeding of the XVI Annual International Occupational Ergonomics and Safety Conference ʹ2002 www.iea.cc/ECEE/pdfs/DesignofChildPrfBarriers_Culvenor.pdf -
Excerpt "Figure 10 shows a cable barrier along the edge of a balcony. These types of barriers are hazardous
because they are climbable. In addition, because the cables are flexible, the spacing can be pushed out
to a greater size allowing a child can squeeze through. The cables also present an entanglement and
choking hazard and because of their small diameter are also much sharper than larger diameter bars. "
Ellis, Mark, "Installing Cable Railings,
A simple approach to a great upgrade", Professional Deck Builder, November 2011, retrieved 25 Aug 2015, original source: http://www.deckmagazine.com/Images/Installing%20Cable%20Railings_tcm122-1385984.pdf - Excerpt:
The International Residential Code (IRC) says that a 4-inch sphere cannot pass between the cables; most manufacturers recommend placing the cables every 3 inches - rather than every 4 inches - to ensure that a railing meets that requirement, because no matter how tight the cable is, there will always be some play in the center of the run, and over time the cables will stretch, allowing even more sag.
[Note: the IRC cited is referring to solid, non-deflectable vertical balusters installed in stair, deck, ramp or balcony guardrailings - Ed.]
Feeney, Inc., "International Building Codes and the "Ladder Effect / Climbability", Feeny Inc., 2603 Union St.
Oakland, CA 94607-2423 USA, Tel: 800-888-2418, Website: Retrieved 2016/08/28, original source: www.feeneyinc.com/site/resources_dealers/binder_docs/Intl_Building_Codes.pdf
Website excerpt from the company's "about us" page:
Jim Feeney opened the doors of Feeney Wire Rope & Rigging in an old soap factory building located on the edge of the San Francisco Bay in Berkeley, California. The post-War, San Francisco Bay Area was booming with military, maritime and construction business, and Feeney quickly gained a solid reputation as a company that provided quality rigging products and superior service. ... Feeney soon grew to become one of the leading suppliers of custom rigging and hardware in the region...
Feeney expanded its operations and opened a Feeney Northwest facility, in Eugene, Oregon, to develop the newest addition to the Feeney architectural line: aluminum railing frame systems. Feeney was now able to offer its customers not only CableRail cables but also a complete railing system with cable, glass panel, or picket infill options.
The railings were first introduced under the CableRail brand but are now marketed under their own brand, DesignRail®. This product addition solidified Feeney's position as a significant and influential voice in the rapidly expanding railing market..
Research studies of injuries to children are medically oriented and seldom explore any guard design issues. These studies extrapolate from smaller, longitudinal data sets, usually within a hospital or particular location, to give a national estimate of injuries. Such estimates typically are much larger than the percentage of injuries recorded in the latest injury data set.
Studies of the climbability of different fencing designs have used inconsistent terminology to describe the designs tested, have used adult encouragement of children to climb the fences, and also have provided abundant safety padding to protect against a fall. Such contrived situations do not reflect how behavior might occur in a naturalistic setting.
Recent fall injury data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on accidents with guards is analyzed. The results indicate that climbing and falls from these assemblies among young children aged 18 months to 4 years account for an estimated 0.032 percent of injuries resulting in emergency room visits in that population.
[NOTE: the following comment by peer reviewer Kimberly Stone: "Additionally, the 0.032% injury rate for falls from guards stated in the abstract has no meaning initially because it is not reported in a “per population per year” format nor is it placed into context by comparing to other statistics, such as homicides or motor vehicle collision data."
Results from either the research studies or the injury data are neither specific enough nor consistent enough to constitute a solid basis for building code requirements.
Children’s safety concerning guards cannot be guaranteed solely by guard design, but must also involve a program of education on when it is appropriate and when it is not appropriate to engage in climbing a structure.
[NOTE: the following comments about cable guardrails and child safety were provided by peer reviewer Kimberly Stone who commented on the article cited just above:
"It was stressed that the literature reports fall incidences in localized areas and that these rates are considerably higher than that derived from the NEISS data. Reasons for this are not fully discussed. One possibility is that the research is carried out in areas with high incidences of this, which is certainly true considering that most research is carried out in urban areas with high buildings.
I would argue that the NEISS may underestimate the true burden of falls from guards for several reasons. One reason which was stated, is that the coding of the NEISS is not conducive to identifying these falls. Also, since little research has been done on the target area of falling from a guard, the fall rates reported in the literature (mostly stairs and windows), does not reflect the actual incidence of falls from guards.
Also, many injuries resulting from falls from guards may be treated in urgent care centers, primary care providers’ offices or not brought to medical attention for a variety of reasons. Even though these falls may be less severe since the victims are not seen in an emergency room or hospital, they may still contribute substantially to the economic burden of injury in medical costs and lost income 10.
The conclusions regarding a lack of data regarding guard design features is certainly appropriate. Emphasis is appropriately placed on the fact that there is no research regarding “guards” as defined in this report. However, attention should be paid to the fact that the age of the child seems to be an important factor, since most falls occur in ages 1 to 4, and the fact that after the age of four it seems that few fencing designs can prevent climbing. Examining the fencing designs deemed “unclimbable” by younger children should certainly provide a starting point for guard design.
One concern I have is that emphasis is placed on the child climbing over the guard and falling. There was no mention of the possibility of a child attempting to climb a guard and falling while failing to climb it. In the studies conducted regarding climbability of guards, great attention was paid to preventing children from falling during the study and they did not report if falls occurred when children failed to climb the guard. It is certainly possible that falling backward from the guard could cause as much injury as falling over the guard, and this should be considered when designing guards.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement on prevention of falls is appropriately cited when discussing the importance of injury prevention11. There is also an impressive amount of literature in the health education literature regarding health promotion and education, as well as the interaction between legislation and individual and community education.
I encourage you to read articles by Andrea Gielen, ScD on this topic. Another report of interest is the report “Built Environment, Healthy Communities, Healthy Homes, Healthy People” which reports on a symposium sponsored by the NIEHS. While it is true that counseling can increase some injury prevention behaviors, the most effective injury prevention strategies are those that involve legislation and passive protection 12" - Kimberly E. Stone, MD, MPH,
Fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics Member, Section on Injury and Poison Prevention, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Istre, Gregory R., Mary A. McCoy, Martha Stowe, Kevin Davies, D. Zane, R. J. Anderson, and R. Wiebe. "Childhood injuries due to falls from apartment balconies and windows." Injury Prevention 9, no. 4 (2003): 349-352. Excerpt:
Ninety eight children were injured in falls from buildings during the three year period; 39 (40%) were admitted to hospital. Seventy five of the falls (77%) involved apartments, and most occurred around noon or evening meal times. Among apartment falls, 39 (52%) fell from windows, 34 (45%) from balconies, and two (3%) from unknown sites.
For more than two thirds of balcony related falls, the child fell from between the balcony rails, all of which were spaced more than 4 inches (10 cm) apart. On-site measurement showed the rails were an average of 7.5 inches (19 cm) apart; all of these apartments were built before 1984.
For more than two thirds of window related falls, the window was situated within 2 feet (61 cm) of the floor.
Katwijk, Kim, & Linda Katwijk, "Installing Cable Railings -
Two specialty tools and a few techniques expand your design options", Professional Deck Builder, March-April 2007, Excerpt:
Cable railing is much easier to install than many deck builders think.
Horizontal cables are run through holes drilled in railing posts and tightened with turnbuckles or studs (connectors that grab the cable and tighten by way of a nut) until they "sing." Open and airy, cable railing virtually disappears, offering the client an unobstructed view and a clean, contemporary look.
Stainless steel cable railing is low maintenance, long lasting, and fairly easy to install. With a little know-how, you can turn a nice profit. Cable and Posts Cable comes in 1/8-inch to 1/2-inch diameters, in 1/16-inch increments.
Lanigan, John Bartlett. "The Most Complete Incomplete Fall Presentation." In ASSE Professional Development Conference and Exposition. American Society of Safety Engineers, 2003.
Lanigan, John Bartlett, and Ruby Clemens. "The When, Where And How to Look For Fall Exposure." In ASSE Professional Development Conference and Exhibition. American Society of Safety Engineers, 2009.
Lido Designs, Inc., "Building Codes - general information and guidelines", [in BuyRailings, a division of Lido Designs, Inc.], (2011), retrieved 25 Aug 2015, original source: https://www.buyrailings.com/t-GeneralBuildingCodes.aspx, Excerpt:
The published 2000 IRC stated that guardrails shall not be constructed with horizontal members or other ornamental pattern that results in a ladder effect. The ladder effect has never been a part of the IBC. The ladder effect was removed from the IRC during the 2001 code cycle.
The change was noted in the 2001 IRC supplement and the current 2003 IRC contains no reference to the ladder effect.
However, some local code authorities are using older codes based on BOCA – the creator of the ladder effect wording – and the 2000 IRC. Many local code inspectors are not aware of the 2001 change and may reject guardrailings with infills they interpret as creating a ladder effect.
It is taking time for the 2001 IRC supplement and the new 2006 model codes to trickle down to the local levels. In the meantime, be prepared to address this issue should it come up in your area.
National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA),
805 South Glynn St., Ste. 127 #311,
Fayetteville, GA 30214 Tel:
email@example.com "The National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association was formed in 1958 to serve the ornamental and miscellaneous metals industry. ... NOMMA is strongly committed to improving the industry through education and advocacy work. We are also dedicated to educating owners and the design/build community on the many advantages or ornamental and miscellaneous metalwork. ... Our Mission Statement: The National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association serves its members and advances the industry through education and the promotion of a positive business environment. Our Purpose: To promote the common business interest of those engaged in the ornamental and miscellaneous metals industry."
Peden, M. M. World report on child injury prevention. World Health Organization, 2008.
Riley, Joanne E., Michael S. Roys, and Sandra M. Cayless. "Initial assessment of children's ability to climb stair guarding." The journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health 118, no. 6 (1998): 331-337.
Brown, Ann. "Dear Colleague." Nursing Management 30, no. 1 (1999): 6-7. US CPSC, Publication No. 330, (un-dated), dbs.idaho.gov/programs/school/publications/Bleachers.pdf
Salas, Tom, "Foolproof Cable Railings -
If the posts and rails are properly designed and installed, the cables should never come loose", Professional Deck Builder, June 2015, retrieved 25 Aug 2015, original source: http://www.deckmagazine.com/fencing-and-railing/foolproof-cable-railings_o.aspx - Excerpt:
The most common cable-rail problem I’ve seen occurs when someone tries to convert a conventional balustrade with 4x4 wood posts, 2x6 top rails, and 2x2 pickets to a cable rail by removing the pickets, drilling the posts, and installing a cable kit.
Because the compression created by the cables bears on the top rail, the post-to-rail connections, and the outermost posts, the outer posts will bow inward over time from the pull of the cables, even if the posts are well-attached to the framing and meet code. This will lead to an endless cycle of retightening cables and more post bowing.
When properly installed, however, wood posts are just as effective as metal posts, and I think no rail is more beautiful than a clear redwood or red cedar post system with cables.
I won’t install cable on a 4x4 post, however; the posts must be 6x6 or 4x6, with the long dimension parallel to the cables.
Shields, Brenda J., Elizabeth Burkett, and Gary A. Smith. "Epidemiology of balcony fall–related injuries, United States, 1990-2006." The American journal of emergency medicine 29, no. 2 (2011): 174-180.
Towner, Elizabeth, and Heather Ward. "Prevention of injuries to children and young people: the way ahead for the UK." Injury prevention 4, no. suppl 1 (1998): S17-S25.
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Eric Galow, Galow Homes, Lagrangeville, NY. Mr. Galow can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone: 914-474-6613. Mr. Galow specializes in residential construction including both new homes and repairs, renovations, and additions.
 §3209. Standard Guardrails, California Building Code, provides description of how guard rails should be constructed. Web search 09/02/2011,original source: www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3209.html
 "The Elimination of Unsafe Guardrails, a Progress Report," Elliott O. Stephenson, Building Standards, March-April 1993
 "Are Functional Handrails Within Our Grasp" Jake Pauls, Building Standards, January-February 1991
 Access Ramp building codes:
 Access Ramp Standards:
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), Public Law 101-336. 7/26/90 is very often cited by other sources for good design of stairs and ramps etc. even where disabled individuals are not the design target.
ANSI A117.4 Accessible and Usable buildings and Facilities (earlier version was incorporated into the ADA)
ASTM F 1637, Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces, (Similar to the above standard
 Falls and Related Injuries: Slips, Trips, Missteps, and Their Consequences, Lawyers & Judges Publishing, (June 2002), ISBN-10: 0913875430 ISBN-13: 978-0913875438 "Falls in the home and public places are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States, but are overlooked in most literature. This book is unique in that it is entirely devoted to falls. Of use to primary care physicians, nurses, insurance adjusters, architects, writers of building codes, attorneys, or anyone who cares for the elderly, this book will tell you how, why, and when people will likely fall, what most likely will be injured, and how such injuries come about. "
 The National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST (nee National Bureau of Standards NBS) is a US government agency - see www.nist.gov
"A Parametric Study of Wall Moisture Contents Using a Revised Variable Indoor Relative Humidity Version of the "Moist" Transient Heat and Moisture Transfer Model [copy on file as/interiors/MOIST_Model_NIST_b95074.pdf ] - ", George Tsongas, Doug Burch, Carolyn Roos, Malcom Cunningham; this paper describes software and the prediction of wall moisture contents. - PDF Document from NIS
 Slips, Trips, Missteps and Their Consequences, Second Edition, Gary M. Bakken, H. Harvey Cohen,A. S. Hyde, Jon R. Abele, ISBN-13: 978-1-933264-01-1 or
ISBN 10: 1-933264-01-2,
available from the publisher, Lawyers ^ Judges Publishing Company,Inc., www.lawyersandjudges.com email@example.com and also from the InspectAPedia Bookstore (Amazon.com)
 The Stairway Manufacturers' Association, (877) 500-5759, provides a pictorial guide to the stair and railing portion of the International Residential Code. [copy on file as http://www.stairways.org/pdf/2006%20Stair%20IRC%20SCREEN.pdf ] -
 Mold-Resistant Building Practices, advice from an expert on how to prevent mold after a building flood and how to prevent mold growth in buildings by selection of building materials and by anti-mold construction details.
 "The Dimensions of Stairs", J. M. Fitch et al., Scientific American, October 1974.
 Stair & Walkway Standards for Slipperiness or Coefficient of Friction (COF) or Static Coefficient of Friction (SCOF)
ASTM D-21, and ASTM D2047
UL-410 (similar to ASTM D-21)
NSFI 101-B (National Floor Safety Institute)
NSFI Walkway Auditing Guideline (WAG) Ref. 101-A& 101-B (may appear as ANSI B101.0) sets rules for measuring walkway slip resist
OSHA - (Dept of Labor CFR 1910.22 does not specify COF and pertains to workplaces) but recognizes the need for a "qualified person" to evaluate walkway slipperiness
ADA (relies on the ANSI and ASTM standards)
 A. Sacher, International Symposium on Slip Resistance: The Interface of Man, Footwear, and Walking Surfaces, Journal of Testing and Evaluation (JTE), ISSN: 1945-7553, January 1997 [more focused on slipperiness of polished surfaces
 Algae is widely recognized as a slippery surface - a Google web search for "how slippery is algae on steps" produced more than 15,000 results on 8/29/12)
 Slipperiness of algae on walking surfaces, warning, Royal Horticultural Society, retrieved 8/29/2012, original source: http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?pid=418
 Slipperiness of algae: "Watch your step, wet rocks and algae are slippery" Oregon State University warning 1977 retrieved 8/29/2012, original source: http://www.worldcat.org/title/watch-your-step-wet-rocks-and-algae-are-slippery/oclc/663683915
 Coefficient of friction of algae on surfaces [like stair treads]: Delphine Gourdon, Qi Lin, Emin Oroudjev, Helen Hansma, Yuval Golan, Shoshana Arad, and Jacob Israelachvili, "Adhesion and Stable Low Friction Provided by a Subnanometer-Thick Monolayer of a Natural Polysaccharide", Langmuir, 2008 pp 1534-1540, American Chemical Society,
retrieved 8/29/2012, Abstract: Using a surface forces apparatus, we have investigated the adhesive and lubrication forces of mica surfaces separated by a molecularly thin, subnanometer film of a high-molecular-weight (2.3 MDa) anionic polysaccharide from the algae Porphyridium sp. adsorbed from aqueous solution. The adhesion and friction forces of the confined biopolymer were monitored as a function of time, shearing distance, and driving velocity under a large range of compressive loads (pressures). Although the thickness of the dilute polysaccharide was <1 nm, the friction was low (coefficient of friction = 0.015), and no wear was ever observed even at a pressure of 110 atm over 3 decades of velocity, so long as the shearing distances were less than twice the contact diameter. Atomic force microscopy in solution shows that the biopolymer is able to adsorb to the mica surface but remains mobile and easily dragged upon shearing. The adhesion (adsorption) of this polysaccharide even to negatively charged surfaces, its stable low friction, its robustness (high-load carrying capacity and good wear protection), and the weak (logarithmic) dependence of the friction force on the sliding velocity make this class of polyelectrolytes excellent candidates for use in water-based lubricant fluids and as potential additives to synovial fluid in joints and other biolubricating fluids. The physical reasons for the remarkable tribological properties of the ultrathin polysaccharide monolayer are discussed and appear to be quite different from those of other polyelectrolytes and proteins that act as thick “polymer brush” layers.
 Jason R. Stokes, Lubica Macakova, Agnieszka Chojnicka-Paszun, Cornelis G. de Kruif, and Harmen H. J. de Jongh, "Lubrication, Adsorption, and Rheology of Aqueous Polysaccharide Solutions, Langmuir 2011 27 (7), 3474-3484
 "Coefficients of Friction for Ice", The Physics Factbook™, Glenn Elert, Ed., retrieved 8/29/12, original source: http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2004/GennaAbleman.shtml
 "Coefficients of Friction for Ice", The University of the State of New York Reference Tables for Physical Setting/Physics. New York: The State Education Department, 2002. Op. Cit.
 Serway Physics for Scientists and Engineers 4th edition (p. 126.)
 "How Slippery Is It", retrieved 8/29/12, original source http://www.icebike.org/Articles/howslippery.htm
 John E. Hunter, "Friction Values", The Source, Society of Accident Reconstructionists, Winter 1998. Study of frictional values of car tires involved in collisions on snow or ice covered roadways.
 Frictional Coefficients of some Common Materials and Materials Combinations, The Engineering Toolbox, retrieved 8/29/2012, original source: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/friction-coefficients-d_778.html [copy on file as Friction and Coefficients of Friction.pdf ]
 Stairways and Ladders, A Guide to OSHA Rules, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 3124-12R 2003 - Web Search 05/28/2010 original source: http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3124.pdf. OSHA regulations govern standards in the construction industry and in the workforce Quoting from OSHA whose focus is on workplace safety and so excludes discussion of falls and stair-falls in private homes:
OSHA estimates that there are 24,882 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities per year due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction. Nearly half of these injuries are serious enough to require time off the job--11,570 lost workday injuries and 13,312 non-lost workday injuries occur annually due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction. These data demonstrate that work on and around ladders and stairways is hazardous. More importantly, they show that compliance with OSHA's requirements for the safe use of ladders and stairways could have prevented many of these injuries. -osha.gov/doc/outreachtraining/htmlfiles/stairlad.html
 International Building Code, Stairway Provisions, Section 1009: Stairways and Handrails, retrieved 8/29/12, original source: http://www.amezz.com/ibc-stairs-code.htm [copy on file as IBC Stairs Code.pdf]
 Model Building Code, Chapter 10, Means of Egress, retrieved 8/29/12, original source: http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/newjersey/NJ_Building/PDFs/NJ_Bldg_Chapter10.pdf, [copy on file as NJ_Bldg_Chapter10.pdf] adopted, for example by New Jersey. International Code Council, 500 New Jersey Avenue, NW, 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20001, Tel: 800-786-4452
Atlantis Rail, division of Suncor Stainless, Inc.,
Atlantis Rail Systems
70 Armstrong Road
Plymouth, MA 02360
Toll free: 800-541-6829
 The Wagner Companies
0600 West Brown Deer Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53224
 Keuka Studios:
1011 Rush Henrietta Town Line Rd.
Rush, NY 14543
Phone: Toll Free (855) 454-5678
Main: (585) 487-6148
Fax: (585) 487-6150
 Building Code Rules for Stair Rail Cables - Wire Rope Guardrails & Stair Railings
UBC 1003.3.3 1997
 The International Building Code (IBC)
International Residential Code (IRC)
 ISO 9001:2008
 1003.3.3.11.3 Handrail grasp ability. Handrails with a circular cross section shall have an outside diameter of at least 1.25 inches (32 mm) and not greater than 2 inches (51 mm) or shall provide equivalent grasp ability. If the handrail is not circular, it shall have a perimeter dimension of at least 4 inches (102 mm) and not greater than 6.25 inches (159 mm) with a maximum cross-section dimension of 2.25 inches (57 mm). Edges shall have a minimum radius of 0.125 inch (3.2 mm).
 BOCA National Property Maintenance Code 1993:
PM-305.5 Stairs and railings: all interior stairs and railings shall be maintained in sound condition and good repair.
Commentary: Handrails, treads and risers must be structurally sound, firmly attached to the structure, and properly maintained to perform their intended function safely. During an inspection the code official should inspect all stringers, risers, treads, and handrails.
PM-305.6 Handrails and guards: Every handrail and guard shall be firmly fastened and capable of supporting normally imposed loads and shall be maintained in good condition.
Commentary: This section provides for the safety and maintenance of handrails and guards. See Section PM-702.9 for additional requirements.
PM-702.9 Stairways, handrails and guards: Every exterior and interior flight of stairs having more than four risers, and every open portion of a stair, landing or balcony which is more than 30 inches (762mm) high, nor more than 42 inches (1067mm) high, measured vertically above the nosing of the tread or above the finished floor of the landing or walking surfaces. Guards shall be not less than 30 inches (762mm) high above the floor of the landing or balcony.
Commentary: Handrails are required on all stairs more than four risers in height. Handrails cannot be less than 30 inches nor more than 42 inches above the nosing of the treads (see Figure PM-702.9).
Guards are required on the open side of stairs and on landings and balconies which are more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below. The guard must be at least 30 inches above the floor of the landing or balcony. Guards are to contain intermediate rails, balusters or other construction to reduce the chance of an adult or child from falling through the guard. If the guard is missing some intermediate rails or balustrades, it is recommended that the guard be repaired to its original condition if it will provide protection equivalent to the protection it provided when originally constructed.
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones