Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
Ask a Question or Search InspectAPedia
InspectAPedia ® Home
STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING COMPONENT ID
BEST CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES GUIDE
BOOKSTORE - INTERIORS
BUILDING NOISE DIAGNOSIS & CURE
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
CARPETING, SELECTION & INSTALLATION
DECK & PORCH CONSTRUCTION
ELDERLY & VETERANS HOME SAFETY
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
HOME INSPECTION SAFETY HAZARDS
LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE
MOBILE HOME INSPECTIONS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
NOISE CONTROL for FLOORS
ROT RESISTANT LUMBER
SAFETY HAZARDS & INSPECTIONS
SAFETY: Elderly & Veterans Home Safety
SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS
SOUND CONTROL in buildings
Splits in Structural Wood Beams
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
WOOD FLOOR DAMAGE
Guard rail & handrail strength requirements & strength testing requirements specified in various building codes & standards. This article provides details about standards, requirements & testing procedures for handrailings & guardrailings in or on the exterior of buildings. Our page top photo shows an odd guardrail along a tiny walking space - the DIY owner-installer never considered that someone (a housepainter) might actually need the railing to be secure and functional. The result was a serious injury. See GUARDRAILS on BALCONIES, DECKS, LANDINGS for details about guardrails and see HANDRAILS & HANDRAILINGS for details about handrails along stairs. Also see STAIR RAILS, STAIR GUARDS.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Watch out: at least some of the standards & procedures specified for testing handrailing & guardrailing or stair rail strength focus on static strength testing. Dynamic testing such as the forces exerted when a person is falling and grabs onto a railing may be important for further consideration. An additional warning from ASTM explains how you can or cannot use the standards summaries listed here and in further detail at the ASTM website. Quoting: This abstract is a brief summary of the referenced standard. It is informational only and not an official part of the standard; the full text of the standard itself must be referred to for its use and application. ASTM does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents of this abstract are accurate, complete or up to date. 
Guardrailing strength specifications & testing procedures & standards
Glass & Laminated Glass Railings, Guardrails: strength & testing codes & standards
In-Situ Testing of Guardrails & Handrails
Metal Railings, Guardrails, Handrails testing standards
Plastic Railings, Guardrails, Handrails testing standards
Wood-Plastic Composite Railings, Guardrails, Handrails testing standards
A complete guide to building decks, porches, & exterior stairs can be found at Related Topics above. Key articles include:
Contributions, criticism, suggestions are welcomed. CONTACT US
In your sketch entitled "Handrails and guards" of 2011, the accompanying text (Stair landing minimum size in direction of travel (<=36"))incorrectly uses the "<" ""less than" arrow instead of the ">" "greater than arrow". - David Gillis 9/21/2011
Thanks for the careful reading - I have fixed the stair landing platform size indicator you mentioned to show that it should extend equal to or more than 36" in the direction of travel. We really appreciate careful editing. More eyes - always better.
I want to install a hand rail on an exterior staircase. Is there a code that will prevent me from installing the hand rail 6" out side of the staircase? - Joe Garcia 10/28/2011
The stair codes limit the distance that a handrailing should project into the walking space.
Railings should not project into the required width of the stairway by more than 4.5" at or below the handrail height above the stairs.
I am trying to find out if rails should be in attics - Anon 8/7/2012
An attic, that is an area not considered living space, in some jurisdictions has different rules for stairs and rails - depending on the local and higher level code authorities in your area.
But in any case, if there is an attic stairway with actual stairs, that is, not just a pull-down ladder or an open hatch and no stairs, and considering that attic access stairs are often steeper than recommended between occupied floors, for safety it would make perfect sense to be sure there was a railing along the stairway and also on the attic floor, a safety railing & balusters surrounding the stair top so someone in the attic doesn't step backwards and fall down the stair opening.
Questions & answers or comments about handrail & guardrail strength requirements, test procedures & standards
Ask a Question or Enter Search Terms in the InspectApedia search box just below.
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
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