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STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
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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
Stair baluster safety & code specifications: this article describes procedures for performing safety inspections of the balusters used on indoor or outdoor stairs, railings, landings. A stair inspection checklist provided in this document outlines information to collect during a field investigation of the condition of an interior or exterior stairway for safety defects.
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Having investigated cases of severe injury related to falls and railing collapses we developed this field data collection checklist. We also include references to key documents on building codes and stair and railing safety. Also see Deck & Porch Railings.
For details about balusters (vertical spindles in railing construction) see details at Railings for a discussion of safety barriers along stairs, and Guards (railings on landings and open hallways, porches, screened porches, balconies that are more than 30" above floors or grade).
As our photo shows, Chloe Mei, a toddler (in this case very carefully held and supervised) could easily fall through widely separated open landing balusters or open balusters on a stairway.
We often see guards and railings enclosed using horizontal members or mesh or link fencing materials. Because a toddler can easily climb these materials, they are not safe for guard or railing enclosures and should not be used.
We also often see decks and porches more than 30" above ground level with no rail whatsoever, perhaps relying on the placement of plants or furniture to discourage people from stepping too close to the edge.
Where building code enforcement was absent or lax we found a deck eight feet above ground with no railings at all. A local inspector opined that because the deck was not attached to the house (it abutted the house) it was exempt from building code enforcement.
Our opinion was that code exemption did not do much to reduce the falling hazard and that guards and railings should be provided regardless.
Balusters for Guards & Railings
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about stair & guardrail balusters
Questions & answers or comments about stair baluster safety, inspection, building codes & specifications.
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