The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the International Building Code (IBC) are two primary regulatory bodies that govern the design and construction of industrial stairs and platforms.
While there are similarities between the two codes, there are also significant differences that manufacturers and users should be aware of to ensure compliance and safety.
OSHA is a federal agency under the United States Department of Labor responsible for enforcing workplace safety and health regulations. It has specific rules related to the design and construction of industrial stairs and platforms, which are outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.23. These regulations apply to all workplaces, including manufacturing, construction, and other industries where employees may be exposed to falls from elevated surfaces.
The IBC is a model building code developed by the International Code Council (ICC) that is widely adopted by state and local jurisdictions in the United States. The IBC provides minimum requirements for designing and constructing buildings and structures, including industrial stairs and platforms.
The IBC is intended to ensure that buildings are safe and accessible and meet specific minimum standards for structural integrity, fire safety, and other considerations.
Several key differences exist between the OSHA and IBC requirements for industrial stairs and platforms. These differences primarily relate to the specific design and construction details required to meet each set of regulations.
Here are some of the most significant differences:
- Height Requirements: OSHA regulations require that any stairway or ladder to access an elevated surface more than 24 feet above the ground or a lower level must have a landing or rest platform at least every 30 feet. In contrast, the IBC requires landings or rest platforms for stairs and ladders over 12 feet tall.
- Guardrails and Handrails: Both OSHA and the IBC require that industrial stairs and platforms be equipped with guardrails and handrails to prevent falls. However, there are some differences in the specific requirements for these features. For example, OSHA requires that handrails be at least 30 inches above the walking surface, while the IBC requires them to be between 34 and 38 inches tall.
- Tread and Riser Dimensions: OSHA and the IBC have slightly different requirements for the dimensions of treads and risers on industrial stairs. OSHA requires treads to be at least 11 inches deep and risers no more than 7 inches high. The IBC allows for slightly smaller treads of at least 10 inches deep and risers up to 7.75 inches high.
- Load Capacity: OSHA requires that industrial stairs and platforms be designed and constructed to support at least five times the maximum intended load. The IBC has similar load capacity requirements but provides more specific guidance on load distribution and deflection limits.
- Fire Rating: The IBC includes specific requirements for the fire resistance of industrial stairs and platforms based on the location and use of the structure. For example, stairs and platforms used for hazardous materials storage or processing may be required to have a higher fire rating than those in other types of buildings.
- Accessibility: The IBC includes specific requirements for the accessibility of industrial stairs and platforms for individuals with disabilities. This includes provisions for the width of stairs and handrails accessible to individuals using wheelchairs or other mobility aids.
- Design and Construction: OSHA and the IBC have slightly different requirements for designing and constructing industrial stairs and platforms. For example, OSHA requires that stairs and platforms be designed and built to be free from sharp edges, burrs, or other hazards that could cause injury to employees.