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20.2: Stairways

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    G. The employer must ensure:

    • Handrails, stair rail systems, and guardrail systems are provided in accordance with § 1910.28;
    • Vertical clearance above any stair tread to any overhead obstruction is at least 6 feet, 8 inches (203 cm), as measured from the leading edge of the tread. Spiral stairs must meet the vertical clearance requirements in paragraph (d)(3) of this section.
    • Stairs have uniform riser heights and tread depths between landings;
    • Stairway landings and platforms are at least the width of the stair and at least 30 inches (76 cm) in depth, as measured in the direction of travel;
    • When a door or a gate opens directly on a stairway, a platform is provided, and the swing of the door or gate does not reduce the platform's effective usable depth to:
    • Less than 20 inches (51 cm) for platforms installed before January 17, 2017; and
    • Less than 22 inches (56 cm) for platforms installed on or after January 17, 2017 (see Figure D-7 of this section);
    • Each stair can support at least five times the normal anticipated live load, but never less than a concentrated load of 1,000 pounds (454 kg) applied at any point;
    • Standard stairs are used to provide access from one walking-working surface to another when operations necessitate regular and routine travel between levels, including access to operating platforms for equipment. Winding stairways may be used on tanks and similar round structures when the diameter of the tank or structure is at least 5 feet (1.5 m).


    The employer must ensure:

    • Dockboards are capable of supporting the maximum intended load in accordance with § 1910.22(b);
    • Dockboards put into initial service on or after January 17, 2017 are designed, constructed, and maintained to prevent transfer vehicles from running off the dockboard edge;
    • Portable dockboards are secured by anchoring them in place or using equipment or devices that prevent the dockboard from moving out of a safe position.
    • Measures, such as wheel chocks or sand shoes, are used to prevent the transport vehicle (e.g. a truck, semitrailer, trailer, or rail car) on which a dockboard is placed, from moving while employees are on the dockboard; and
    • Portable dockboards are equipped with handholds or other means to permit safe handling of dockboards.

    Rope Descent Systems

    Before any rope descent system is used, the building owner must inform the employer, in writing that the building owner has identified, tested, certified, and maintained each anchorage so it is capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg), in any direction, for each employee attached. The information must be based on an annual inspection by a qualified person and certification of each anchorage by a qualified person, as necessary, and at least every 10 years.

    No rope descent system is used for heights greater than 300 feet (91 m) above grade unless the employer demonstrates that it is not feasible to access such heights by any other means or that those means pose a greater hazard than using a rope descent system;

    The rope descent system is used in accordance with instructions, warnings, and design limitations set by the manufacturer or under the direction of a qualified person;

    Each employee who uses the rope descent system is trained in accordance with § 1910.30;

    The rope descent system is inspected at the start of each workshift that it is to be used. The employer must ensure damaged or defective equipment is removed from service immediately and replaced.

    No employee uses a rope descent system when hazardous weather conditions, such as storms or gusty or excessive wind, are present;

    Equipment, such as tools, squeegees, or buckets, is secured by a tool lanyard or similar method to prevent it from falling; and

    The ropes of each rope descent system are protected from exposure to open flames, hot work, corrosive chemicals, and other destructive conditions.


    Before any employee is exposed to a fall hazard, the employer must provide training for each employee who uses personal fall protection systems or who is required to be trained as specified elsewhere in this subpart. Employers must ensure employees are trained in the requirements of this paragraph on or before May 17, 2017.

    The employer must ensure that each employee is trained by a qualified person.

    The employer must train each employee in at least the following topics:

    1. The nature of the fall hazards in the work area and how to recognize them;
    2. The procedures to be followed to minimize those hazards;
    3. The correct procedures for installing, inspecting, operating, maintaining, and disassembling the personal fall protection systems that the employee uses; and
    4. The correct use of personal fall protection systems and equipment specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, including, but not limited to, proper hook-up, anchoring, and tie-off techniques, and methods of equipment inspection and storage, as specified by the manufacturer.
    5. Equipment hazards. The employer must train each employee on or before May 17, 2017 in the proper care, inspection, storage, and use of equipment covered by this subpart before an employee uses the equipment.

    This page titled 20.2: Stairways is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Kimberly Mosley (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI)) .

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