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Forums» Other Codes and Related Regulations» Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required?

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required?
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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required? By  Stephanie Benning

Posts: 1

11/21/2011 11:33:39 AM

Exterior steps, concrete.  For a commercial office building that has other access points (including accessible routes).  How many steps are allowed before a handrail is required?  Or is a handrail required no matter the amount of steps put in place?

 

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required? By  Mule

Posts: 22

11/22/2011 12:59:29 PM

Depends on the number of risers.

You sure you don't mean guards? Whole different ball game!

 

 

 

1009.12 Handrails.

 

 

The key word is "Stairways".
STAIRWAY. One or more flights of stairs, either exterior or
interior, with the necessary landings and platforms connecting
them, to form a continuous and uninterrupted passage from one
level to another.

Stairways shall have handrails on each side.

A “flight” of stairs is defined as a run of stairs between landings.

1009.12 Handrails.

 

 

Stairways shall have handrails on each
side and shall comply with Section 1012. Where glass is used
to provide the
handrail, the handrail shall also comply with
Section 2407.
Exceptions:
1. Handrails for aisle stairs are not required where permitted
by Section 1028.13.
2.
Stairways within dwelling units, spiral stairways and
aisle stairs serving seating only on one side are permitted
to have a
handrail on one side only.
3. Decks, patios and walkways that have a single change in
elevation where the landing depth on each side of the
change of elevation is greater than what is required for a
landing do not require
handrails.
4. In Group R-3 occupancies, a change in elevation consisting
of a single riser at an entrance or egress door does not
require
handrails.
5. Changes in room elevations of three or fewer risers
within dwelling units and sleeping units in Group R-2
and R-3 do not require
handrails.

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required? By  Dennis Keierleber

Posts: 366

11/30/2011 10:33:40 AM

The answer is one. On a commercial building, built to the IBC, a single step would require a hand rail. However, generally a sindle step isn't allowed or at least is discouraged. The code requires an elevation change of up to a foot be accomplished by a sloped surface but makes some exceptions.

1003.5 Elevation change. Where changes in elevation of less than 12 inches (305 mm) exist in the means of egress, sloped surfaces shall be used. Where the slope is greater than one unit vertical in 20 units horizontal (5-percent slope), ramps complying with Section 1010 shall be used. Where the difference in elevation is 6 inches (152 mm) or less, the ramp shall be equipped with either handrails or floor finish materials that contrast with adjacent floor finish materials.

Exceptions:

1. A single step with a maximum riser height of 7 inches (178 mm) is permitted for buildings with occupancies in Groups F, H, R-2, R-3, S and U at exterior doors not required to be accessible by Chapter 11.
2. A stair with a single riser or with two risers and a tread is permitted at locations not required to be accessible by Chapter 11, provided that the risers and treads comply with Section 1009.4, the minimum depth of the tread is 13 inches (330 mm) and at least one handrail complying with Section 1012 is provided within 30 inches (762 mm) of the centerline of the normal path of egress travel on the stair.
3. A step is permitted in aisles serving seating that has a difference in elevation less than 12 inches (305 mm) at locations not required to be accessible by Chapter 11, provided that the risers and treads comply with Section 1028.11 and the aisle is provided with a handrail complying with Section 1028.13.

Throughout a story in a Group I-2 occupancy, any change in elevation in portions of the exit access that serve nonambulatory persons shall be by means of a ramp or sloped walkway.

The truth is that a single step may be the most hazardous condition in a building. People don't see them. If a single step is allowed, it would require a hand rail. The hand rail provides a visual clue that something is up as well as something to grab onto if one gets surprised by the step. Some may be confused by the mention of means of egress but every part of the building is part of the means of egress. Interior portions are typically exit access, your condition sounds like exit discharge.

DK Engineering PLLC
dkengineer.com

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required? By  mtlogcabin

Posts: 242

12/2/2011 12:14:45 PM

If it is an existing building it would depend on the code adopted at the time of construction. Some of the older legacy codes allowed 3 risers without a handrail.

ICC does not stand for Intentionally Clear and Concise

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required? By  Joseph Lemberger

Posts: 2

4/4/2012 4:29:44 PM

 

Anything consisting of more than 4 risers... so 5+ stairs requires a handrail.

 

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required? By  Dennis Keierleber

Posts: 366

4/4/2012 4:53:11 PM

Joe, I hope you aren't involved in commercial construction, esp. commercial plan review. The answer, for commercial construction is (1). For residential built to the IRC it is (4)---four or more risers requires handrail.

DK Engineering PLLC
dkengineer.com

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required? By  mtlogcabin

Posts: 242

4/5/2012 3:55:50 PM

 Posted by Stephanie Benning

Exterior steps, concrete.  For a commercial office building that has other access points (including accessible routes).  How many steps are allowed before a handrail is required?  Or is a handrail required no matter the amount of steps put in place?

 


 

2009 IBC

It isn't clear if you are referring to a walkway or steps leading from a building that would be part of the means of egress path. It does make a difference 

1009.12 Handrails.
Stairways shall have handrails on each side and shall comply with Section 1012. Where glass is used to provide the handrail , the handrail shall also comply with Section 2407.
 
Exceptions:
 
1. Handrails for aisle stairs are not required where permitted by Section 1028.13.
 
2. Stairways within dwelling units, spiral stairways and aisle stairs serving seating only on one side are permitted to have a handrail on one side only.
 
3. Decks, patios and walkways that have a single change in elevation where the landing depth on each side of the change of elevation is greater than what is required for a landing do not require handrails .
 

ICC does not stand for Intentionally Clear and Concise

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required? By  James Tinner

Posts: 3

5/16/2012 3:52:08 PM

Hi Dennis,

Please look at the definition of "Stairway" and then the definition of "Flight."

Note that a stairway consists of one or more "flights". Also note the the definition of "flight" uses the plural rather than the singular of "treads" and "winders". A strict reading would mean that a single "tread" or "winder" would not meet the definition of a "flight" and therefore the definition of "stairway" would not apply.

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required? By  David Schroeder

Posts: 1

7/13/2012 1:41:02 PM

You need at least one handrail for a change in elevation per IFC 1003.5.   The deal is this: 

1 single riser is dangerous because a person doesn't expect it (except at street curbs).   A handrail gives a person warning that a single riser is there.   Making matters worse in this case is that it's concrete, which doesn't provide high contrast with more concrete in the background, and you're outside, where this thing may sometimes be covered with snow. 

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail / ramp is required? By  Marc Tintner

Posts: 1

9/10/2012 10:07:12 PM

I have a project where I have 16' wide x 20' deep golf simulators that will be built on sleepers.  The village wants a ramp and possibly hand rails per IBC code noting egress concerns.  Is there any way to avoid this? This is a unique use and I've used bowling alleys with rise as an equivalent comparison but can't find anything beyond that.  The rise will be 3-4 inches.  I understand the dangers related to steps but this is clearly a different scenario with a 16' wide step up into the simulator and the floor main color will be different than the simulator floor.  While I understand the need for ADA a booth will have 1 person in it at a time hitting a golf ball into a screen and with all respect for handicapp persons I don't see where one would be golfing however they are more than welcome in the establishment where the facility will me all ADA codes.  Have any thoughts or insight or am I going to be stuck putting in visually unappealing ramps?  Thanks.

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Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail / ramp is required? By  Dennis Keierleber

Posts: 366

9/11/2012 9:02:59 AM

Provide the ramp. Other considerations aside, one of the primary functions of code enforcement is to put lawyers out of work. A single step is the most hazardous element you can put in a building. There is plenty of research to back up that statement and if you look you may find numerous law suits over just that issue. Making the elevation change less than a normal step may make the situation worse, not better. It may make it less likely to be seen.

The code requirements governing elevation changes aren't in the accessibility section. The ramp isn't about disadvantaged individuals.

Why would you want to invite people (who proabably have the resources to sue you) to pay for the privilage of using your facility if there is any question that there is an unsafe element to your design? Put in the ramp. While you're at it, put in a hand rail. In addition to providing something to grab onto it will provide a visual clue that something is up.

DK Engineering PLLC
dkengineer.com

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   Edited By Dennis Keierleber at 9/12/2012 4:00:24 PM.

Maximum number of stairs allowed before handrail is required? By  Traci Yoshitomi

Posts: 1

11/7/2013 5:00:04 PM

I have kind of the same question, i am tying to rent a home this is the stairs, i have asked them to please put in a handrail and they refused.

00r0r_1G5AXtk6CRn_50x50c.jpg    00r0r_1G5AXtk6CRn_50x50c.jpg   

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   Edited By Traci Yoshitomi at 11/7/2013 5:02:39 PM.

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