How Can You Tell If a Handrail Meets OSHA Standards?

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A handrail for stairs conforming to Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards should have a minimum height of 30 inches and a maximum height of 34 inches, states the U.S. Department of Labor. Railings along floors or ramps must be 42 inches high and must include a top rail and intermediate rail.

OSHA regulations require that handrails include a top rail and intermediate rail, and the top rail must be designed to allow for a firm grip, states the U.S. Department of Labor. In order to comply with OSHA standards, handrails manufactured from metal pipes should have a minimum cross-sectional diameter of 1.5 inches, while hardwood handrails should have a cross-sectional diameter of at least 2 inches. OSHA regulations also require handrail installations to have a multidirectional load-bearing capacity of at least 200 pounds.

A handrail conforming to OSHA standards should have a lengthwise section attached directly to a partition or wall, explains the U.S. Department of Labor. The attaching brackets should be placed on the lower side of the handrail in order to leave the top and both sides unobstructed. In addition, OSHA regulations prohibit handrail installations that create projection hazards, and the standards require a minimum 3-inch clearance around handrails.

OSHA standards require handrails on flights of stairs with more than four risers, states the U.S. Department of Labor. To conform, stairways that are less than 44 inches wide should have handrails installed on open sides. OSHA regulations also require handrails on at least one side of stairways that are enclosed on both sides and are less than 44 inches wide.