Stairways must meet certain requirements

Stairways pose a unique hazard for people who traverse them because of the uneven surface. All stairways must meet certain requirements in order to meet the building codes. When any of the requirements aren’t present, it is possible for someone using the stairs to fall and suffer an injury.

Narrow stairways aren’t permissible according to building codes. Instead, stairways must be a minimum of 36 inches wide. Handrails must be present on the stairway. These mustn’t stand out more than 4.5 inches from the wall. The distance from the wall to outer edge of the handrail does affect the width of the stairway. If there is only one handrail, the stairway clearance from the edge of the handrail to the opposite wall must be at least 31.5 inches. From handrail to handrail must be at least 27 inches if there is a handrail in each side of the stairs.

Even the depth of the stair treads and the height of the risers must meet certain standards. The stair tread depth must be at least 10 inches. The tread depth must be fairly consistent throughout the flight of stairs. The widest tread depth mustn’t be more than 3/8 inch wider than the smallest thread depth.

The riser height for stairs mustn’t be greater than 7.75 inches. The variation of the riser heights must be no more than 3/8 inches from highest riser to shortest riser.

Other codes dictate landing structures and other stair design elements. If you were injured on a stairway, looking into the code compliance factors might unearth a violation that you can use in your claim for compensation.

Source: Stairway Manufacturers’ Association, “Visual Interpretation Of The International Residential Code,” accessed June 16, 2016