Checking to make sure stairs, platforms, and walkways are safety compliant can mean different things for different situations. Safety and accessibility are also viewed with different lenses for different organizations. Two leaders in safety and accessibility standards are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Offering the correct options to meet the standards of these agencies is critical for businesses in both legal and ethical senses. Today, we’ll examine OSHA stairs vs ADA stairs, identify some key differences, and discuss which is better.
Safety and Equity
Aiding and assisting citizens in safer work and life conditions is a key objective of both the ADA and OSHA. When comparing their standards and practices, it’s important to understand their specific roles.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law in 1990, ensures that all Americans will be free of discrimination for employment based on a disability. It has also helped to shape architecture and building design in an effort to offer equal access to all.
OSHA, which was founded in the early 70s, offers regulations and guidelines for work safety at a federal level. This administrative agency observes work conditions and overall work safety practices. Their recommendations are often used to shape policy for future safety regulations.
Both agencies offer guidelines to ensure their primary communities are given the best possible options for work and life.
OSHA and ADA Stairs, Which is Best?
When comparing options for stair and walkway systems which meet the standards of these different agencies, it’s important to remember the motivations for each group’s regulations.
Creating stair and walkway options for disabled citizens requires both strength and flexibility of design. ADA compliance ensures that disabled citizens can still perform their jobs without restrictions. They are also in place to make sure disabled citizens are not hampered from entering a business for which they are customers.
Stairs must be uniform in the height of the riser. The riser is the portion of the staircase that’s vertical. Riser heights can range between 4” and 7”.
This is an important detail, as certain disabled individuals rely on needing the same lift strength and leg movement patterns to support their mobility. If the height from one stair to the next changes, an accident could occur.
The stairs must also be uniform in the size of the tread, in both depth and width. The stairs must measure at least 11” in depth, ensuring a person has ample tread space for their feet.
Additionally, risers should be sloped toward the front edge of the stair treads and stair edge nosing can’t protrude more than 1 ½”. Follow the ADA link for more detailed compliance recommendations.
OSHA’s standards are created and designed with a greater emphasis on safety at the workplace. Making conditions safe on a jobsite is critical to reducing on-site injuries. Insurance claims and workers' comp expenses can also be minimized by following proper safety guidelines.
Similar to ADA requirements, there are some standards for riser height and tread depth and width. Riser height can be a maximum of 9.5”, whereas tread depth can be a minimum of 9.5” . In addition, all OSHA stairs need to be at least 22” in width, giving workers ample room to pass in a staircase. You can review more OSHA standards here.
Which is better
Determining which set of stairs is better mainly depends on the application. If you’re looking to make a workplace safe and secure for most employees, OSHA requirements will fit the bill. If you’re looking to offer accessibility to all citizens, ADA standards will apply.
It is worth noting that the ADA may require more permanent installations for long-term compliance, whereas OSHA requirements can apply to more temporary stairs on a jobsite.
Ask the Pros
When looking for stair and walkway options to meet various sets of requirements, it’s important to understand who you’re designing the stairways for. At EZ-ACCESS, we specialize in offering accessible designs for a litany of clients needing OSHA stairs or ADA stairs.
Our commercial stair designs are manufactured to meet the necessary requirements for access and safety. We use high-quality aluminum for our modular access stair systems, designed to withstand high traffic and and all weather conditions.