Temporary stairs are common during the construction of buildings. They are also some of the most neglected areas on a job site. Stairs that aren’t designed to regulatory specifications or are improperly installed are a danger to everyone that works on or visits the site.
Temporary Stair Hazards
The biggest danger from temporary stairs is the potential for the stairs to collapse or someone falling off them if they are not designed or installed properly. Other hazards include:
A stairway that is not properly secured at the top and bottom could cause the stairs to shift and slide.
If the bottom of the stairway is installed over a floor opening that can’t support the weight of people and materials, collapse is almost certain.
Cracked stairs or stairways missing stringers, steps, and grooves, could diminish the strength of the stairway and cause it to collapse under too much weight or traffic.
A stairway installed in an unsafe or improper location, such as in an area with heavy equipment traffic, could make being struck by moving equipment all too likely.
Unprotected sides and edges of stairways are a dangerous fall hazard
Stairs that are too narrow can make it difficult for people and materials to move safely.
Treads and risers of un-uniform width, length and height is a tripping hazard.
The buildup of ice and snow on the stairs or at the top or bottom of the stairway is a slip and fall hazard.
Preventing Temporary Stair Hazards
Plan the layout and location of the stairs so workers and visitors to the site have easy access to the stairs and the location provides easy access to between floors.
In most cases, stairways must be installed at least 30 degrees- and no more than 50 degrees- from the horizontal.
Ensure the bottom and top of each stairway is properly secured to the floor.
Put up warning signs and physical barriers on stairways that need repair or attention to prevent access until repairs can be made.
Install stair rails and guardrails as required by local, state, and federal codes and regulations, on all open sides and landings.
Require inspection of all temporary stairs prior to use.
Remove any slip, trip and fall hazards and dangerous projections such as protruding nails. Keep the access to and the stairs themselves, free from tools, equipment and debris to prevent slip and trip hazards.
Address slippery conditions caused by rain, snow or ice immediately.
Instruct workers on stairway hazards to be aware of and how to report hazards they see and concerns they have.
Tell workers not to tamper with or make any changes to temporary stairways.
Train all workers on the fall hazards in the work area, including temporary stairways, and instruct them on how to minimize these hazards.