Wednesday, 2 February 2011

New Stair Construction Building Codes and Tougher 2009 Code Enforcement Laws - What You Need to Know

The construction industry is entering a time of rapid change. New and existing codes relating to stair construction safety are now being enforced. Since safety will no longer be compromised, deck builders will have to confront the age old problem of making a deck safe when it comes to attaching posts to deck platforms, let alone attaching posts to deck stairs. Important issues such as, Child Safety, the American Disability Act (ADA) requirements and many new building materials are major elements driving new stringent code enforcement. This is why it is so important to protect yourself and your livelihood by making sure you are aware of the latest laws and compliance issues related to stairs. If a safety problem arises due to stair construction or compliance, it's not enough to say "I wasn't aware of the new laws." It's your responsibility to be aware and know of issues that could involve the safety of your family, friends, employees -- and potentially millions of dollars.

The number of deck injuries and fatalities have been increasing at a dramatic rate. Between 2000 - 2008, 30 deaths were reported as a direct result of collapse. This number does not include injuries. Statistics show that when a deck collapses that there is a 75% chance of severe injury and possible fatality. You can be proactive and check your deck for wobbly railings, rotted boards, cracks, missing and loose connections.

Stair Injuries: The most serious stair injuries being documented are the direct result of stair rail collapses. This shouldn't come as a surprise, because until just recently, no product or system has complied with the minimum code requirements for 'rail post support' on wood stairs.

Lack of Code Enforcement: There are many reasons one could assume why this important code violation has slipped through the enforcement cracks. Commonly, when stairs are built and ready for inspection, code officials will use the quick 'tug' & 'pull' test, if minimal amount of deflection is evident, then the stairs, will more than likely, pass. To officially comply with the existing stair rail post support code, all stair rail posts must withstand a 200 lbs. lateral load. It's a serious challenge to accurately 'on-site' determine structural integrity in relation to stair rail post support. However "Tort" protection for the building departments, still places the "liability issues" squarely on the shoulders of business & property owners.

The problem: Traditional stair construction using cut out stringers or commonly used stair angles, do not have the rigidity to hold 200 lbs. lateral load (applied to the post) as required by code. Until recently, there has never been an easy or satisfactory solution for building rail post supports that are strong, and meet building code requirements as well.

The Simple Solution: Rail posts can be used with adjustable stair brackets that have been engineered to achieve the required lateral load. This combination has been tested and proven to withstand 200 lbs. lateral load and 500 lbs. ultimate load as required by code- a first in the industry.

Article Source: