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Industrial staircases, guardrails: a practical guide

MUST-KNOW STANDARDS FOR SELECTING AND PURCHASING THE BEST EQUIPMENT

Industrial staircases, guardrails
Industrial staircases, guardrails

Spiral, straight, curved, square or even with variable geometry, the ranges of industrial staircases are constantly developing to meet the needs of professionals and their projects. Fixing staircases and guardrails in a factory, a workshop, a storage hangar or even a building open to the public is not just a simple formality. This equipment must be particularly robust. The quality, reliability and compliance with safety standards cannot be considered as optional. Read on for a practical guide in selecting industrial staircases and guardrails.

The safety standards for staircases and guardrails

The safety standards for staircases and guardrails
The safety standards for staircases and guardrails

Standard NF E85-015 provides the characteristics related to the design and main dimensions of staircases, stepladders and guardrails:

Staircases are equipment enabling you to comply with the regulatory obligation to use a secure access. The minimum requirements to be met for their design and implementation are specified in the labour code. The standard, in detail, is as follows:

Concerning staircases:

The steps must comply with the following characteristics:

- They must not be slippery

- If there is no stair riser, successive steps must cover 5 centimetres

- Main pathways must not have one or two isolated steps

- The dimensions of the steps of the staircases must comply with the latest applicable standards

- Each flight must not have more than 25 steps

- Landings must have a breadth equal to that of the staircases and, if successive flights are in the same direction, their length must be more than 1 metre

- Curved staircases must have a continuous turn, without any landing other than those serving floors

- The dimensions of the steps on the line of travel, at 0.60 metres from the core or the central void must comply with the latest applicable standards

- The external going of the steps is less than 0.42 metres.

 

Concerning guardrails:

They are the most commonly used collective safeguard. Their purpose is to prevent falls from heights and to mark out a dangerous area. Guardrails are fixed securely.

They are designed to resist stress caused by work, irrespective of whether this stress is static or otherwise. They are adapted to the movements of the workers. Their height is standardised: between 1 metre and 1.10 metres from the floor. Guardrails may be fixed and permanent, or temporary and thus detachable.

In companies, the labour code makes it mandatory for guardrails to be fixed for staircases. Compliance with the NF E85-015 standard of the labour code guarantees optimum safety. For staircase guardrails, the main provisions to be taken into account are as follows:

- A staircase must have at least one handrail. If the breadth of the staircase is more than or equal to 1.20 metres, it must have two handrails.

- A staircase guardrail must comprise one handrail, an intermediate rail and a foot rail if the height to be climbed is more than 50 centimetres. 

- The handrail must have a diameter of 2.5 to 5 centimetres or have an equivalent cross-section, in order to guarantee that it can be grasped properly.

- The railings must have at least one intermediate rail or an equivalent component. The empty space between the handrail and the intermediate rail, as well as between the intermediate rail and the foot rail, must be less than or equal to 50 centimetres.

The most in-demand ranges of industrial staircases

The most in-demand ranges of industrial staircases
The most in-demand ranges of industrial staircases

The French market has several models of industrial staircases. With various shapes, sizes, materials and step types, you will often be spoiled for choice. Nevertheless, despite the wide range of possibilities, industrialists still lean towards the more classic and sturdier types of staircases: vertical staircases, straight staircases, square staircases, etc. The classic styles that have yet to be dethroned in an exacting market are:

Variable-geometry straight staircases are particularly preferred by industrialists, since they can easily be adapted to the site using pivots. The height and inclination can be adapted automatically, depending on the context of the place. The installation does not take up much time. The flexibility and adaptability of this equipment, paired with the ease of installation, make this type of equipment one of the favourites.

Square staircase: The square staircase is also called an enclosed staircase or a one-piece staircase. This type of staircase is recommended for outdoor installation Installation is rapid and requires little manipulation once it is on site, since they are often delivered pre-assembled.

Spiral staircases, also known as a corkscrew staircase. This staircase model is suitable for situations where the space available for an industrial staircase is less than usual. Effectively, this range of staircases requires significantly less space. Such staircases are especially recommended for, but not limited to, emergency exits. They are also suitable for indoor use.CHECK OUT OUR OFFERS

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Staircases for buildings open to the public

There are strict regulations concerning staircase designs for buildings that are open to the public. The defining feature in this case is that these staircases become an element of common traffic. Therefore, people with reduced mobility may need to use these staircases. The same applies to people who are visually impaired. This is why these staircases must comply with standards that take all of the following into account:

- If there is a fall height of at least 1 metre, the NFP 01.012 standard recommends installing a guardrail, the dimensional characteristics of which are defined in said standard.

- All of the steps of the staircase must be of the same height (less than or equal to 16 centimetres).

- The first and last step must have a stair riser with a minimum height of 10 centimetres, and the said riser must visually contrast with the step.

- An enclosed staircase must have a minimum breadth of 1.20 metres.

- A staircase, regardless of the design, must have a handrail on each side.

- A blind or visually impaired person can be warned by different means or equipment, especially by changing the texture of the flooring. The Afnor NFP 98-351 standard defines a type of caution warning.

- If a customer takes the decision to fix the top of a staircase with such a warning, this installation must comply with the standard.

Regulations relating to emergency staircases

Your metal emergency staircase must be constructed in compliance with the safety standards in force. These shall depend on the staircase’s intended use and the type of building. For buildings open to the public, the technical specifications for a metal emergency staircase are as follows:

- The breadth of the staircases must be equal to or greater than 0.80 metres.

- The step height must be between 16 and 17 centimetres.

- The step width (the going) must be 28 centimetres.

- There must not be any stair riser.

Moreover, there are a few additional safety elements that are often associated with the above, such as visually contrasting strips on the nosing, as well as a continuous handrail.

Given the strict and complicated regulations, and given the wide range of staircase on offer, it is strongly recommended that you seek the advice of professional manufacturers of industrial staircases. Choose those with well-established reputations. Give greater preference to those who also provide advice and have an excellent understanding of the standards in force.

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