stair downoad

Basic Overview of Working and Walking Surfaces

The following information is a general overview of major points and standards according to OSHA 29 CFR Part 1910, Walking and Working Surfaces for General Industry.

Key Terms:

  • Floor Hole: opening less than 12 inches but more than 1 inch
  • Floor Opening: an opening greater than 12 inches where a person may fall
  • Toe board: barrier to prevent the falling of materials
  • Standard Railing: barrier to prevent persons from falling
  • Wall Hole: an opening less than 30 inches but more than 1 inch high of unrestricted width, in any wall or partition
  • Wall Opening: an opening greater than 30 inches high and 18 inches wide


General Requirements:

  • All places of employment, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms shall be kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition
  • Aisles and passageways shall be kept clear and in good repairs, with no obstruction across or in aisles that could create a hazard
  • Covers and/or guardrails provided to protect personnel from the hazards of open pits, tanks, vats, ditches, etc.
  • Load rating limits shall be posted on all cover plates


Floor Openings, Wall Openings, and Holes:

  • Railings to be provided on all exposed sides of a stairway except entrance
  • Guardrails to be in place or attendant posted at all temporary floor openings
  • Floor holes to have standard railing with toe board or hole cover of standard strength and construction
  • Every hatchway or chute opening to be guarded
  • Platforms 4 feet or more above ground shall be guarded by standard railing on all open sides except entrance to ramp, stairway, or fixed ladder


Railing, Toe board, and Cover Specifications:

  • Top rails shall have a vertical height of 42 inches nominal from upper surface of top rail to floor
  • Protection between top rail and floor, platform, runway, ramp, or stair treads, equivalent at least to that afforded by a standard intermediate rail
  • Height of handrails shall be not more than 34 inches nor less than 30 inches from upper surface of handrail to surface of tread
  • Toe board should be nominal 4 inches in vertical height
  • Roadway manhole covers to handle at least 20,000 pounds
  • Skylight screens must be able to carry at least 200 pounds
  • 200 pounds for wall opening covers



  • Every flight of stairs with 4 or more risers shall have standard railings or handrails
  • Stairways less than 44 inches wide having both sides enclosed, must have at least one fixed handrail
  • Less than 44 inches wide with open side, one affixed handrail on open side
  • Less than 44 inches wide with two open sides, two handrails to be provided on each side
  • Fixed industrial stairs are to carry 5 times anticipated load
  • Minimum moving concentrated load of 1000 pounds
  • Minimum width of 22 inches
  • Angle to horizontal between 30 and 50 degrees
  • Vertical clearance from tread to overhead a minimum of 7 feet


Scaffold and ladder:

  • Mostly use scaffold of appropriate size platform and load capacity
  • Must extend at least 3 feet above point of support
  • Never to be placed near electrical hazards
  • Secure positions/footing, or lashed or held in position
  • Never splice ladders to elongate
  • Never use ladder as platforms