OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

Oct 27 2017

Mr. Kevin Rauchut
NVR, Inc.
2 Christy Dr.
Suite 301
Chadds Ford, PA 19317

Dear. Mr. Rauchut,

This is in response to your letter of July 18, 2017, requesting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to address a specific question of whether any safety factor is required in the design of handrails and top rails. The question is in relation to 29 CFR § 1926.1052 (c) (5):

Handrails and the top rails of stairrail systems shall be capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 200 pounds (890 n) applied within 2 inches (5 cm) of the top edge, in any downward or outward direction, at any point along the top edge.

The intent of the standard is to ensure that the structural integrity of the top rail is adequate to prevent workers from falling off the stairway and the handrail to provide a handhold for workers. The standard requires that handrails and top rails withstand a force of 200 pounds without exceeding its ultimate strength. The standard does not require any specific safety factor applied to the required 200 pound force. Additionally, the standard does not apply to the design of handrails and top rails used for other uses beyond construction.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020.

Sincerely,

 

Dean McKenzie, Director
Directorate of Construction