Handrails for Steps: Enhancing Safety and Style

handrails for steps

Every innovative product for accessibility is a win for equality and inclusivity. Every product that helps people with disabilities move independently contributes to their self-sufficiency and improves their quality of life.

One of these products is the handrails for steps. Handrails are not only for people with mobility limitations but also for the visually impaired. Not only do the handrails provide safety and stability, they also provide freedom for people with disabilities to be autonomous.

In this blog post, we will discuss how external handrails for steps are improving the lives of people with reduced mobility or people with disabilities.

Understanding accessibility challenges

To truly understand how important handrails are for people with disabilities, understanding the accessibility challenges they face day by day is necessary.

Mobility limitations

Individuals with mobility issues whether because of a physical disability, recuperating from an injury or an elderly or senior person all have difficulties navigating stairs, steps or even a wheelchair ramp. The lack of hand rails for steps makes it harder for them to go up or down safely, preventing them from accessing important areas and services. 

Handrails for Steps: Enhancing Safety and Style

Balance and coordination

Disabled individuals particularly those with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s Disease, Cerebral palsy, or other conditions that cause balance and coordination problems have substantial difficulties climbing stairs.

Hand rail are essential in providing stability and support that help them keep their balance and lessen the risk of any untoward incidents. Installing handrails not only helps people with balance issues, they are also essential to adhere to handrail legal requirements.

Visual and sensory impairments

For those with visual or sensory impairments, using the stairs alone can be dangerous. Fortunately, indoor and stair railing provide people with a point of reference to help them orient and safely use stairs even if they’re visually and sensory impaired.

Furthermore, different coloured and textured interior and exterior stair handrails also serve as visual reminders to those with varying degrees of blindness to locate the handrails and use the stairs more confidently.

Best practices for handrail accessibility

Since handrails provide incomparable assistance to people with disabilities, installing handrails for outdoor steps or indoors must be done so according to best practices to ensure they would serve their purpose.

1. Height and placement

To enable users to keep a steady grasp while using an indoor or outdoor handrail while going up or down the stairs, the handrails must be installed at a consistent height along the entire length of the stairs.

To accommodate different users such as children, able-bodied individuals, and people with mobility issues, the handrail height recommendations in adherence to the International Building Code must be from 34 to 38 inches above the stairs.

4 Steps Handrails for Outdoor Steps-2.jpg

2. Non-slip materials

In rainy or snowy conditions, choosing non-slip materials and textures for railings, especially for an outdoor stair handrail guarantees a firm grip. For individuals with sensory impairments, textured surfaces or rubberised coatings can improve traction and provide tactile feedback. 

3. Visual markings

Handrails must be conspicuous to help people with low vision find their way to use these rails. This is possible by using visual markings, and indicators or by painting the handrails in contrasting or blind colours.

With this, people with depth perception limitations can easily see the handrails because of the contrast in colours of the rails and its surroundings. For dimly lit places, use reflective materials or high-visibility colours. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a handrail required for 6 steps?

Yes. A handrail is required for 6 steps. Rules vary depending on enforcing authority but generally, a handrail is necessary for 6 steps especially if the vertical rise is 3 feet or more.

Do I need a handrail for 2 steps?

No. Following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), handrails are required only for stairs with four steps or more. 

Do I need a handrail for 3 steps?

No. In accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), handrails are required only for stairs with four steps or more. 

Do I need a handrail for 4 steps?

Yes. In accordance with the  Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), handrails must be installed when the stairs consist of four steps or more. 

How many steps is a handrail required for stairs?

A stairs with 4 steps required a handrail. 

How to install handrails for outdoor steps?

Professionally installing handrails for outdoor steps or ramps is crucial, particularly for manual or electric wheelchair users. To ensure safety and security, it’s recommended to enlist the expertise of mobility professionals, such as Gilani Engineering, for handrail installation.

Are handrails on steps required for Australian walking tracks?

The laws in Australia governing handrails of walking tracks depend on several factors such as the location, jurisdiction, and walking track type. Generally, not every walking track needs a railing. However, if it’s accessible by the public, it needs to adhere to Australian Standard AS1170.1 and the Building Code of Australia.

Are handrails required for NSW park construction? 

Yes. Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) in Australia, all public spaces especially those used by the public for leisure activities must be accessible to everyone including those people with disabilities. 

Are handrails required for exterior steps?

Handrails are required for exterior steps if the steps are four or more. However, this is on a case-to-case basis depending on local rules and regulations. 

How high should a handrail be for steps?

A handrail needs to be 34-38 inches above the steps to accommodate all users including children and people with disabilities.

When is a handrail required for stairs steps?

A handrail is required for stairs with 4 steps or more.