Outdoor Stairs for a Construction Trailer

How to get safe permanent access to a construction trailer

Wooden construction trailer stairs

Temporary wooden construction trailer stairs

Job site construction trailers are used all over. Some are temporarily placed in location and then relocated, and some are permanently stationed. The construction trailers can house offices, tools, machinery, electrical controls and more. Oftentimes, job site trailers will have temporary wooden stairs affixed, like the above photo. But what do you do when the construction trailer is actually in a permanent or semi-permanent location?

assembled metal stairs for construction trailer

Shop assembled job site stairs

We often get calls to fabricate replacement construction trailer stairs to replace temporary wooden steps. The stairs below were used with job site trailer that housed electrical control modules and needed a safe OSHA compliant means of access from two sides.

removable handrail on metal stairs

Close-up of removable handrail option

As the construction trailer had some large control modules inside, we supplied stair landings with handrails that can be unbolted, to allow ample access should any module need to be replaced. The stair railings were welded to the stair stringer to maintain a stiff, wobble-free grabbing surface.   In an effort to help keep costs down on the project, the stairs were supplied with two support columns instead of four. This was achieved by bolting the platform edge of the landing to the existing structure, allowing for less steel to be used and a smaller concrete pad to be poured.

stair landing with grating for snow

Bar grating decking allows dirt and snow to fall through – allowing for a safe, clear walking surface

Construction trailers are generally located outside in work zones, oftentimes lacking paved access to the doors. With that in mind, the stair treads and stair landing surfaces are most commonly constructed from bar grating. Bar grating is inherently self-cleaning; mud, dirt, rain and snow fall through the treads keeping them cleaner and safer to step on. The landing also has toe kick around the non-entry and exit locations. The 4” high toe guard stops tools and other items from being kicked off the landing. It also serves to stop a slipping foot from falling off the landing, potentially preventing a serious injury and employee downtime.

fully assembled construction trailer stair with galvanized finish for corrosion  protection

Construction trailer stair with a galvanized finish for superior corrosion resistance

As for finish, hot dipped galvanized is one of the best, cost effective finishes to use when the stairs will be exposed to the elements. No chipping, peeling or blistering of the coating will happen. In fact, when the hot dipped galvanized surface is scraped to bare steel, it will ‘self-heal’. The zinc rich galvanized surfaces to the sides of the bare metal will sacrifice themselves to protect the base steel until all of the surrounding zinc is consumed. Hot dipped galvanizing also coats 100% of the structure because it is immersed in the zinc solution, as opposed to being painted on, which can miss hard to reach areas.

Mezzanine Deck Types: Corrugated Roof Deck with Resindek

I thought it might be a good idea to begin a little series in which we discuss some of the different mezzanine deck types available.  To start things off, let’s talk about our most commonly used mezzanine deck type:  the corrugated roof deck topped with resindek.

Underside of corrugated roof deck

Corrugated roof deck, painted reflective white, as viewed from below.

As the name implies, roof decks with resindek is a two-layered mezzanine deck surface.  The structural component of the mezzanine deck is provided by a 1-1/2” corrugated steel roof deck.  The gauge of the roof deck used varies depending on the loads the mezzanine deck is designed to support.  The underside of the roof deck is painted white to help reflect light under the mezzanine deck.  The corrugation of the roof deck doesn’t offer a very useable deck surface, so it needs to be skinned with a second material — in this case, resindek.

Unfinished Resindeck mezzanine deck

Unfinished Resindek mezzanine deck surface

Resindek is a wood composite material specifically designed to provide a durable and affordable mezzanine deck surface.  There are different grades of resindek depending on the loads the mezzanine deck is designed to support.  Most commonly we will use an unfinished ¾” Resindek LD material which is designed to accommodate a combined pallet and pallet jack load of up to 2000 lbs.  If we’re designing the mezzanine to support heavier loads, varieties are available for all the way up to an 8000 lb max load.   It provides a smooth surface to roll your pallets across, both on and between panels, and doesn’t peel layers like plywood can.

Corrugated roof deck with resindek is easily our most popular mezzanine deck surface, largely due to its significant price advantage over other deck types.  There are, however, some situations where it would not be the best option.  As a wood based material, resindek can swell when it gets wet.  During installation you leave a gap between panels about the width of a nickel to accommodate some swelling, but if the deck will be in a wet environment it is not the recommended tool for the job.  In our next segment, we’ll talk about another deck type that would work better for wet environments.

Winter Weather Tips

It’s getting colder now and it’s time for some winter weather tips to keep things running smoothly whether you’re at the shop or out on the road.Snow storm traffic jam

  1. Keep a 5 gallon bucket with salt by each of your entrances along with a shovel. Snow and ice buildup can not only make it tough for people to get into your shop, it can also hinder egress in case of an emergency. Be sure to open the emergency doors and shovel/salt around them. Drifts of snow and ice can build up on the outside wall even if there is only a little snow on the ground.
  2. Have entry mats and/or a dry mop by the entrances to your shop. Wet boots trekking in snow can be a dangerous slip hazard.
  3. If you have exterior silcocks (spigots) be sure to remove hoses from them. Even if you have a frost free silcock, it will freeze with the hose attached.
  4. If there is ice on your windshield there is ice on the road. It doesn’t have to be packed up deep to be a problem. Often a thin sheet of ice can cause a big problem, especially when people aren’t expecting it.
  5. Watch the spray from tires – if spray is coming off other vehicles’ tires it’s likely the roads are wet as opposed to being ice covered.
  6. Pack extra supplies. Be sure to bring extra supplies in your truck in case you end up sitting in a back-up, stuck in the snow, wrecked or spun out. Blankets, hats, gloves, wool socks, hand warmers, energy bars, bottled water, a bag of road salt or sand, a small shovel, tow rope, booster cables and emergency flares are a good place to start.
  7. Make an electronics bag for your car. If your job requires using cameras, two way radios, cell phones, laptops or another portable electronic device like a laser level or laser measurer, pack those items all in one bag that you can take to and from your car, along with some extra batteries. Remember, in cold weather batteries are not as productive and electronics can stop working, so it is best to take them indoors with you instead of letting them chill for a prolonged time in an unheated trunk. Packing these items in one bag makes it quick and painless to take them with you.
  8. Stay dry. Whether you are directing traffic, offloading a truck, or maintaining or installing equipment, keeping dry is the first step to preventing frostbite and hypothermia.
  9. Layer properly. Cotton tee shirts offer no insulating value to you when you get it wet, yet many people still wear them as they go off to work outdoors. Natural fibers, wool or silk are amongst the best insulators when damp. There are also many good synthetic materials out that do just as well.  Remember, even if you start off warm and dry, when you work, you sweat, and when you sweat, you get damp, and when you get damp in cotton, you get cold.
  10. When working outdoors, take regular breaks from the cold. Hop in your truck for a warm beverage that you keep in a thermos. This will warm you from the inside out. Same thing goes for eating. Hot soup will warm you up quicker than a brown bagged sandwich.
  11. To help prevent your fuel lines from freezing up, keep your tank at least half full. If the vehicle is going to park for lengthy periods, fill the gas tank beforehand.