While our Mezzanine Stair and Ladder Gates (MLG safety gates) are designed to meet OSHA fall protection requirements, they also work great as pedestrian traffic control gates. Below you can see that the design lends itself very easily to control pedestrian traffic flow to restricted locations. They are also a great way to get your message out.
304 stainless steel MLG gate used for pedestrian traffic control with mounted signage
Your Message… Right Where You Need It
Our customer above had custom signs printed up that they riveted onto our stainless steel gate. After mounting the sign to our MLG gate, their message is front and center – right where they need it. Do you have cost concerns about using these at your location? It is easy to incorporate an advertisement for a local business with its logo/slogan to offset the cost of the gate and sign printing. While A-Mezz does not offer graphic printing, we have heard from customers that they have had it done for $30-100 per sign – depending on what material and options they choose, such as di-cutting they had selected from their printer.
Rear view of MLG 304 stainless steel safety gate mounted to stairs with pedestrian traffic control sign.
MLG gates are also a great place to have important safety information such as at the top of a ladder that accesses a confined space.
Stairwell Interruption Gate
Our MLG gates are also often used to comply with NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code as a stairwell interruption gate. The 2018 edition of NFPA 101 stipulates 126.96.36.199: “Stairs and ramps that continue more than one-half story below the level of discharge shall be provided with an approved means to prevent or dissuade occupants from traveling past the level of discharge during emergency building evacuation”.
When descending a stairway, A-Mezz MLG gates are used where the stairs continue past the emergency exit. The gates stop panicked occupants from continuing down the stairs, past the exit point. When ascending the stairs from below, anyone can simply walk through the gate to safety. Many customers have aluminum signs printed stating there is no exit past the gate and an arrow pointing to the exit location.
While they were designed for fall protection applications, our MLG gates are much more versatile. Featuring quick shipping times, in-stock status, and low cost, MLG gates are ideal for many uses. Contact A-Mezz today for more details and a quote.
By Reese @ Floormatstore.com
Fiberglass Tread Covers
We have some very exciting news from the Floor-Mat Store to share with you! We’ve just added a new member to our stair tread selection: fiberglass. Some jobs just require a little bit more, don’t they? Maybe more color options, more grit, or more versatility. These are designed to help with all of those extra needs.
Fiberglass tread cover color chart
Floor-Mat Store fiberglass step covers can come in both a standard 90 lip, or bullnose, with lengths up to 10’ so that you no longer have to deal with butting two treads up to each other. Our fiberglass treads have thirty-four color options, which gives you over sixty different possible combinations to choose from. Looking for a school system and want to breathe a little school spirit into your design? We can do that. Just decided on a new company color? Perhaps even a bright or neon one that you can’t seem to find anywhere? We can do that.
Super Coarse Grade
Super Fine Coarse
Our fiberglass stair treads are manufactured in six different grit coarsenesses, from Super Coarse, which is great in areas prone to slippery conditions, to Super Fine, used for locations needing both slip protection and a gentle touch for bare feet.
Installation is quick and easy for use on every base material. We have fastener kits for applications onto wood, concrete, diamond plating, and open grating, along with our moisture cured urethane adhesive for the simplest tight hold install. Whatever your need, our fiberglass treads are designed to take away the stress and supply you with the solutions for your obstacles.
We were recently called out to a site with a dock access stair that had seen better days. It got a lot of use, but by the looks of it, had been neglected from a maintenance standpoint. Enamel paint is a great finish if it is maintained, but when left outside around the salt and high traffic to be found on a dock stair it won’t take long to rust without maintenance.
This stair had the painted stair tread nosings all rusted away to a brittle, porous edge. The stringers and support columns all had given way to rust beyond what was fixable with a repair job.
Dock stairs in need of replacement
The most economical solution for our customer was to have a replacement set of stairs fabricated and hot dipped galvanized. The cost of repair – cutting the current stairs apart, brush/blasting the existing rust out, cutting steel to weld into deteriorated sections, grinding and painting the product – all in the field would have taken much more time than having replacement stairs fabricated in the shop and brought out to the site. Furthermore we didn’t want to put a “Band-Aid” on the existing stairs by repairing them, knowing the customer wanted to have something in place to forget about. Fabricating a new stair with a hot dipped galvanized would greatly increase the lifespan of the stairs. There is no touch-up painting required and galvanized products can last 5x as long as painted steel.
A-Mezz did a site visit to verify conditions and get the existing stair’s measurements. During the visit it was determined that the floor wasn’t completely level. We made the support columns slotted to allow for minor adjustment in the field. This will be more user friendly than making the stair flat and requiring shimming. We didn’t want to fabricate each leg a different length should they one day move it to a new location or have the floor surface refinished in the future.
A-Mezz fabricated and pre-assembled as much of the stair and landing as possible in the shop to minimize the time on site with door access out of service as this was a busy dock entrance door. The existing stairs were demo’d and the new stairs were installed in all one morning.
A-Mezz galvanized steel replacement dock stairs
The customer’s new dock stairs will have a long service life due to the hot dipped galvanized finish. The stairs will be able to tackle snow and ice easily with the bar grating treads, and look attractive for years to come – all at a price that was less than repair.
Installed external IBC staircase
Previously, I had written a blog post briefly discussing how to put one of our mezzanines together. It had a lot of good photos taken during the installation, so I was able to go through section by section what was done. There was one particular area I didn’t get to to over in much detail though; the stairs. While with the previous system that I wrote about, the customer designed and fabricated their own staircase, I recently received a fantastic series of photos from the installation of another system; this time with partially installed stairs included.
Setting up the stairs
The IBC stairs for or mezzanine systems ship in knock down form and need to be installed in the field. When installing them, you’ll want to lay the stringers on the floor about 3’ apart with the closed face of the stringers inward. The diamond tread stair treads consist of a closed back riser and stair tread weldment. Starting with the top tread and riser, you’ll need to bolt the the tread to the stringer fastening it on the inside of the tread. Only hand tighten the bolts at this time, then work your way down positioning the riser of the next tread behind the flat weldment of the nose on the tread above. After all the treads have been attached to the stringers (hand snug) you’ll need to install the bottom riser using self tapping screws. You’ll then need to hoist the stairs up to the mezzanine deck. Making sure that the dimension from the top of the deck to the top tread is equal to the dimension between the other treads, you’ll need to field drill the the attachment holes using a 9/16” drill and attach it to the mezzanine system. You’ll also need to install the top tread plate on top of the mezzanine deck closing off the riser from your first tread. From the underside, you’ll need to tighten up all the bolts and attach the risers to the back of the above tread’s nose via a couple self tapping screws. Afterwards you’ll need to anchor the stairs to the ground.
Now all that’s left is to finish off the handrail. The hoops that form the 21” and 36” handrails and handrail extensions come already welded to the stringers. On each of the uprights, you’ll need to attach an elbow assembly via self tapping screws. This will provide you with the saddles to support the outer 42” handrail. You’ll need to take a piece of guardrail pipe for each side, and lay them flush against the saddles, fixing them in place with self tapping screws once again. As the top line of rail will be longer than the stair run, you’ll want to drop a plumb line from the bottom edge of the rail to the edge of the mezzanine deck and again to the front edge of the bottom stair tread, cutting the pipe square. Finally, you’ll need to install a plastic plug cap in the openings of the top rail to finish it off.
Many locations have old stairs that need to fixed or replaced due to age, damage etc. Generally speaking regardless of the code in place when the original stair was made, you will need to update your stair to the current building code (IBC) when you replace stairs.
Stair meeting OSHA standards
3404.1 General. Except as provided by Section 3401.4 or this section, alterations to any building or structure shall comply with the requirements of the code for new construction. Alterations shall be such that the existing building or structure is no less complying with the provisions of this code than the existing building or structure was prior to the alteration.
This becomes an issue when stairs are installed in tight locations under codes that vary greatly from today’s current International Building Code (IBC) variants.
Imagine having a 12’ high stair in place with a riser height of 9” and a tread depth of 9”. This stair would have (16) treads, 9”deep for a total run of 11’3”.
If the replacement stairs would be required to meet IBC code (adopted by all of the states) they would now need to have (20) treads, 11” deep for a total run of 18’4”. The IBC stairs would extend 7’1” further than the originally installed stairs.
The increased run and decreased slope can wreak havoc on your facilities if the original stairs stopped right before a hallway (new stairs would extend well into the hallway) or if the stairs are enclosed (new slope would cause head clearance issues with existing structure).
If the above situation applies to you don’t sweat it. The above referenced IBC code section does have an exception that may help
- An existing stairway shall not be required to comply with the requirements of Section 1009 where the existing space and construction does not allow a reduction in pitch or slope.
- Handrails otherwise required to comply with Section 1009.12 shall not be required to comply with the requirements of Section 1012.6 regarding full extension of the handrails where such extensions would be hazardous due to plan configuration.
Why the exemption for stairs (and possibly ramps, though not specifically called out)? The thinking behind the exemption is that without it, stairs that need to be replaced and are not safe will be neglected and not maintained due to the inability to bring them up to current codes. It is better to have a well maintained stair meeting an earlier code than have a poorly maintained stair that doesn’t meet current codes.
By Jared @ Floormatstore.com
Winter is coming… and it’s time to shift from tackling outdoor projects to indoor ones. At the floormat-store.com division, that tends to mean a spike in stair tread inquiries. Installing indoor rubber and vinyl stair treads is a great cold weather project. What most customers forget to consider when attempting a stair tread project when it gets cold though, is the adhesive.
Rubber and vinyl flooring adhesives have minimum temperatures usually around 65°F. If the temperature of the room you’re installing in isn’t at or above the minimum, you’ll be waiting a long time for the adhesive to set. Every year, we get a few customers calling with the complaint that the adhesive they received was a bad batch. So far, every time, it wasn’t the adhesive’s fault. The installer failed to read the instructions thoroughly enough to catch that temperature warning. Usually, it’s an unfinished basement or the few steps that lead from the garage to the house, but with the kids out of school over Thanksgiving and winter break, cold stair wells in schools are a common application, too. Most adhesives also need around 24 hours to set in ideal situations, so leave that heat on for a day (or two) after you finish.
Musson #300 water based contact adhesive with 0 VOCs. Great for indoor stair tread installations
While keeping the temperature in mind, you’ll also want to consider that a lot of adhesive options require a well ventilated area. In summer that’s easy – just open some windows and doors and wear a mask. As it gets cold outside though, leaving those open isn’t an option. So make sure to get a low VOC adhesive that will work for the application. The last thing you want is to pass out from the fumes while installing stair treads – ouch! A water-based contact adhesive, like Musson’s #300, works for both rubber and vinyl treads, risers and tiles, going over concrete, wood, terrazzo, metal and marble – and typically have 0 VOCs. That safely covers just about any application.
Best of luck and stay safe with your projects.
-Jared @ www.floormatstore.com
By Jared @ Floormatstore.com
The other day, a friend called me up to discuss safety codes in regards to stairs. He was moving his son out of his apartment and carrying the sofa down the stairs. The rubber stair treads were in terrible shape, cracked, worn through and just in general need of replacement, which of course presents a safety issue on its own. The larger issue he had called about though, was stairway visibility. The stair treads had grit stripping in the nosing – which is a sandpaper-like tape, used for extra traction and visual awareness – on all but a few of the steps, one of which was the last step before a landing. Walking down the stairs backwards, carrying one end of the sofa, the bottom step – missing the strip – blended in with the landing below it, giving the false impression that he had reached the landing. As you could guess, stepping back, thinking that he had reached the landing, caused a bit of a stumble. I’m sure we have all experienced that moment of terror, where your heart jumps up an inch, your stomach is sucked up into your chest and your breath stops for a split second that feels like minutes. Luckily for him, he caught himself before fully falling down and walked away without injury. His story made for a great discussion on the topic of contrasting color for visual awareness.
One of the highest causes for accidents on stairways is poor visibility of both risers and treads. Poor visibility can cause people to misread the edge of a step, causing them to fall. One of the best and most cost effective ways to increase visibility is by providing a visual contrast on the leading edge of treads. According to the U.S. Access Board Research, safety yellow is the most ‘visually detectible’ color.
Whether or not the contrasting stripes are a requirement is a debated topic across the country. Because stairs are not part of an accessible route, ‘ANSI A117.1 Section 504 Stairways’ does not technically apply to the IBC. The misconception comes from the commentary for subsection 1102.1 Design. Visual contrast is not referenced into the IBC, so it only applies if the authority having jurisdiction has specifically incorporated the requirement into their set of codes. For example, all of California does require them. Also, according to ADASAD Advisory 504.4 Tread Surface, the contrasting color is not required, but strongly suggested. If you are unsure of the requirements in your area, check with your local building inspector.
This is a project we completed in NE Ohio. The customer was looking for space for a secure tool crib for maintenance storage as well as the flexibility to store product. As the product was quite heavy, we utilized the ground floor portion for storing those items and used welded galvanized fencing above to secure their maintenance department’s tool storage. The welded wire fencing was selected because of its versatility. Welded wire partition panels have a weld at each intersection of the wire. In contrast, woven wire generally has the individual wires woven and tied off or welded to a fence frame. The welded wire option is great for most jobs because it can be cut to size in the field. If you measure inaccurately, it is not the end of the world because you can trim the extra length off the panels. Likewise, if there is piping or beams running in the way it is easy enough to cut the welded wire fence panel to accommodate the obstruction, while still maintaining the wire partition panel’s integrity.
We utilized the existing stairs and landing from the building adjacent to the new crib in an effort to cut down cost and avoid taking up more room than necessary on their plant floor. The light you see is a reminder light for the operators of the adjacent crane. It reminds them that the mezzanine and tool crib are there so that they don’t bring their load all the way back to the stop and potentially come in contact with the new structure.
On the front side of the mezzanine, a sliding door was in place for the occasional pallets of materials for maintenance to offload and store. The customer went with a sliding door because it could be opened, a pallet of material could be set on the top of the mezzanine deck and then the sliding door could be closed while the pallet was offloaded. With a hinged gate they would have needed to pull the pallet away from the opening to close the open fall hazard, but that wasn’t going to be feasible due to the bar grating decking.
This customer opted for a simple keyed entry on the hinge door, but they could have used a push button or key card lock with electric strike as well.
Ultimately, they were able to have secure storage for their maintenance department while keeping their product storage below, at a price that fit their budget.