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» ICC Bulletin Board » Code Chat » Building and Residential Codes -- Non-Structural Issues » Handrail Clearance

   
Author Topic: Handrail Clearance
jjf_ATL
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2006 NFPA 101, Article 7.2.2.4.4.5 requires the clearance between a stair handrail and wall to be 2 1/2". 2006 IBC, 2003 ANSI A117.1 and ADAAG are still 1 1/2" (min). In regards to means of egress, Georgia recognizes NFPA 101 as the primary code. I would think that 2 1/2" clearance would be bad because it allows the whole arm to slip down between the handrail and wall. Has anyone had experience with this 2 1/2" clearance as stipulated in NFPA 101.

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D a v e
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No, however your observation is correct to the danger. What is the justification for the extra inch? [Razz]

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D a v e - Washington State - Have a Great Day - If we build to the code minimum we have built the worst building legally possible!

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Coug Dad
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NFPA 101 is 2.25 inches, not 2.5. I have no idea why NFPA is different from IBC and all the accessibility codes.
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Tom Zuzik Jr
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NFPA 101-2006 has the 2.25" clearence requirement. Jake Pauls - had this past at the same time he also requested it in the IBC, ANSI A117.1 & ADAAG were it failed, NFPA is the only one with it.

However, pending adoption by the justice department of the 2004 ADAAG which states 1.5" minimum. The older and currently enforced 1991 ADAAG says 1.5" period, not minimum.

This has caused some problems in states that adopted NFPA 101 and from my account, many have adopted NFPA-101 with an amendment changing the 2.25" to read 1.5" minimum.

If you call DC and ask ADAAG, they will inform you that they don't see a problem as they are working on the 2004 adoption, and most of the agencies have adopted the 2004 wording, it is only the Justice Dept that has been dragging their heals on adoption of the 2004 ADAAG.

The 2.25" was requested based on during a fall the extra finger clearance is needed at a minimum to help prevent someone falling from possibly hitting their fingers on the outer wall or guard.

The basis of falling behind the handrail if the space is to large is from the ANSI A117.1 for bathroom grab bars. The 1.5" exact requirement in 1991 ADAAG was pulled from here and is based on people laying their arms on the bar and pushing up with leverage on the wall also. To large a space and someone will slip through.

In simple terms we have found that the adopting AHJ has amended the NFPA to read 1.5" after finding the conflicting measurements and seeing that the most current ADAAG & ANSI both found not in favor of the 2.25" clearance.

Tom

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Mac
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If ANSI & ADAAG require a 1.5 inch minimum, what's wrong with a 2.25 inch clearance?

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"I'd rather get hung for something I did, than for something I didn't do"

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jjf_ATL
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Looks like in Geogia where NFPA 101 is the primary code when it comes to means of egress and apparently it has not been amended, the handrail clearance needs to be 2.25". Thanks.

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architect_atlanta

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Tom Zuzik Jr
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jjf-ATL,

Just remember currently until the DOJ adopts the 2004 ADAAG, the states 2.25" requirement is in violation of federal law. Not that anyone enforces it or probally cares.

Mac,

The 2.25" clearance requirement creates a whole lot of problems. To start with:

1. About 98% of stock handrail brackets will not work. So most are custom made for the 2.25"

2. The brackets that do meet the 2.25" need to be set no more than about 36" a part for the most part to meet the loads in the code. Yes the extra 3/4" does change a bunch of stock brackets from pass to fail in the calc's unless they are installed a lot closer together.

3. In the IBC, interiors of R-2 & R-3 are allowed to use type 2 handrails, which many are 2.375" and wider, add the 2.25" and you get 4.625" which is over the allowed 4.5" exception.

There are other reasons but you get the point, the 1.5" has been a standard that has a very good track record behind it and both groups of members working on the A117.1 & ADAAG agreed, as they reviewed the information in favor of the 2.25" and voted it down.

Tom

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Paul Sweet
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I think that BOCA required a 2 1/4" clearance on exterior handrails for a while. The justification for the change was to provide extra clearance for people wearing thick gloves.
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genebko
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Well, isn't a required 2.25 inches still the same as being greater than the minimum 1.5 inches? It meets both codes at 2.25 inches.

Tom touched on the rationale - the 1.5 inches came from the grab bar requirement. But the grab bar usage is not the same as a handrail usage. Hence, they will be keeping the 1.5 inch absolute for grab bras and changing the ADAAG to be 1.5 inches minimum under the new ADAAG text.

Yes, BOCA had a larger dimension once. It was based partly on Jake Pauls argument but also recognizing the fact that a gloved hand needs more clearance between the handrail and the wall and teh 1.5 inches was insufficient for proper clearance in many mid- to northern states.

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Tom Zuzik Jr
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genebko,

quote:
Well, isn't a required 2.25 inches still the same as being greater than the minimum 1.5 inches? It meets both codes at 2.25 inches.
You are forgetting that the currently adopted and enforced ADAAG is not 1.5" min it is 1.5" absolute.

Hence as a fabricator & installer, the 2.25" NFPA requirement requests that we install a product against Federal Law.

Some of you may not see this as a problem, but as a manufacture our product is required to meet all requirements, not just some of the requirements.

So I guess it's ok to use the 2009 IBC with it's changes in stead of the adopted and enforced 2006 IBC?

(adopted vr's published)

I just don't get how an AHJ openly adopts a code that is in direct conflict with the currently enforced ADAAG. At a minimum, they should of added an exception that tied it to a point when the 2004 ADAAG gets adopted.

Thus, 1.5" is fine till the 2004 ADAAG goes in to effect, then the 2.25" is required.

Just seems normal, Goverment agency does not care about the pickle they put the private industry in.

Tom

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genebko
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Tom,

I see what your dilemma is - what one says and what the other says.

Unfortunately, its the other way around - the Feds have dragged their feet on getting the ADAAG updated while the model code people have been actively working on keeping their documents up to date. Not having an update adopted to the ADAAG since 1994 is a sorry statement about the US DoJ. Hopefully they'll get their act together in the next year.

And no, you cannot simply use the 2009 instead of the 2006 IBC. But you probably should be designing and manufacturing to it soon.

btw: I too spoke with the DoJ and the Access Board about the handrail issue. They told me the straight line about "what the rules are" for teh handrail clearance. They also told me that, off the record, as long as there aren't other issues with the accessibility components to the building, it is unlikely that there will be an issue with an installation that meets the newer ADAAG. There are other things in a building that are more "sensitive" to dimensional tolerances and criticism that handrails.

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"We are the people our parents warned us about" - Jimmy Buffett

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peach
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NFPA 101 is not a model code .. nor is it a construction code.

my dad had huge hands and 1.5" always worked for him..

Since all standard brackets are set for 1.5", to go greater (or less), you'll be using some non standard (and maybe less safe) bracket (maybe that Bobby Joe makes in his garage.. with no QC)

Federal Law trumps NFPA 101

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Thanks for the memories.. Frank (old blue eyes) Sinatra

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jjf_ATL
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Thanks for the input. We have a project in Georgia and Louisiana where NFPA 101 rules. The plan reviewers look at NFPA only and we are, therefore as stated above, forced to go against Federal Law - quite a dilemma.

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architect_atlanta

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Tom Zuzik Jr
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Genebko,

Yes the model codes have moved forward, the 2.25" is moving backwards imo, was it not in 1998 A117.1 and then removed? then looked at for the 2004 ADAAG, not changed? ICC looked at it no change. ANSI looked at it again with the newer yet to be realeased, again a no go, BOCA had it a little.

I work with handrails every day, at my small size of 6', 270 plus and off the rack XL gloves not fitting, very large hands to say the least. I have no problem with gloves hitting the wall or other with 1.5".

I have reviewed the studies and 5 people being tested on a device without a wall in place will produce results of nothing more than what would happen when a wall is not in place, in my opinion.

To test without a real world setting on five people and then say this is the way it should be, because xyz.


well I don't get it,

I have most likely fallen on stairs more than the average person, you see I work on them pretty much daily. I have had tools take my skin and hurt my hands, but I can't ever remember a wall or guard within 1.5" of the edge stopping me from my quick grab, no problems running my hand down or damaging my hands.

I have however, had my hand slip off handrails in winter with ski gloves on and my arm landing on top and leaning on the wall stopped my fall.

I have had the same fall when a wall is not present with a handrail on post up the center of the stairs, the wall helped being close. 1.5" over 2.25" at my size, well can't say I beleive a change in result for me, but a smaller person, arm slip, I can see a problem.

I too have spoken to a few at ADAAG and get the same off the record response, but on the record DOJ says 1.5" and the adopting AHJ should adjust with a amending exception, I was always told 2 wrongs don't make it right. I don't see this adoption as progress when the AHJ puts small business people like me in a pickle like this, Sorry the word progress does not fit, I see it more as sticken it to the little guy.

AS for planning ahead, well we do, the problem is people think it is nothing to extend out another 3/4", well the materials must change, you go from 1/2" to 5/8" plus, with casted brackets you almost have to double the size of the bar for the additional loads. When you go back a bracket that cost lets say $15.00 is now costing $24.00 and by the way you now need another 20% more brackets to do the project.

You now have more materials and more labor, with more brackets. seems like not that big a deal, but on a four story staircase we have found it to be about a 14% plus increase in our cost. Projects are lost at bid on 2%.

On the surface 2.25" might not seem that big a deal but is bigger always better?

Tom

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Uncle Bob
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JJF,

I'm a little confused by your statement that;

"We have a project in Georgia and Louisiana where NFPA 101 rules."

considering;

http://www.bookmarki.com/Blanco-Signs-Louisiana-Building-Code-Bill-s/190.htm

and,

http://www.dca.state.ga.us/development/constructioncodes/programs/codes2.asp

Am I missing something here?

Uncle Bob

[ 05-20-2009, 05:18 AM: Message edited by: Uncle Bob ]

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UB
There is another law in Georgia that uses the Fire Marshal's Rules and Regulations 120-3-3 to coordinate between the various Codes and Standards.

IIRC Louisiana has a similar rule in place. Not to stir the pot but the Fire guys have had their stuff together a lot longer than we have and have lots more legislation behind them.

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jjf_ATL
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UB:

Georgia amendments has this chart that states NFPA as the primary code regarding means of egress.

The plan reviewer for the city in Louisiana is the Fire Marshall who looks at NFPA only.

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architect_atlanta

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Uncle Bob
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"Georgia amendments has this chart that states NFPA as the primary code regarding means of egress."

Would someone, kindly, provide that amendment so I can read it? Please.

How can a State adopt two different sets of building codes and then state that one has authority over the other?

Kinda defeats the idea of a set of standards that can be understood.

Help me out here folk,

Uncle Bob

[ 05-20-2009, 06:37 AM: Message edited by: Uncle Bob ]

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georgia plans examiner
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The State of Georgia has not adopted the 2006 version of NFPA 101 and is still using the 2000 version which uses the 1 1/2" measurement in Section 7.2.2.4.5(2) unless, of course, you are dealing with a local amendment.

GPE

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georgia plans examiner
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http://www.dca.state.ga.us/development/constructioncodes/programs/downloads/codespdf/IBC%202007.pdf
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Uncle Bob
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GPE,

Wow, you really have your hands full.

Thanks, now I understand. That must be some nightmare; having to bounce back and forth between those.

And, I've been complaining about buying a set ICC code books.

Must be a nightmare for contractors.

So much for having a consist set of codes across our land. [Frown]

Uncle Bob

[ 05-20-2009, 07:22 AM: Message edited by: Uncle Bob ]

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Putting back my e-mail address; osoros@hotmail.com (ps. my real name is not "Bob Hamilton"); just in case I find that I am not a "valued member". :(

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georgia plans examiner
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Yup.
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