Guardrails

Voting section relating to Minnesota Building Codes.

See question below

Poll ended at Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:11 pm

Do you enforce the vague language of the code?
14
88%
Or the more descriptive language of the commentary?
2
13%
 
Total votes : 16

Guardrails

Postby forumadmin » Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:37 pm

2006 IRC Section R312 Guards. This code section gives the requirements for locations and situations where a guard is needed. But is not clear where the guard needs to begin. It says they are required where the stair is more than 30” above the floor (paraphrased).

2006 IBC Section 1013 Guards is somewhat similar, but no more descriptive in this condition.

2006 IRC Commentary Section R312 gets more descriptive, stating β€œThe scoping requirements for guards along open sides of stairs not only applies to the portion of a stairway that is more than 30 inches above the adjacent floor, but it will also apply to the entire open side of the stair, including the parts that are less than 30 inches above the floor.”

In the case of a stairway that turns 90 degrees at the bottom landing, is it allowable by code to start the guard at the point where a tread is 30” above the floor or grade, continuing up the stairway to a proper termination (wall, top tread or landing)? This is a situation where it would be difficult to move furniture up or down the stairs because of the 90 degree turn and the wall that caused the turn.

Do you enforce the vague language of the code?
Or the more descriptive language of the commentary?
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Re: Guardrails

Postby Patrick Parsley » Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:52 pm

We try to enforce only the language in the code. We do not require a guardrail on the open side of a stair or part of a stair that is less than 30" above grade.
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Re: Guardrails

Postby Roger Axel » Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:33 pm

'Vague' in the code? NO!!!! How about the definition of 'Approved'? That certainly could create some issues with uniformity. I have to go with the IRC text in Section R312 "Open sides of stairs...". The Commentary provides descriptive explanations to help clarify code provisions and should be used in an advisory capacity only (see Commentary Preface).
The question arises when the total rise of the flight of stairs described is more than 30" AFF (R312.1). Is a guard required the full length of that stair or just at the portion of the stair where the tread is more than 30" AFF? This goes back to what is acceptable to the building official (Approved). R312.1 is clear that the guard is required on the open side of the stair. Figure R312.1(1) in the Commentary helps explain the reasoning for the guard to be full length of the stair. If the BO is willing to accept less, then they need to document the modification and include that information in the property file (1300.0110 Subp. 12 Modifications). Unfortunately, I would not find "moving furniture" a practical difficulty to warrant not having the guard in place. Back to the designer to suggest increasing the width of the lower stair to accommodate future moving of furniture.
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Re: Guardrails

Postby JG MCP » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:26 am

I don't find the code section to be vague?? If a porch, balcony, ramp or raised floor surface is less than 30 inches in height from the floor or grade below, a guard is not required. Stairs have the same 30 inch requirement. If a stair is interupted by a landing it becomes two sets of stairs. A turn to another set of stairs at a lower landing (less than 30 inches above floor below) can have those stairs built without a guard and no handrail if less than four risers.
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