Comment for loft stairs

Anyone care to share their comment for loft stairs. Are there any standards (codes) for them.

I just say something like: Loft stairs are not intended for regular/everday use. Exercise caution when using these stairs.

I think if there are stairs in a home that are not suitable “for regular/everyday use” then that is a big problem. There are no separate standards for “loft stairs”. There are just stair standards (IRC R311.5)


Just to be clear…

Are you referring to a “loft” such as in a cabin/vacation retreat/barn etc…, where the “stairs” are more of a “ladder”…


A “loft” such as in a “condo” in the “big city”???

(Got pictures) ???


I see these types of stairs once in a while. I have even seen them to a ‘bedroom’. It is typically in a smaller house. This particular small house (with no dedicated bedroom) was going for about $450K. The loft was pretty small.

The low height of the guards and railings and the steepness of the stairs are a safety hazard.

If I don’t at least comment that the stair/ladder in question does not meet current standards, does pose a safety concern, and advise client of a “Safety enhancement upgrade” the first time something “accident” occurs guess who gets the call/letter to pay the medical/lost time/mental-physical anguish/legal fees…bills.

Inspector, Error and Omission by not reporting…imo

but I have to say, from what I can see, the stairs are trying to be aesthetically correct for that loft design and probably wont get changed…the guard rail also appears short and the treads appear to be triangular, right foot, left foot only orientation…weird and very unsafe!!!

designed by LSD, lost sense of direction

I’ve never seen stairs like that. Almost a ladder. They need to put in an elevator.

An open design, cast iron/wrought steel, circular staircase would also be an option… to maintain the area used, and would enhance the wood interior.


almost looks like some kind of sick twisted sobriety test to me…can You imagine trying to negotiate that after a couple ???

I’m sure that it could be argued that the loft is similar to an attic storage area. Those stairs might be OK for that type of use.

I hadn’t seen the triangle shaped steps before. It actually was pretty nice becuase you had more room in the center of the steps (as long as you kept your steps/feet in the right order;) )

I recently did a house where they had some good quality pull down attic stairs in the garage going to a room with kids beds in it:shock: . That one got my attention.

In order to use those handrails you will need to be on your knees going up, on your butt going down.

Ships ladders are very common around here for camps and log cabins.

It provides limited access to small areas as a bunk room or a loft as it is called. It is not meant for full access for all.
The stair design is OSHA approved when built accordingly.
There are no specific code requirement that I can find other than this here.

The stair should be within the parameters of 50-70 degrees from the horizontal.

The side rails should extend beyound the floor level above by 3’.

The one in the picture supplied to us in the above photo is a safety hazard. And that includes the guard rail as Barry mentioned in his post.

This type of ladder is used quite often in the Commercial Sector for Mezzanine equipment rooms etc.

Hope this helps.

Marcel :slight_smile: :smiley:

OSHA doesn’t “approve” anything. They set specifications. Semantics, perhaps, but a definite distinction.

OSHA has no authority whatsoever when it comes to home design or construction. They govern employee safety only. While this ladder might meet OSHA specs for employees (I doubt it…notice the treads and how they seem to oscillate…never saw anything like that) meeting building c0des comes under a different authority.

Hey…let’s not beat it to death. They aren’t going to change it. Just warn that it doesn’t meet today’s standards for new construction and move on to the next house.

I did state that the one in the picture is not a safe access.

I agree with you that it will not be changed.

I agree with you to move on. No problem.

Questions for you?

Are all Codes compliant with safety?

Are all Safety issues compliant with code?

Marcel :slight_smile: :smiley:

Hey, it’s a beach cottage in Eureka, CA. I’m surprised they got a home inspection at all. Maybe their astrologer recommended they get one. :stuck_out_tongue:
At that angle, I think the ship’s ladder would be safer.

pretty familiar with ships ladders Marcel …back in the day when general quarters/battle stations was called i could get down one of those puppies in less than 2 seconds…gettin up one took a bit longer…:wink: …jim

You lost me on that one.

FYI…at the risk of getting way off track into the obscure, OSHA did not “approve” the ladder design you posted. There is no “approval office” at OSHA where they review drawings and design specifications from manufacturers and stamp them “approved” and issue the manufacturer’s an “OSHA approved” sticker. They simply establish regulations and employers must meet those regulations by installing equipment that is compliant with the code. I worked for them for 4 years. I should know.

Hi. Joe;

When a Manufacturer of a product says that it is OSHA approved, the lingo in the industry, is that it meets or exceeds the OSHA requirements for that standard.

It is no different than buying a step ladder with the OSHA emblem on it to certify that it meets those standards.

The questions below have been restated for clarity.

Question 1: Are ship’s ladders (also known as ship’s stairs) required to meet the fixed ladder requirements in 29 CFR 1910.27?

Response: No. The standards for fixed ladders in §1910.27 do not apply to ship’s stairs.

Question 2: Can ship’s stairs be used in general industry?

Response: Existing §1910.27 does not address ship’s stairs. However, the 1990 Proposed Rule for Subpart D, Walking and Working Surfaces, 55 Federal Register 13360, addresses this issue at proposed §1910.25, Stairs, paragraph (e)(1), which states, “Ship’s stairs shall be installed at a slope between 50 degrees and 70 degrees from the horizontal.”


A frequently asked question is whether a ships ladder conforms to OSHA. The answer is somewhat complicated.
There is no single OSHA standard which specifically relates to the ships ladder design shown here. This product is
a hybrid which is neither a stair nor ladder and therefore has dimensions and design parameters which overlap and/or
conflict with OSHA standards for fixed stairways (Standard 1917.120) and fixed ladders (Standard 1910.27). Also
included below is a reprint of a standard interpretation letter from OSHA dated 2/10/2006.
Does this product meet OSHA requirements? We believe the answer is yes when; restricted areas preclude alternatives
and a due diligence safety review of the intended use and application has been performed by the end user. These ships
ladders are not intended to replace applications which require regular stairways but rather to fulfill the needs created
by restricted areas. Responsibility for determining the suitability of a particular use and application rests with the

Fixed wall ladders conform to OSHA and ANSI A 14.3 standards for fixed wall ladders.

Here is a criteria for a ships ladder that would be approved by OSHA for conformance;

Ship’s ladders to be designed and used as follows:

Have a uniform combination of rise and run that will result in a ladder at an angle to the horizontal of between 50 and 70 degrees. Stair treads to be not less than 5 inches in width and be spaced not more then 12" apart.

Have a standard handrail designed to provide an adequate hand hold to avoid falling. Handrails must be provided on both sides of a ship’s ladder.

Have a minimum of 6 inches of clearance between the stair rail and any fixed object or structure.

Have a minimum tread legth of 17 inches and a maximum length of 24 inches between stair rails.

Serves only a single platform or landing and extend to a maximum height not to exceed 12 feet.

Hope this helps to claify what I was trying to say to begin with.

Sorry I am French and takes a while. :wink:

Marcel :slight_smile: :smiley:

It’s irrelevant because OSHA has no authority when it comes to home construction. It’s been a great debate and I sincerely appreciate your input (and the ships ladder thing is truly useful), but let’s talk about something else.

What do you think about dropping bombs on Iran? I’m all for it. What was that song…“Bomb, bomb, bomb - bomb, bomb Iran”

Thanks for the info. guys. Great stuff… Except for the bombing Iran part. Definitely not the answer.