wheelchair ramp installation

Wheelchair Ramps for Public Spaces: Improving Accessibility and Inclusivity

wheelchair ramp installation
This wheelchair ramp was installed at a modular building in Forest View, IL.

Regardless of a person’s physical capabilities, accessibility is a fundamental right that should be protected. Yet, despite recent advancements, accessibility for people with impairments remains a problem. The absence of wheelchair ramps in public areas is among the most frequent issues. We’ll talk about the value of wheelchair ramps in public places and how they can increase inclusion and accessibility in this article.

It is crucial first to comprehend what a wheelchair ramp is and why it is required. A wheelchair ramp is a sloping surface that serves as an alternative to steps and allows users of wheelchairs or other mobility aids to enter a building or public area on their own. For everyone to have equal access to public spaces, including those with mobility impairments, wheelchair ramps are crucial. However, they have several advantages for everyone, including parents with strollers, delivery personnel, and those who have sustained temporary ailments.

TK Render of Wheelchair Ramps

Our ADA-compliant wheelchair and access ramps feature modular components that bolt together. The solution eliminates custom fabrication, code compliance issues, and time-consuming engineering while reducing costs, installation time, and complexity. Weather-resistant aluminum can be reconfigured to adapt to changing applications or remobilizations, ensuring the industry’s longest service life.

The APEX System is a line of integrated access products that can be configured to meet the most challenging applications.

View our wheelchair ramp installations

The fact that wheelchair ramps encourage inclusivity is one of its main advantages. People with disabilities can participate in activities and events that they might not otherwise be able to attend by providing wheelchair ramps in public areas. This could be visiting friends, shopping, attending a show or athletic event, or attending class. People with disabilities feel more at home, have more independence, and value themselves more when allowed to enter public spaces.

Moreover, wheelchair ramps increase safety. Without a ramp, those in wheelchairs may have to travel across steep or uneven ground, increasing the risk of accidents and injury. People with mobility issues can enter public areas and move around more safely, thanks to wheelchair ramps.

Wheelchair ramps also increase the number of clients or guests in shops and public places. For instance, a restaurant’s revenue will increase if it features a wheelchair ramp that attracts people in wheelchairs. Similarly, more people can visit parks if they have wheelchair ramps, which will promote tourism and benefit the neighborhood’s economy.

In summary, wheelchair ramps enhance inclusivity and accessibility in public spaces. They promote inclusivity, make traveling easier and safer for those with disabilities, and generate income for local companies and the community. No matter how physically disabled someone is, society must ensure that public spaces are accessible to all.

wheelchair ramp installation

10 Reasons to Install Wheelchair Ramps in Retirement Communities and Nursing Homes

wheelchair ramp installation
This wheelchair ramp system was installed for Brookdale Retirement Home in Emporia, KS

As we age, navigating stairs and other obstacles can become increasingly challenging. This is particularly true for retirement community and nursing home residents, who often face mobility limitations.

TK Render of Wheelchair Ramps

Our ADA-compliant wheelchair and access ramps feature modular components that bolt together. The solution eliminates custom fabrication, code compliance issues, and time-consuming engineering while reducing costs, installation time, and complexity. Weather-resistant aluminum can be reconfigured to adapt to changing applications or remobilizations, ensuring the industry’s longest service life.

The APEX System is a line of integrated access products that can be configured to meet the most challenging applications.

View our nursing home wheelchair ramp installations

Installing wheelchair ramps in these settings can significantly improve the quality of life for residents. Here are 10 reasons why wheelchair ramps are essential in retirement communities and nursing homes:

  1. Improved Accessibility – Wheelchair ramps offer a safe and straightforward way for residents using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids to move around the community or facility. With ramps, residents can maintain their independence and enjoy greater freedom without depending on others for help.
  2. Compliance with the Law – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all public buildings and facilities be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including wheelchair users. Installing wheelchair ramps is crucial in complying with the law and ensuring equal access for all residents.
  3. Increased Safety – Ramps provide a stable and secure surface for walking, reducing the risk of falls and other accidents. Additionally, ramps are designed to accommodate mobility aids such as walkers, canes, and crutches, making it safer for residents to use these devices to move around.
  4. Improved Quality of Life – The ability to navigate the community or facility without barriers or obstacles fosters a sense of independence and freedom. Residents who can move around freely are more likely to engage in social activities, attend events, and participate in community life, leading to increased happiness, reduced isolation, and improved quality of life.
  5. Easy to Install – Wheelchair ramps are simple to install and can be customized to meet the unique needs of each community or facility. They can be constructed from various materials and designed to blend in with the surrounding environment.
  6. Cost-Effective – Installing wheelchair ramps is a cost-effective way to enhance accessibility in retirement communities and nursing homes. The cost of ramps can vary depending on the materials used and the size of the installation, but overall, ramps are a relatively inexpensive solution to accessibility challenges.
  7. Long-Lasting – Wheelchair ramps are durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions, making them a long-lasting solution for improving accessibility in retirement communities and nursing homes. Our ADA-compliant wheelchair and access ramps feature modular components that bolt together. The solution eliminates custom fabrication, code compliance issues, and time-consuming engineering while reducing costs, installation time, and complexity. Weather-resistant aluminum can be reconfigured to adapt to changing applications or remobilizations, ensuring the industry’s longest service life.
  8. Easy to Maintain – Once installed, wheelchair ramps require minimal maintenance. They can be easily cleaned and inspected periodically to remain safe and secure.
  9. Aesthetically Pleasing – Wheelchair ramps can be designed to blend in with the surrounding environment and architecture of the community or facility. This can enhance the property’s overall aesthetic appeal while also improving accessibility.
  10. Inclusivity – Installing wheelchair ramps promotes inclusivity and demonstrates a commitment to providing equal access to all residents, regardless of their mobility challenges. This can create a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone.

In conclusion, installing wheelchair ramps in retirement communities and nursing homes is vital in providing accessible, safe, and inclusive living environments for all residents. Wheelchair ramps can significantly improve the lives of seniors and people with disabilities by making it easier for them to get around, keeping them safe, enhancing their quality of life, and fostering a sense of belonging.

Upside Robotic welder

Innovation for the win

At Upside Innovations, we are constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the manufacturing of OSHA, IBC, and ADA-compliant stairs. Our team of skilled welders and technicians is dedicated to creating high-quality products that are not only safe and reliable but also aesthetically pleasing.

In recent years, we have been investing in the latest technology to enhance our manufacturing process, and we are proud to introduce our cutting-edge robotic welder. This advanced machine is revolutionizing how we produce stairs, making our operation safer, faster, and more efficient than ever.

Robotic welder ushering innovations in Upside manufacturing process

Our robotic welder is designed to work seamlessly with our expert welders and technicians. It helps them to perform complex welding tasks with precision, speed, and accuracy, reducing the likelihood of human error and increasing the consistency of our product quality. Additionally, the robot can work around the clock, ensuring that we can deliver products to our clients in a timely and efficient manner.

Integrating robotics into our manufacturing process has allowed us to enhance the safety and well-being of our team members. The robot welder performs tasks that would have been hazardous to our welders, such as welding in tight spaces, welding in awkward positions, and welding near hazardous materials. With the robot taking over these tasks, our welders can focus on other important aspects of the manufacturing process, such as quality control, design, and customer service.

The robotic welder has also increased our productivity significantly, allowing us to handle larger orders and complex projects with ease. With this new technology, we can produce our products faster, without compromising on the quality of our final product. This means we can meet the growing demand for our products while maintaining our commitment to excellence.

In conclusion, integrating robotics into our manufacturing process at Upside Innovations has been a game-changer for our business. We are proud to be at the forefront of technological innovation, using cutting-edge machines to enhance our manufacturing process and provide our clients with the highest quality products. Our team is excited to continue exploring new ways to use technology to improve our products and services.

Launch of Upside Innovations APEX and DOCK Step 

SIXAXIS ANNOUNCES THE LAUNCH OF UPSIDE INNOVATIONS APEX AND DOCK STEP MODULAR ACCESS SYSTEMS

CINCINNATI, OHIO OCTOBER 28, 2022 —Upside Innovations, a SixAxis company, has launched an innovative new modular access system. The APEX System is a modular, prefabricated line of ADA, IBC, and OSHA-compliant stairs, ramps, and canopies designed to improve safe access for businesses in a wide variety of industrial, commercial, educational, and professional sectors. Industrial-grade aluminum components bolt together to create infinite configurations, making the APEX System ideal as the needs of an installation change. By eliminating the need for custom fabrication and time-consuming engineering, the APEX System reduces costs, installation time, and complexity.

DOCK STEP industrial loading dock stairs are manufactured for use in warehouses and distribution centers. Also made from industrial-grade aluminum components, DOCK STEP systems will never rust, warp, or rot. While most loading docks only require OSHA compliance, Upside systems are also IBC and ADA compliant maximizing safety for those entering and exiting the loading dock area.

TK Render of OSHA/IBC DOCK Steps
DOCK Step

President Kevin Sharp is pleased with the expansion of the Upside Innovations modular access product line. “DOCK STEP joins the APEX System family of products including the SEMI and OMNI product lines,” he explains. “Our integrated access system of prefabricated stairs, ramps, canopies, and awnings meet the needs of our customers on a more comprehensive level.” To learn more about the APEX System, visit https://upsideinnovations.com/

SixAxis has been providing access and safety systems to the truck, rail, ship, aviation, and aerospace industries using state-of-the-art technology since 2003. Their award-winning patented products are marketed under brands including SafeRack, ErectaStep, MarinaStep, AeroStep, YellowGate, RollaStep, and Upside Innovations.

About SixAxis

SixAxis was founded in 2002 to deliver high-quality loading rack and fall protection solutions to companies around the world. Their award-winning products and patents have been developed to increase safety and boost productivity for industry-leading Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing, Dow, and Coca-Cola. For information about how SixAxis is changing the world of manufacturing, visit sixaxisllc.com. 

Career Opportunities

At SixAxis, we don’t just create products, we’ve revolutionized safety. The diversity of our people and their ideas inspire the innovation that runs through everything we do, from patented technology to industry-leading thinking. Interested in helping us make the world a safer place? Join our growing team. Get started by visiting us at sixaxisllc.com/careers

Upside Employees Lining Up at Foodtruck

Celebrating two years without a lost time accident

Upside Innovations’ team celebrates two years since a lost-time accident

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

WEST CHESTER, OH (October 5, 2022) – Upside Innovation celebrated 2-years without a lost-time accident last week by bringing in J’s Fish Taco truck for a luncheon at our West Chester, OH headquarters on October 5th. This milestone comes after significant focus by the team on accident prevention. We have driven a safety culture by identifying and highlighting “Good Safety Catches” from all levels within the organization.

Our “Good Catch” program has grown over the last few months and works by encouraging employees to identify and acknowledge safe acts from coworkers, and address potential safety hazards as they are noticed and before they can cause an injury. Safety and prior day good catches lead the discussion at our daily lean daily management meetings every morning. This laser focus has created an environment where an employee sees something and immediately does something to reduce the risk.

We look forward to embarking on our third year without a lost-time accident and believe this will be possible with continued focus on keeping an eye out for each other, commending each other on good safe practices, and taking action on identified hazards.

Upside Innovations is a SixAxis portfolio company.

Render of Wheelchair Ramp Requirements

Creating Safe & Equal Access for All with Wheelchair Accessible Ramps

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Safe access to public, private, and commercial buildings is necessary to keep schools, health care services, churches, and businesses accessible for people of all physical abilities. Whether you are welcoming visitors, customers, patients, or employees to your hospital, school, church, or private business, ensuring appropriate, independent access for those with limited mobility is essential, and in many cases required by law.

Commercial-grade wheelchair ramps can be permanent or portable and modular and enable people equal access to your modular building regardless of their mobility limitations. Safe, smooth access for anyone, regardless of their physical challenges, is necessary for creating a welcoming and inclusive environment. Modular wheelchair ramps are an excellent way to do just that.

Choosing a Ramp to Fit All Mobility Devices

It’s important to consider the wide variety of mobility equipment that will be utilized by people on your ramp when choosing a proper fit. Patients in various states of recovery from surgery or injury may need the assistance of a wheelchair, scooter, walker, or cane. As healing and recovery happen, visitors to your building may no longer need these devices and a portable ramp may feel like the best option. But don’t assume these needs will be temporary!

Investment in a permanent ramp may be the best option when considering the needs of those people with a permanent need for mobility assistive devices. Many people who live with lifelong or progressive mobility challenges will benefit from a permanent ramp to accommodate safe and easy access to your building. And don’t forget about weather impacts such as snow, ice, and wind. Ramp access should always include extra precautions to prevent slips, trips, and falls as a result of extreme weather. Take care to consider drainage and traction issues as the seasons change in your region.


DIY or Hire a Professional?
Whether you choose to install your wheelchair ramp yourself or hire a professional, it is vital that care is taken to ensure optimal safety as well as compliance with all regional or industry-specific laws. If you or someone on your team have construction skills, self-installation is an excellent option. No matter your skillset or background, always consult with your local building codes and compliance requirements to ensure your wheelchair ramp is installed correctly. 

Not ready to take this on yourself? Professional installation is probably right for you. Whether your wheelchair ramp will be permanent, semi-permanent, modular, or temporary, a complicated design or 180-degree switchback design will most definitely require the use of a professional installer. And it doesn’t end there! Consider how your wheelchair ramp will affect your building’s market value, and don’t scrimp on quality for any reason.

ADA Compliant Ramps

People with mobility impairments are entitled to reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Although the location and size of your business may exclude you from this obligation, compliance can be of great benefit to your business and the people you serve.

Professional installers should be well aware of ADA ramp regulations, the rationale behind each guideline, and the areas where safe deviations can be made based on the specific installation. While the ADA is not mandatory for ramps used at home, modular ramps for public use must still comply with the ADA in most cases.

Custom APEX Ramp Install Cleveland Court House
This 70′ APEX switchback Ramp was Installed at the Cuyahoga County Court House in Cleveland, Ohio.

Installers who are inexperienced may not know how to determine a wheelchair ramp slope that is safe for your building. A ramp that is too short could be unsafe for visitors using a particular mobility device. Additionally, details such as the exact width of your handicap ramp or turn platforms and when a rest platform is required are equally significant. Without attention to state and federal ADA regulations, your ramp could be unsafe, non-compliant, and in need of adjustments later.

In addition to proper installation, your wheelchair ramp must also provide safety features such as a slip-resistant surface, a sturdy decking or travel surface, and handrails with a suitable height. While some accidents are unavoidable, a professionally installed, ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp is more likely to prevent unnecessary mishaps. 

The Importance of Your Wheelchair Ramp

While your business’s wheelchair ramp may seem like a simple, straightforward component related to the infrastructure of your building, the proper installation, care, and maintenance of it will go a long way toward helping differently-abled individuals feel included and accepted by your service, business, or institution. Safe and secure wheelchair ramps send a positive message in any public space or establishment that aims to be inclusive and accessible for all. By providing a safe and easy way for wheelchair users to enter and exit buildings, wheelchair ramps empower differently-abled individuals to participate fully in shared public life. 

Safety & Accessibility Are Your Responsibility
There’s no denying that wheelchair ramps are an essential accommodation for people with mobility impairments, such as those who use walkers or crutches, and play a crucial role in promoting inclusion and accessibility. By doing the right thing and installing a safe and secure ADA-compliant ramp for your modular building, you are not only becoming a part of the solution, but you are helping to facilitate a broader cultural shift towards greater awareness and acceptance of disability as an integral part of society.

Creating Safe & Equal Access for All with Wheelchair Accessible Ramps
Safe access to public, private, and commercial buildings is necessary to keep schools, health care services, churches, and businesses accessible for people of all physical abilities. Whether you are welcoming visitors, customers, patients, or employees to your hospital, school, church, or private business, ensuring appropriate, independent access for those with limited mobility is essential, and in many cases required by law.


Commercial-grade wheelchair ramps can be permanent or portable and modular and enable people equal access to your modular building regardless of their mobility limitations. Safe, smooth access for anyone, regardless of their physical challenges, is necessary for creating a welcoming and inclusive environment. Modular wheelchair ramps are an excellent way to do just that.

Choosing a Ramp to Fit All Mobility Devices

It’s important to consider the wide variety of mobility equipment that will be utilized by people on your ramp when choosing a proper fit. Patients in various states of recovery from surgery or injury may need the assistance of a wheelchair, scooter, walker, or cane. As healing and recovery happen, visitors to your building may no longer need these devices and a portable ramp may feel like the best option. But don’t assume these needs will be temporary!

Investment in a permanent ramp may be the best option when considering the needs of those people with a permanent need for mobility assistive devices. Many people who live with lifelong or progressive mobility challenges will benefit from a permanent ramp to accommodate safe and easy access to your building. And don’t forget about weather impacts such as snow, ice, and wind. Ramp access should always include extra precautions to prevent slips, trips, and falls as a result of extreme weather. Take care to consider drainage and traction issues as the seasons change in your region.


DIY or Hire a Professional?
Whether you choose to install your wheelchair ramp yourself or hire a professional, it is vital that care is taken to ensure optimal safety as well as compliance with all regional or industry-specific laws. If you or someone on your team have construction skills, self-installation is an excellent option. No matter your skillset or background, always consult with your local building codes and compliance requirements to ensure your wheelchair ramp is installed correctly. 

Not ready to take this on yourself? Professional installation is probably right for you. Whether your wheelchair ramp will be permanent, semi-permanent, modular, or temporary, a complicated design or 180-degree switchback design will most definitely require the use of a professional installer. And it doesn’t end there! Consider how your wheelchair ramp will affect your building’s market value, and don’t scrimp on quality for any reason.

The Importance of Your Wheelchair Ramp

While your business’s wheelchair ramp may seem like a simple, straightforward component related to the infrastructure of your building, the proper installation, care, and maintenance of it will go a long way toward helping differently-abled individuals feel included and accepted by your service, business, or institution. Safe and secure wheelchair ramps send a positive message in any public space or establishment that aims to be inclusive and accessible for all. By providing a safe and easy way for wheelchair users to enter and exit buildings, wheelchair ramps empower differently-abled individuals to participate fully in shared public life. 

Safety & Accessibility Are Your Responsibility
There’s no denying that wheelchair ramps are an essential accommodation for people with mobility impairments, such as those who use walkers or crutches, and play a crucial role in promoting inclusion and accessibility. By doing the right thing and installing a safe and secure ADA-compliant ramp for your modular building, you are not only becoming a part of the solution, but you are helping to facilitate a broader cultural shift towards greater awareness and acceptance of disability as an integral part of society.

Covered walkway between buildings

4 Tips to Retain Commercial Tenants

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For landlords, retaining current tenants is extremely critical to generating and sustaining a good source of income for the long term. However, keeping them isn’t like a walk in the park, especially if you manage many renters. A variety of criteria influences renter retention in commercial retail establishments.

Here are four key tips that commercial real estate property owners can use to maintain commercial tenants:

Create an open channel of contact and be receptive to their concerns

Commercial renters often do not demand much care, but they anticipate a prompt answer when they contact a maintenance request or other problems. A quicker reaction is a positive indicator, and it will make retail renters feel more at ease in your facility. If the renter does not respond promptly, they may consider looking for another rental property. Providing greater attention to the interests like the safety of their workers will result in higher levels of satisfaction and a greater likelihood of tenants renewing their lease.

Simplify the procedure and include incentives

Attempt to make the processes as simple as possible for renters by streamlining them where feasible. Renter process optimization may go a long way in assisting you in increasing tenant satisfaction and increasing the possibility of obtaining commercial retail renters. Several strategies to expedite operations include allowing renters to pay rent online or providing them with online access to submit maintenance requests for metal awnings.

Another strategy to keep your tenants happy is to reward them for renewing their contracts. You can provide incentives such as limited-time deals, freebies, discounts, and so on.

Put together a plan

Operating a commercial property is similar to launching a small business, and there must be mechanisms in place for a retail location to be viable. To run a good property management company, you need to ensure that the property is well-kept and that the current tenants and employees are safe in their facilities like having handrails in proper OSHA-established heights. If a good system exists, a property owner can simply deal with maintenance concerns, repairs, and renters.

Begin as soon as possible

Be on the lookout for any leases that will be up for renewal or expiration in the next two years, as well. Negotiations can begin as soon as the due dates approach, depending on the property selections and the buy-and-hold plan.

Keeping tenants happy is a key part of managing the rental property. While many factors influence renter retention, these four tips can help you maintain your commercial tenants for years to come. Do you have any other suggestions on keeping renters long-term? Please share them with us in the comments!

Heirarchy-of-Controls

Active vs. Passive Fall Protection: Standing Within OSHA’s Hierarchy of Controls

It would be ideal for every safety professional to find a straightforward solution when dealing with fall accidents in the workplace.

It would seem that having a uniform height across all jobs and sectors would make enforcement easy. However, this is not the case for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While OSHA’s goal is to keep people safe in most businesses, keep in mind that local construction codes, such as OSHA, contracts, and site regulations may exceed statutory standards.

Heirarchy-of-Controls

The distinction between passive and active fall prevention is a reasonable starting point. Industrial operation managers will be more educated to choose one course over another after that. The importance of knowledge in terms of safety is never an understatement.

Falls need careful consideration from safety professionals, and adding fall prevention training may boost morale. Talking about what happened during the incident can show that the company cares and improves how it plans to avoid these accidents from happening or recurring if they have already occurred before.

At the baseline, the proactive approach in fall protection should include:

  • The organization should identify the reason for the fall.
  • Examine and dismantle any malfunctioning personal fall arrest devices or equipment, such as scaffolding, work platforms, or ladders that may have contributed to the fall.
  • Create a fall prevention strategy or assess one that the company already has in place.
  • Talk to employees about their difficulties openly and honestly.
  • Organize a fall prevention retraining course and make the need for fall protection known throughout the business. 

OSHA has set limits for workplace height. Suppose any company does not meet these proposed limits. In that case, it is recommended that employers take precautions before risking an employee’s life by falling too far onto specific equipment or into dangerous situations like staircases while moving materials around on-site at job sites with no guardrails nearby.

OSHA Height Limits

In summary, here are the OSHA height limits where fall protection is required:

  • Four feet (1.2 meters) for industrial workspaces OSHA 1910.28(b)(1)(i)
  • Five feet (1.5 meters) for shipyards
  • Six feet (1.82 meters) for construction sites OSHA 1926.501(b)(1)
  • Eight feet (2.43 meters) for longshoring operations 

Employers may safeguard workers against falls in various ways, including using traditional methods like guardrails, safety nets, personal fall protection devices, implementing safe work practices, and providing proper training. In some cases, OSHA allows the use of warning lines, designated areas, control zones, and other similar systems, which can offer protection by restricting the number of employees exposed. 

Thinking about fall risks before the job begins, whether completing a hazard assessment or building a thorough fall protection strategy, will assist the employer in managing fall hazards and focusing emphasis on preventive measures. If personal fall protection devices are utilized, special attention should be paid to locating attachment points and ensuring that personnel correctly understand operating and inspect the equipment.

Active vs. Passive Fall Protection

A passive fall prevention system includes all safety features that are essentially static, immovable, or unmovable. When installing a passive system for fall prevention, there is no requirement for human involvement with the device, and no personal protective equipment is required. As previously indicated, they serve as the second line of safety against falls. The well-known examples of passive fall protection systems are:

A stair railing is available to halt a fall regardless a person is holding onto it or not. Whether workers are watching their steps or not, a netting beneath a scaffold will capture them. Put another way, there is hardly anything anyone can do to ensure that passive systems preserve their life or limb.

On the flip side, active fall protection technologies can be used when passive fall prevention is not an option. The active system is often viewed as dynamic, feature moving elements and necessitates human intervention to operate effectively. Workers must put their safety first by putting on the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) as part of an active system. A fall prevention system that is active consists of the following moveable components:

Hierarchy of Controls for Fall Protection

OSHA’s Hierarchy of Controls for fall protection appeared in their 2011 student manual. This hierarchy explains how to prioritize fall protection solutions. The fall protection hierarchy is utilized as the framework for the most appropriate strategy to prevent workplace falls. This blueprint employs the fall protection hierarchy to identify fall risks and then provides the most beneficial and viable approach for addressing the existing threats.

Obviously, the best approach should first start with prevention — when an organization eliminates fall hazards. Fall protection should be our first alternative in many cases because preventative strategies are not always accessible. If the fall dangers cannot be removed, the next step is to choose the best fall protection solution for the job.

Hierarchy of Controls for Fall Protection

Naturally, no single fall prevention solution is sufficient for all work functions. We must always examine each work and activity to establish the correct form of fall protection since the structure will differ from project to project.

Passive and active fall protection methods are in the middle of the hierarchy, with passive methods ranking more effective than the active methods because these passive methods complement in eliminating fall hazards. Active fall restraints rank better than administrative controls and personal protective equipment (PPE). To construct a system that safeguards individuals from fall hazards, companies need a skilled engineer and a competent person to implement policies or make these restraints operate effectively.

Organizations do need any special equipment to confine themselves by eliminating hazards or passive fall protection. When prevention does not cut the hazards completely, protection methods in the lower rung of the hierarchy can be applied. Administrative controls like marking controlled access zones, the management, administrators, and other staff members must take a stand to implement the correct use of fall safety equipment. A knowledge-based teaching approach will provide workers with the skills they need to establish safe working environments for when personnel is required to operate at a certain height. Administrative controls and PPE provision will encourage the necessary intervention and engagement of the workforce to integrate with preventive strategies.

Picture of Solar Panels

Big-Time Solar Panel Contractor Cited for OSHA Violations

A well-known solar panel contractor has been cited for exposing workers to dangerous fall hazards. The company headquartered in Louisiana is one of the leading solar panel installers in the nation. OSHA issued a third-party citation after an investigation found that it violated federal workplace safety requirements despite being previously cited twice in two years.

Following an inquiry by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Marc Jones Construction LLC – also known as Sunpro Solar – for a repeat safety violation after inspectors discovered employees exposed to falls, the most common cause of death and severe injuries in the construction business. Furthermore, the government agency cited the firm for permitting staff to climb up and down extension ladders while holding items that may have prompted them to fall and for screwing up to offer employees a fall safety program.

Marc Jones Construction LLC had received two repeat violations prior, which are issued when an employer previously experienced a similar breach of the same standard or regulation. OSHA referred the Louisiana-based company for similar violations twice in Texas, San Antonio in January 2021, and El Paso in April 2020. “This is another example that falls continue to be one of the leading causes for death and serious injury in construction work,” said DOL OSHA Regional Administrator Condell Eastmond. The OSHA fined the company almost $161,000 in penalties for the violations it committed.

side-view-commercial-metal-awning

Based in Mandeville, Louisiana, Marc Jones Construction LLC is a business and residential solar panel installation firm with operations in 21 states. Sunpro Solar, formed in 2008, was named second on “Solar Power World” magazine’s rank of leading home solar installers in the United States in 2021.

After receiving the citations and fines, the organization has 15 business days to cooperate, seek an informal meeting with OSHA’s local director, or appeal the allegations before the independent OSHA commission.

Roofing contractors have become a target of OSHA inspections. At least five roofing contractors were cited in 2018 for violating workplace safety requirements, including one in Kentucky. The installation of metal awnings is being considered to be prone to fall hazards. This is the reason why Upside Innovations is providing experts to ensure that there are no untoward incidents in your workplace or your facilities. Upside Innovations stays committed to ensuring the safety of our employees and protecting the environment through safe work practices.

Roof-mounted railings are a common type of safety measure employed by contractors. Guardrails with safety swing gates are generally placed six feet from the edge of the roof. If anything near the border, like a condenser unit, barriers are needed right up to it.

It may be unappealing to put bright yellow barriers around the perimeter of the roof. There are methods to meet OSHA standards without resorting to such measures. Galvanized rails, for example, are less obtrusive visually but might be prone to corrosion. This is why aluminum handrails are recommended for them to be more durable in weather conditions on the rooftop.

The use of guardrails is also an architectural problem. Some building owners, for example, surround the roof with bright yellow rails. It is under OSHA standards, but it gives the impression that the facility is always under construction and distracted from other structure areas. There are several alternative products available to assist building owners in acquiring OSHA permits. What is important is that building workers and visitors are kept safe in case of stair accidents or slips happen in these building areas.

Photo showing Upside Innovations Team Working in Warehouse

Area of Refuge vs. Area of Rescue Requirements

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


Area of Refuge vs. Area of Rescue

The main distinction between the two is: an Area of Refuge is an interior a safe waiting space for people during an emergency evacuation while Area of Rescue is exterior. 


The information in this guide references the International Building Code 1009.6 and International Building Code 1009.7

Area of Refuge?

The International Building Code (IBC) defines it as “an area where persons unable to use stairways can remain temporarily to await instructions or assistance during an emergency evacuation.” For example, people in wheelchairs or elderly people would have difficulties going down the stairs, so they need an area where they can wait for help.

These waiting areas must be fire-resistant and protected from smoke, so people can safely wait for emergency responders. An Area of Refuge should be equipped with a form of communication, such as an intercom or a two-way communication device. This allows individuals to get in contact with emergency personnel to notify them that they are in the Area of Refuge and request assistance.

Area of Rescue?

An Area of Rescue is well-known as Exterior Areas for Assisted Rescue, it should be open to the outside air. The area must be no less than 50% open to minimize the accumulation of smoke or toxic gases. The exterior walls that separate the interior building from the Exterior Area of Assistance Rescue should have a minimum fire-resistance for 1 hour.

Stairways that are a means of egress for the Exterior Area of Assisted Rescue should provide a clear minimum width of 48 inches between the handrails. This minimum width is not required when protected by a sprinkler system.

What are the dimensions?

The Area of Refuge size determines how many wheelchair spaces your building requires. One wheelchair space is a minimum of 30″ x 48″. Each Exterior Area for Assisted Rescue should also be sized to accommodate wheelchair spaces of this size.

Area of refuge dimensions

Is my building required to have an Area of Refuge/Rescue?

The IBC requires that all new construction must comply with the most current regulations, which require an Area of Refuge. Existing buildings are not required to make alterations to comply with IBC. The only time new construction is not required to have refuge areas is if both of the following are true:

  1. The building has a supervised automated sprinkler system
  2. Has a wheelchair-friendly route (i.e. ADA ramp system) out and away from the building.

Single-story buildings that are level with grade do not have to have refuge areas because everybody can exit the building on their own.

An Exterior Area of Assisted Rescue on an exterior landing should be provided when the exit discharge does not include an accessible route from the level of exit discharge to a public way.

How many areas do I need?

First, for any building that is above grade or has multiple floors, you will need to determine how many means of egress paths you need.

The required number of means of egress paths are determined by the occupant load:

Occupant LoadRequired Means of Egress
<5002
500-9993
>1,0004

The only exception to this rule applies when a business has 30 occupants or less AND the distance to an exit is no more than 75 feet.

According to the code, you will need at least two of the means of egress to be accessible from any area that can be accessed by somebody in a wheelchair.

An accessible means of egress means it is a way for somebody in a wheelchair to get outside or wait safely for help. It can consist of an elevator, platform lift, ramp, interior area of refuge, or exterior area of rescue.

In order to be considered “accessible”, a stairway between stories will need to incorporate an Area of Refuge unless there is an automatic sprinkler system.

How many wheelchair spaces do I need?

IBC requires that you have one 30″ x 48″ wheelchair space for every 200 occupants that the means of egress serves. A wheelchair space cannot block access in or out of more than one adjacent wheelchair space.

wheelchair space requirements

Where are they required?

The following areas can be designated as an Area of Refuge:

  1. Stairwell – the stairwell must be enclosed.
  2. Elevator lobby – elevator in the lobby must be equipped with standby power.
  3. Horizontal exit – a horizontal exit can act as an Area of Refuge. A horizontal exit is a fire-resistant wall that separates an area into two areas. For example, if a fire started in Room A, a horizontal exit would have a fire-resistant wall that separated Room A from Room B. Room B serves as the Area of Refuge.
Area of Refuge Horizontal exit

If you are unable to have an accessible means of egress (i.e. ADA ramp) down to the ground, you must have an Area of Refuge or Rescue at either of the following locations EVEN IF the building has a sprinkler system:

  1. Interior side of an exit door – it must be enclosed by fire-resistant, interior wall.
  2. Exterior side of an exit door – the exterior wall adjacent to the Area of Rescue must be fire-resistant.

AREA OF RESCUE AREA OF REFUGE

These areas of egress are necessary to give all building occupants a safe route during an emergency. View the United States Access Board: Chapter 4 for more details on means of egress and Areas of Refuge and Rescue.

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Upside Earns Rank in Inc. 5000

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We are excited to announce that Upside Innovations made the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. – an accomplishment that we couldn’t have achieved without our customers and the effort put forth by our team. Thank you to everyone that has helped us reach this goal

!Thank you for your continued support!

How it works:

The companies that rank on the Inc. 5000 list are ranked according to percentage revenue growth over a three-year period. Companies that comprise the 2018 list are evaluated based on their 2014 and 2017 revenues. To qualify, the companies must have generated revenue by March 31, 2014 and be independent, privately held, for-profit companies as of December 31, 2017.

Upside’s growth:

In terms of revenue, Upside Innovations has grown a miraculous 206% over the three-year period when the average growth rate for the Inc. 5,000 list is 158%. We have also increased the number of employees from 18 in 2014 to 39 in 2017 which is a 117% employee growth rate.

Reference point: Average revenue growth for Ohio 135.4%

Reference point: Average employee growth for Ohio 113%

Like most companies, Upside Innovations had humble beginnings, but through many ups and downs, our team and business continues to grow. Read about Upside’s journey that began in 2009, and see just how much Upside has transformed.

Our Rankings:

#17 top Cincinnati company

#48 top manufacturing company in the U.S.

#2153 fastest growing business in the U.S.

View a composite list of the Inc. 5000.

ADA Ramp Material

Best ADA Ramp Material

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Choosing the best ADA wheelchair ramp material can be difficult, especially when trying to balance quality and price along with any other factors that may be important to you. Here is a breakdown of some of the ADA ramp material properties to consider, including weight, strength, corrosion resistance and cost of aluminum, iron, steel, wood and concrete.

Aluminum

The best-known properties of aluminum are its light weight yet high tensile strength, which gives it an ideal weight to strength ratio in construction applications. It is approximately one third the density of steel and much lighter than steel. Aluminum alloys commonly have tensile strength between 70 and 700 MPa, and the range for alloys used in extrusion is normally between 150 – 300 MPa. 

What is tensile strength? It is the maximum amount of tensile (tension) stress a material can endure before failure, such as breaking or permanent deformation. Tensile strength is commonly measured using MPa, which stands for megapascals. As a point of reference, the tensile strength for structural steel is 400MPa.

Aluminum is also corrosion resistant because when it reacts with oxygen in the air, a thin layer of oxide is formed. Anodizing aluminum will increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer which will further protect the material from corrosion, especially corrosion due to outdoor elements. This layer is self-repairing when damaged and provides better adhesion for paint primers and glues than other bare metals. Aluminum is extremely durable in neutral and slightly acidic environments, but corrosion occurs quickly in high acidic environments. High acidic environments can consist of sulfuric pools and geysers along with areas polluted by acid mine drainage.

Another bonus of aluminum is that it is the third most common element on Earth’s crust, and aluminum compounds occur naturally in our food. Thus, it has zero toxicity and is completely recyclable.

For everything considered, including its light weight, high tensile strength, corrosion resistance and recyclability, aluminum is very cost-effective ADA ramp material.

Metals-and-alloys-strength
Metals & Alloys: Strength to Cost
Metals-and-alloys-elasticity
Metals & Alloys: Elasticity to Cost

Iron & Steel

Iron is generally cheaper than aluminum because aluminum is more expensive to extract from its ore.

Iron is slightly stronger than aluminum in terms of tensile strength, but it is much more dense and heavy, making it more difficult to install in certain applications. Cast iron’s tensile strength is commonly between 60 and 800MPa while mild steel is around 300MPa. So what’s the difference between iron and steel? Iron is an element while steel is an alloy that is comprised of iron and carbon.

Different grades of steel exist, each with varying amounts of carbon in them. Carbon is incorporated into the iron during a smelting process which involves controlled heating and cooling of molten iron. A higher level of carbon in steel means that it will be harder, but it will also be more brittle. Whereas lower amounts of carbon allow steel to be softer but more malleable. In general, alloys are much stronger than pure metals, so steel is stronger than iron and consequently more expensive.

Iron is commonly used in construction applications and is usually covered with a strong protective coating or buried within other building materials. Why? Because iron alone is not weather-resistant. The surface of the material readily combines with the oxygen in the air in the presence of moisture, thus, creating rust. In completely dry air, however, iron does not rust. That said, consumers typically opt for a galvanized product. Galvanization is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to iron or steel to prevent rusting; the thicker the zinc coating, the longer it will resist corrosion. This process will increase the initial cost of the product, but will increase the life of the product.

The main concern with galvanization is that the zinc coating eventually develops a natural carbonate on its surface by exposure to the atmosphere and rainwater. The carbonate can become brittle and crusty and eventually split, exposing fresh zinc for corrosion. Since the zinc coating is thin, it can corrode up to the base metal exposing the base to the atmosphere and corrosion as well.

Wood

Wood is typically weaker than steel, iron and aluminum, yet it is not much cheaper on average. Pine and Oak are the strongest woods that would be used for structural applications with tensile strengths between 70 and 90MPa.

It is known that no matter what type of wood is used, it is always stronger when cut with the grain. 

So why is wood stronger when cut with the grain? Wood is a natural substance that is much stronger when the grain is continuous. Think about packing together a bunch of straws; each individual straw is weak, but they become quite strong when altogether. Wood works the same way with its strands of cellulose fibers – when fibers are continuous (packed together like straws) and cut with the grain they are stronger.

Wood is cheaper than the aforementioned ADA ramp material, but the lower cost comes with a maintenance price. Like iron and steel, wood must be treated to prevent corrosion. People typically use a sealer or varnish to prevent rotting and warping, but the sealer must be reapplied every year to maintain its appearance. However, even with treatment, wood does not have anywhere near the lifetime of aluminum; wood will expand in the heat and shrink in the winter even with finishes. Along with rotting and warping, wood can splinter, which can be hazardous if being used by the public.

wood-and-wood-products
Wood & Wood Products: Strength to Cost
Wood-and-wood-products-elasticity
Wood & Wood Products: Elasticity to Cost

Concrete

Concrete is weak in terms of tensile strength with a range of 2-5MPa. Recall tension and compression are not the same; tension forces materials apart whereas compression forces materials together. Concrete weight is typically measured in terms of compressive strength because most concrete applications don’t experience tension. The compressive strength, which is usually about 10x the tensile strength, of concrete is 20 to 40MPa, which is still much less than other materials. In addition, concrete has a very low thermal coefficient of expansion which means that it is highly vulnerable to cracking. Cracking happens more quickly in environments where the temperature is constantly rising and falling.

Another cause of corrosion can be the expansion of the reinforcement steel. If the steel is located too close to the surface of the concrete, it is exposed to air and spalling can occur. Spalling is a process where flat fragments of the concrete chip off from the mass by the structural steel.

Concrete is a relatively cheap ADA ramp material option, but there are many factors that can lead to quick corrosion.

Ceramics: Strength to Cost
Ceramics: Elasticity to Cost

*Young’s Modulus from the charts above can also be referred to as Elastic Modulus, which determines the elasticity of a certain material. Charts courtesy of the Department of Engineering from Cambridge University.

Summary

All of these are good ADA ramp materials, but each one functions best in different environments and applications. The optimal ADA ramp material for an outdoor location with fluctuating temperatures would be aluminum followed by steel. Wood is a cheaper option that can also be used outdoors but would require yearly maintenance due to the likelihood of corrosion and warping. If price is the most important factor and other properties don’t matter, concrete would suffice.

Pick the characteristics that are important to you as a buyer or user, and choose the associated material that fits your need.

To better understand what it means for a ramp to be ADA compliant, read our Beginner’s Guide to Complete ADA Compliance.

Our Services

Our team designs, manufactures, ships, and installs ADA & IBC-compliant stairs, ramps, and canopies to fit YOUR custom project. Our experts will work with you throughout the project to ensure your installation is correct to your specifications and code-compliant.

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