Protecting your Aluminum Stairs During Snowy Weather

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Upside Innovations understands the importance of maintaining safe, ice-free surfaces during the winter months. While our aluminum stairs and ramps (snow protection for ramps) provide slip resistance in dry and wet conditions, snowy and icy conditions can still pose safety hazards. In regions with harsh winters, facility managers must take steps to minimize safety issues caused by snow and ice build-up.

Here are three effective ways to ensure the safety of your stairs during snowy weather and some preventative measures.

A Stiff-Bristled Broom

When it comes to removing light snow accumulation from stairs, especially those with knurled decking for added grip, a stiff-bristled broom is a simple yet effective tool. The strong bristles of these brooms can easily clear snow from both the stair surface and the grooves in the decking that provide traction. However, when clearing the snow from the stairs, you’ll need to push it either up or down the stairs to a platform or the ground since the stair’s edges prevent snow from being swept off the sides. Once the snow is on a platform, it can be conveniently pushed off the edge or through the railings. It’s essential to apply enough pressure to get into the grooves of the stair surface but avoid scrubbing too vigorously to prevent scratching the aluminum, as scratches can lead to quicker oxidation.

Effective Snow and Ice Management for Aluminum Stairs

Heavy snow and ice may be more difficult for a broom to handle, this is when chemical snow/ice melt becomes a practical solution. However, it’s essential to note that common rock salt is not suitable for use on aluminum stairs, as it can react with the metal and cause damage over time. Instead, we recommend using magnesium chloride ice melt for most applications, thanks to its non-corrosive nature on aluminum. Calcium chloride can be a viable alternative for government entities or large businesses that may be seeking a cost-effective solution.

Additionally, the Melt Premium Enviro Blend Ice Melter is an excellent environmentally friendly product that can be effectively applied to snow and ice on aluminum stairs without causing damage to the metal or concrete surfaces.

Comparing Calcium Chloride vs. Magnesium Chloride

Decking Options on Upside Stairs

An alternative to dealing with snow build-up is purchasing stairs that have an open decking or stairs with open-back risers. Both of these options would allow for snow to pass through the stairs. This would create less snow and ice maintenance for the facility. Pictured below are Upside stair decking options and closed-back vs. open-back stairs. 

extruded stair decking
fiber grate stair decking
Fiber Grate
bar grating option for decking
Bar Grating
grip strut stair decking
Grip Strut

Install an Awning or Canopy Over Your Stairs

For those who want to avoid the hassle of shoveling snow and melting ice altogether, another option is adding a canopy over your stairs. Our canopy systems are designed to keep precipitation off the stairs, significantly reducing snow and ice build-up. They provide a practical and aesthetically pleasing way to enhance safety during snowy weather.

For canopies – we offer a cantilevered awning, entryway canopy, and covered walkway canopy.

Rendering of the pairing options for entryway canopies
Protect entryways from snow and rain with Upside’s APEX canopy, engineered to integrate seamlessly with our stair and ramp solutions. Integration offers an efficient and cost-effective solution for modular buildings and loading docks.

No matter which method you choose, removing snow and ice from your stairs is crucial to ensure safety during the winter months. Whether you use a removal technique, install a canopy, or use open decking – prioritize safety, and stay warm during the snowy season.

Handicap Ramp Slope and Length Calculator

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To make buildings more accessible for mobility devices, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has established minimum accessibility requirements for public facilities. In addition to various accessibility standards, they outline the guidelines for ramp construction. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at ADA requirements for handicap ramp slopes.

Our ADA ramp length calculator determines the required ramp length for your project. Our incline calculator also tells you the number of resting platforms that you need to have to be ADA-compliant. As a guide, the ADA ramp requirements are 1 foot of ramp for every inch of rise for a 4.8° incline.

Ramp Length Calculator

A. Elevation height
The height from the ground up to the bottom of the door or existing walkway. (How to measure elevation)

B. Ramp run length

C. Total ramp system length in feet
Includes the minimum number of 5′ x 5′ resting platforms and the 5′ x 5′ platform at the top of the ramp.

D. Minimum number of resting platforms
A 5′ x 5′ (minimum) resting platform is needed every 30 feet of ramp.

+ 5′ platforms
A 5′ x 5′ (minimum) platform is needed at the top of the ramp if there is not an existing one already.

1:12 Slope: For every inch of height from the ground, you need 1 foot of ramp length to achieve a 4.8° incline.

Handicap Ramp Slope and Length Calculator - Calculating ADA Ramp Length

Handicap Ramp length based on the number of stairs

StepsTotal LengthLanding(s)Ramp Run
1 Step12′5′7′
2 Steps20′5′15′
3 Steps27′5′22′
4 Steps35′5′30′
5 Steps47′10′ ( 2 x 5′)37′
*For reference only. Estimations based on a 7 1/2″ stair height (riser).
Building codes specify riser heights of no less than 4″ and a maximum of 7 3/4″.

How long of a wheelchair ramp do I need for 2 steps?

For ADA compliance, the estimated ramp length should be 20′ (5′ landing, 15′ ramp run)*

How long of a wheelchair ramp do I need for 3 steps?

For ADA compliance, the estimated ramp length should be 27′ (5′ landing, 22′ ramp run)*

How long of a wheelchair ramp do I need for 4 steps?

For ADA compliance, the estimated ramp length should be 35′ (5′ landing, 30′ ramp run)*

How long of a wheelchair ramp do I need for 5 steps?

For ADA compliance, the estimated ramp length should be 47′ (2 5′ landings, 37′ ramp run)*

Optimal Stair Angle: Balancing Safety, Comfort, and Space

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A critical aspect of stair design is the angle of the stair, which can significantly influence its functionality, safety, and user experience. This is especially applicable in commercial settings, where factors like accessibility and space efficiency are paramount.

The angle of a staircase, often measured in degrees from the horizontal, determines the steepness of the stairs. Common angles range from 30 to 50 degrees. However, a widely accepted standard for the most comfortable and safe stair angle is around 37 degrees.

37° is widely accepted as
the standard for safety and comfort

Why 37 Degrees?

  1. Ergonomic Efficiency: At 37 degrees, the ratio of the tread (the horizontal part where you step) to the riser (the vertical part between treads) is optimized for average human stride lengths. This angle ensures that the stairs are not too steep or too shallow, providing a natural and comfortable ascent and descent.
  2. Safety Considerations: Stairs steeper than 37 degrees can increase the risk of falls and are more challenging for people with mobility issues. On the other hand, stairs less steep than 37 degrees consume more horizontal space and may not be practical in all settings.
  3. Space Utilization: For commercial spaces where efficiency is key, a 37-degree angle offers a good balance between the vertical and horizontal space used. It allows for a comfortable rise without extending the staircase too far into the space.

Code Compliance

IBC – The International Building Code (IBC) typically requires stair slopes to not exceed a 7:11 ratio, approximately 37 degrees, with a maximum riser height of 7 inches and a minimum tread depth of 11 inches. These guidelines ensure safety by preventing stairs from being too steep and maintaining consistency in step dimensions.

ADA – Similar to IBC, the ADA requires stairs to have risers no higher than 7 inches and tread depths of at least 11 inches, ensuring a slope that typically aligns with IBC standards of around 30 to 37 degrees. Uniformity in riser heights and tread depths across all steps is crucial for safety and accessibility under ADA guidelines.

OSHAOSHA standards for fixed industrial stairs require an angle between 30 and 50 degrees to ensure safety in workplace environments. The maximum riser height is set at 9.5 inches, and the minimum tread depth should also be 9.5 inches. These guidelines are designed to prevent accidents and facilitate safe and efficient movement in industrial settings.


While the 37-degree angle is a general guideline, stair design can vary depending on each project’s specific needs and constraints. Upside Innovations, with its commitment to safety, efficiency, and sustainability, ensures that each staircase is optimally designed for its intended use, keeping in mind the comfort and safety of its users.

Building Blocks: Prefab versus Modular Construction

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When it comes to building a new structure, two popular options are prefab and modular construction. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to two distinct construction methods.

What is the difference between Modular vs. Prefab Buildings?

Prefab construction is walls, roofs, and floors manufactured off-site. In contrast, modular construction is complete rooms or self-contained units. Both are shipped and assembled on location.

Prefab Construction

Prefab Construction

Components Made Off-Site

Prefab, or prefabricated construction, involves manufacturing components off-site. These components include roofs, floors, and walls. These components are shipped to the location and are designed to fit together like puzzle pieces. Before prefab construction, building contractors would “stick-build,” where everything was framed and built onsite, which was costly and slow.

Modular Construction

Modular Construction

Completed Sections Made Off-Site

In modular construction, the building components are complete rooms or sections manufactured in a factory and then transported as large units to the building site for assembly. Unlike prefab, these large modules require less onsite assembly and construction, which is cost-effective and need less on-site construction time, especially for larger buildings.

Advantages of Modular Construction

With its increased popularity, efficiencies, and ease of build, modular construction is gaining market acceptance and gaining traction for commercial, industrial, and institutional projects. The modular market was valued at $131.1 billion in 2021, and analysts estimated a CAGR of 6.1% from 2022 to 2031 with a $234.7 billion value.1

Modular construction can be for permanent and temporary uses and is commonly used for school classrooms and military housing but gaining popularity as healthcare facilities, churches, fast food restaurants, and commercial offices.

Modular building has several benefits, such as being environmentally friendly, creating less waste, being of higher quality, and being accessible to remote locations.

  • Saves Money – Unlike traditional building methods, modular buildings are less expensive because the units are produced in bulk and delivered nearly completed.
  • Less maintenance
  • More sustainable – Reduced material waste and energy consumption.
  • Save Time – avoid common construction delays caused by weather or schedules and, in many cases, can be delivered 30-50% quicker2 than traditional methods. Site preparation occurs simultaneously with the production of modular units. However, some drawbacks can be a limited service area and unclear zoning.
  • Less impact at the job site – built off-site, modular construction has 80% less disruption at the job site.
  • Quality control – The manufacturing process offers greater quality control than on-site, stick-built construction methods.

1Allied Market Research, 2Modular Building Institute

Stairs and Ramps for Modular Construction

Upside Innovations manufactures access solutions ideal for modular buildings such as schools, hospitals, churches, office trailers, construction sites, etc.

Our modular, prefabricated line of ADA and IBC stairs, ramps, and canopies are industrial-grade aluminum components that bolt together to create infinite configurations, eliminating custom fabrication and time-consuming engineering while reducing costs, installation time, and complexity.

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APEX System

Stairs, Ramps,
Canopies & Awnings

APEX stair ramp system components

The APEX System is a modular, prefabricated line of ADA, OSHA, and IBC-compliant stairs, wheelchair ramps, and canopies. Industrial-grade aluminum components bolt together to create infinite configurations. The System eliminates custom fabrication requirements and time-consuming engineering while reducing costs, installation time, and complexity. The Apex System is manufactured in the U.S. using advanced engineering techniques and industrial-grade aluminum.

modular building step

Portable Stairs

OMNI Portable step graphics

The Omni Step, Upside’s portable stairs, has a pivoting riser assembly to adjust the step to any height within the two outer limits as the individual step heights grow or shrink equally. Set the adjustable platform at the threshold, attach the step riser to the platform, and let the step pivot down to the ground.

Tenant Improvements

Transform Your Commercial Space with Tenant Improvements

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How Tenant Improvements Can Help You Create the Best Commercial Space for Your Business. From Construction to Stairs, Here’s What You Need to Know!

Tenant Improvements

When your business expands and evolves, it is crucial to accentuate your brand, feel distinct, and satisfy your company’s demands. Tenant improvements can help you accomplish these objectives for a modest repair or a more extensive business renovation.

What are Tenant Improvements?

Tenant improvements are modifications to a rented space to make a building suitable to the tenant’s needs. These can include:

  • Creating an office out of unfinished floor space
  • Installing energy-efficient lighting
  • Building a dramatic staircase between floors
  • Adding new electrical outlets
  • Adding canopies and wheelchair ramps for accessibility
  • Complete interior renovation
  • Replacing rusted, damaged, cracked, and or non-compliant egress stairs 

What Qualifies as a Tenant Improvement?

There are many different types of tenant improvements. Below are some general examples of what is and is not considered a tenant improvement.

Constructing interior walls and ceilings
Changing the flooring
Building cabinetry
Adding electrical lines and plumbing
Installing air conditioning
Adding fire protection measures
Improving security, safety, and accessibility
Code Compliance Issues
Office chairs & furniture
Repaving outdoor walkway
Running phone and internet cables
Upgrades to a common-use elevator
Legal fees or consultants
Moving expenses
*Non-Qualified – Unless negotiated otherwise
Warehouse dock canopy

Stairs, ramps, and canopies engineered for tenant improvements.

With our expert team, we specialize in designing and installing custom solutions that not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your building but also ensure compliance and safety.

Who Pays for Tenant Improvements?

In most cases, the costs of tenant improvements are shared between the landlord and the tenant. There are several typical setups for paying for tenant improvements, including:

  • Tenant Improvement Allowance (TIA)
  • Building Standard Allowance (BSA)
  • Turnkey job
  • Rent discounts
Tenant Improvement Allowance (TIA)

The tenant improvement allowance is the money the landlord will spend on renovations to the leased property. The lease often states this cost and likely a set payment or a price per square foot. If the cost of the improvements exceeds the TIA, the tenant must pay the difference.

Getting at least one or two preliminary construction bids is advisable to avoid unexpected expenses during the negotiation process. For example, accepting an allowance of $18 per square foot may seem like a good deal, but ensuring that the total construction cost does not exceed the allowance is essential.

What is an Average Tenant Improvement Allowance?

The market, lease term, credit rating, and the type of space effects TIA, but landlords typically offer an allowance of $25-$40 per square foot for a new space (aka shell condition or first-gen) and $20 or less for a space that has been previously occupied (second-gen).

Higher-end markets have tenant improvement packages. For example, the NYC market is around $48 RSF* and $60-80 RSF for the Los Angeles market**.

How Do You Calculate a TI Allowance?

The Tenant Improvement Allowance (TIA) is typically given based on the commercial space’s rental square feet (RSF). To calculate the Tenant improvement allowance, multiply the RSF by the TI allowance you have negotiated. (Example: 5,000 RSF x $15 RSF = $75,000)

Sources: | * | **
Tools: Tenant Improvement Amortization Calculator

Building Standard Allowance (BSA)

With a building standard allowance (BSA) a specified leasehold improvements they are willing to pay their tenants. With a BSA, the landlord is responsible for any cost overruns rather than the tenant. If your business requires tenant services not included in the BSA, you must pay for them yourself.

Many landlords offer a building standard allowance (BSA) or a package of specified leasehold improvements they are willing to pay their tenants. With a BSA, the landlord is responsible for any cost overruns rather than the tenant. If your business requires tenant services not included in the BSA, you must pay for them yourself.

Turnkey Job

Building standard allowance (BSA) is a package of specific leasehold improvements landlords often provide tenants. This offering covers the cost of these improvements, and the landlord, not the tenant, bears any cost overruns. However, the tenant is responsible for paying services not part of the BSA.

Rent Discounts

Occasionally, landlords may offer a rent discount or waive rent entirely for tenants during leasehold improvement projects. However, the tenant remains responsible for any additional costs associated with the project and has full control over its execution.


Whether you require improvements like stairs, wheelchair ramps, canopies, or other types of tenant services, tenant improvements can help you create the best commercial space for your business. Upside’s skilled technicians, engineers and access experts can provide years of experience to help your business meet its lease improvement needs.

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Stair and Walk Surface Glossary of Terms

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Definitions of terms used in OSHA Standards – 29 CFR 1910 Subpart D

Open riser

An open riser refers to the vertical space between each step not enclosed by a solid material. OSHA code for open risers is at least 6 inches in height and a maximum distance of 7.5 inches.


A handrail is a single bar or pipe supported on brackets from a wall or partition, as on a stairway or ramp, to furnish persons with a handhold in case of tripping. To prevent injuries such as cuts or tears to workers and to reduce the risk of clothing getting caught or entangled, handrails and stair rail systems are designed to have a smooth surface.

Floor hole

The floor hole: an opening needed for materials and equipment that creates a fall hazard for workers. but not for people to fall through. It’s less than 12 inches but more than 1 inch in its least dimension.

Floor opening

Floor opening is considered an opening measuring 12 inches or more in its least dimension in any floor, platform, pavement, or yard through which persons may fall, such as a hatchway, stair or ladder opening, pit, or large manhole. Floor openings occupied by elevators, dumb waiters, conveyors, machinery, or containers are excluded from this subpart.


Platforms are ideal for both industrial and commercial applications. A platform can provide a safe and sturdy area for workers to operate machinery in an industrial setting. In a commercial environment, platforms can be used as display areas, stage areas, or spaces for guests to stand and mingle.


Our selection of quality runway systems are ideal for any indoor or outdoor setting and are perfect for both commercial and residential applications. Our runways are made from durable materials that can withstand heavy foot traffic and are available in a variety of sizes and styles to suit your specific needs. Whether you’re looking for a sleek and modern walkway to connect two buildings, or a sturdy and stylish solution for awkward footing situations, we’ve got you covered.

Standard railing

Standard railings are a necessary safety measure to prevent falls at exposed edges of floor openings, walls, ramps, platforms, and runways. They are an essential part of any safety plan and should be installed where needed to protect workers, guests, and others. In addition to their safety function, standard railings can also enhance the look of a space and add to its overall design. Whether you need them for safety or aesthetic purposes, standard railings are a smart investment for any business or home.

Standard strength and construction

When it comes to safety and durability, you can’t go wrong with standard strength and construction. This construction method meets the requirements of the OSHA 1910.23 safety standards, so you can rest assured that your railings, covers, or other guards are up to code. Not only that, but this construction is incredibly strong and built to last, ensuring years of safe usage. Whether you’re looking for peace of mind or a long-lasting investment, standard strength and construction are the way to go.

Stair railing

A stair railing is a vertical barrier erected along the exposed sides of a stairway to prevent falls. It is an important safety feature in any home or business, and our stair railings are designed to provide maximum protection against accidental falls. When OSHA inspectors come around, stair railing height is an important consideration. No handrail should ever be too tall or short; it must be just right to ensure the safety of workers and anyone else moving around the area. To comply with handrail height regulations, look no further than OSHA’s guidelines when installing a handrail for your facility – with railings installed to the required height, people can walk up and down stairs without worry.  Our railings are made from high-quality materials and are available in various styles to suit your specific needs. We also offer custom-made railings to ensure a perfect fit for your staircase.


Toeboards are an essential safety measure for any business or property that has exposed edges at the floor level of a floor opening, wall opening, platform, runway or ramp. By erecting a toeboard around these edges, you can help prevent falls of materials and protect people from injury. At the same time, toeboards also provide a visual barrier that can help increase safety awareness in your workplace or home.

Wall hole

Wall holes provide an efficient way to ventilate a room or to allow drainage in the event of a leak. They are commonly found in homes and commercial buildings and are an essential part of any plumbing system. Wall holes come in a variety of sizes and can be customized to fit your specific needs.

Wall opening

When it comes to wall openings, safety is paramount. That’s why our wall openings are designed to be at least 30 inches high and 18 inches wide to help prevent accidental falls. We’ve got you covered whether you’re looking for a simple doorway or a more complex chute opening. Our team of experts can help you find the perfect solution for your needs, so you can rest assured that your space is safe and compliant with all applicable codes and regulations.

Definitions of terms used in OSHA Standards – 1910.24 Subpart D


A handrail is a single bar or pipe that is supported on brackets from a wall or partition and provides a continuous handhold for persons using a stair. It is an essential safety feature for any staircase, and our handrails are made from the highest quality materials to ensure durability and longevity.

Nose, nosing

The nose, or nosing, is the portion of a tread that projects beyond the face of the riser immediately below. This important feature helps to ensure traction and prevent slips, making it an essential part of any staircase.


A platform is an extended step or landing that breaks a continuous run of stairs. It can be used to provide extra stability when climbing or descending stairs.


When it comes to preventing falls and providing a safe environment, railings are an essential piece of equipment. Our railing is made from durable materials that can withstand high-traffic areas and provides a vertical barrier to help prevent falls. The top member of our railing also serves as a handrail, making it easy and safe to grip.


Rise is the vertical distance from the top of a tread to the top of the next higher tread and gives you exactly what you need in terms of functionality.


The riser is the upright member of a step that provides support and stability. It is usually located at the back of a lower tread and near the leading edge of the next higher tread. This product is essential for any staircase, providing both function and safety.

Stairs, stairway

Stairs and stairways are an essential part of many buildings and structures. They provide a means of moving between different levels or floors, and can also be used to access pits, platforms, crossovers, boiler rooms, or around machinery and equipment. A series of stairs and landings with three or more risers are considered a staircase.


Tread is the horizontal member of a step that makes direct contact with the foot. It is an important safety feature in any staircase, and its primary purpose is to provide a safe and stable surface for walking.

Tread run

The tread run is a horizontal distance from the leading edge of a tread to the leading edge of an adjacent tread.

Tread width

Tread width is an important measurement to take into account. This is the horizontal distance from front to back of the tread, including the nosing. Choosing a flooring option with the right tread width is important for your needs, as this can impact safety.

Definitions of terms used in OSHA Standards – 1910.25 Subpart D


Ladders are appliances usually consisting of two side rails joined at regular intervals by crosspieces called steps, rungs, or cleats. Ladders provide a way for people to ascend or descend in a manner that is often safer and more efficient than using their bare hands or feet.


Stepladders are self-supporting and portable, making them perfect for a variety of tasks. With flat steps and a hinged back, they are easy to use and offer a safe and sturdy platform. The non-slip steps and hinged back provide added safety and stability.

Single ladder

The single ladder and its non-self-supporting design and nonadjustable length make it perfect for a variety of tasks around the home or office. Plus, its compact size makes it easy to store away when not in use.

Extension ladder

The Extension Ladder is made from high-quality materials that ensure it can withstand even the most demanding applications. It features two or more sections that can be adjusted to the desired length, making it perfect for any job. Plus, the non-self-supporting design makes it easy to transport and set up.

Sectional ladder

A sectional ladder is a great choice for anyone who needs a portable ladder that can be adjusted to different lengths. This type of ladder is made up of two or more sections, which can be combined to create a single, extended ladder. Sectional ladders are perfect for both indoor and outdoor use.

Trestle ladder

Trestle ladders are self-supporting and non-adjustable in length, consisting of two sections hinged at the top to form equal angles with the base. The size is designated by the length of the side rails measured along the front edge. Trestle Ladders are easy to transport and perfect for a variety of applications.

Extension trestle ladder

The extension trestle ladder is self-supporting and can be adjusted to the desired length, making it perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. The single ladder can be easily locked into place, ensuring a sturdy and safe climbing experience. With a variety of sizes available, you’re sure to find the perfect extension trestle ladder for your needs.

Special-purpose ladder

Special-purpose ladder: This is a portable ladder that represents either a modification or a combination of design or construction features in one of the general-purpose types of ladders previously defined, in order to adapt the ladder to special or specific uses.

Trolley ladder

Our trolley ladder is made of high-quality materials and is built to last. It’s also very easy to use – simply attach it to an overhead track, and you’re good to go! Plus, its compact design means it won’t take up too much space in your home or workplace.

Side-rolling ladder

This side-rolling ladder is perfect for use in tight spaces. The nonadjustable length makes it easy to use, and the attachments to the guide rail keep it stable while you work. With its semifixed design, this ladder is a great choice for anyone looking for an easy-to-use option that doesn’t require any adjustment.

Wood characteristics

Wood is a natural material with many distinguishing features. By their extent and number, wood characteristics determine the quality of a piece of wood.

Wood irregularities

Wood irregularities are natural characteristics in or on wood that may lower its durability, strength or utility. While these features do not affect the structural integrity of the wood, they may cause some cosmetic issues.

Cross grain

Cross grain is a deviation of the fiber direction from a line parallel to the sides of the piece. This occurs when the growth of the tree is not perfectly symmetrical, leading to a slope of grain.


Knots are classified according to size, quality, and occurrence. The size of the knot is determined as the average diameter on the surface of the piece. Lumber-graded knotty has a higher percentage of knots than lumber graded clear. Knots are caused by imperfections in the growth of the tree and are removed during manufacturing.

Pitch and bark pockets

Pitch and bark pockets are openings that extend parallel to the annual growth rings in a tree. They can contain either solid or liquid pitch, or bark. Having either of these features in your tree can be helpful for identifying it and determining its age.


A shake is a separation of the wood fibers along the grain. It most often occurs between the growth rings of annual growth.


This check is a lengthwise separation of the wood, most of which occurs across the rings of annual growth. It is an eco-friendly product that is made from sustainable materials.


Wane is bark, or the lack of wood from any cause, on the corner of a piece, which gives it a rustic and natural look.


Decay is a process of disintegration of wood substance due to the action of wood-destroying fungi. It is also known as dote and rot.

Compression failure

Compression failure is a deformation of the fibers that occurs when there is excessive compression along the grain.

Compression wood

Compression wood is a highly variable type of wood that can be found in softwood species. It is characterized by high density, high longitudinal shrinkage, and lower stiffness and tensile strength compared to normal wood.

Low density

Low density wood is a type of wood that is exceptionally light in weight and usually deficient in strength properties for the species.

Definitions of terms used in OSHA Standards – 1910.26 Subpart D


A ladder is an appliance that helps you reach high places. It usually consists of two side rails joined at regular intervals by cross-pieces called steps, rungs, or cleats. This allows a person to ascend or descend safely and easily.

Step ladder

This step ladder is a self-supporting, portable ladder that is nonadjustable in length. It has flat steps and a hinged back. The size of the step ladder is designated by the overall length of the ladder measured along the front edge of the side rails.

Single ladder

This step ladder is perfect for any job that requires a little extra height. With a sturdy build and flat steps, this ladder is safe and easy to use. Thanks to its hinged back, the ladder folds up easily for storage or transport.

Extension ladder

Our extension ladder is made of high-quality materials and is adjustable in length, so you can tailor it to your needs. It’s also equipped with guide brackets and non-slip feet for maximum safety.

Platform ladder

The platform ladder is perfect for a variety of applications. It can be used as an extension ladder, as a stairway ladder, or as a platform ladder. The platform provides a safe and stable work surface, making it perfect for accessing high areas.

Sectional ladder

This ladder is made up of multiple sections, so it can be shortened or lengthened to fit the needs of the job. It is also non-self-supporting, meaning that it does not stand on its own and must be leaned against a wall or other surface for support.

Trestle ladder

The Trestle Ladder is a self-supporting, portable ladder that is non-adjustable in length. It is made up of two sections that are hinged at the top to form equal angles with the base. This ladder size is designated by the length of the side rails measured along the front edge.

Extension trestle ladder

This extension trestle ladder is perfect for any professional who needs a reliable and adjustable ladder. The trestle base provides stability, while the single ladder can be adjusted to the desired length. The locking mechanism ensures that the ladders stay together, providing a safe and sturdy working platform.

Special-purpose ladder

This special-purpose ladder is perfect for any job that needs a little extra height. With its combination of design and construction features, it can be adapted to fit any need you may have. It`s also portable, so you can take it with you wherever you go.

Definitions used in 1910.27


A ladder is an appliance that helps you reach high places. It usually consists of two side rails joined at regular intervals by cross-pieces called steps, rungs, or cleats. This allows a person to ascend or descend safely and easily.

Fixed ladder

Fixed ladders are a great solution for businesses that need a safe, reliable way to access high areas. They are permanently attached to the structure and provide a stable platform for climbing. This makes them ideal for factories, warehouses, and other industrial settings.

Individual-rung ladder

An individual-rung ladder is a great choice for accessing difficult or dangerous areas to reach with a traditional extension ladder. Each rung is attached to the structure independently, so the ladder can be adjusted to fit any height or angle. This also makes it easier to move and store than a traditional ladder.

Rail ladder

A rail ladder, also known as a fixed ladder, consists of side rails joined at regular intervals by rungs or cleats. This type of ladder is fastened in full length or in sections to a building, structure, or equipment. It provides a safe and easy way to ascend and descend from elevated surfaces.


Railings provide a barrier between an individual and a hazardous drop-off, preventing falls and potential injuries. Our railings are constructed in accordance with OSHA 1910.23 standards to ensure safety and compliance. We offer a variety of railing options, including standard vertical railings, horizontal railings, and custom designs to meet your specific needs.


Pitch is the angle between the horizontal and the ladder, measured on the opposite side of the ladder from the climbing side. This measurement is important for ensuring safe ladder use, as it helps you determine how far away from the wall your ladder should be when set up.


Fastenings are an essential part of ladder safety. They provide a secure connection between the ladder and the structure, making it less likely that the ladder will slip or fall.


Rungs are an essential safety item for ladder users. They provide a flat, stable surface on which to place your feet, making it easier and safer to climb the ladder. Rungs are available in both circular and oval cross-sections, so you can choose the shape that best suits your needs.


Cleats are perfect for safely ascending or descending ladders. They have a rectangular cross-section and are placed on the edge so that you can step in them easily.


Steps are an essential part of any ladder and provide a stable surface on which to step when ascending or descending.


Cage is a guard that fastens to the side rails of the fixed ladder or to the structure to encircle the climbing space of the ladder, providing safety for the person who must climb.


A well is a permanent enclosure that surrounds the ladder and provides the same level of protection as a cage.

Ladder safety device

A ladder safety device is a device that helps prevent falls while using a ladder. It may incorporate features such as life belts, friction brakes, and sliding attachments. This allows the user to feel safe and secure while reaching higher areas.

Grab bars

Grab bars provide a safe and sturdy handhold when accessing an area beyond the ladder. They are individual handholds, typically placed adjacent to or as an extension above ladders. This allows for safe access to areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Through ladder

A through ladder is a type of ladder that allows a person getting off the top to step through the ladder and reach the landing without having to jump.

Side-step ladder

The side-step ladder is a ladder that has been designed with a side-step feature, which allows the user to step sideways off the ladder in order to reach the landing

Definitions of terms used in OSHA Standards – 1910.28 Subpart D


Bearer is a horizontal scaffold member that provides support for the platform and may be supported by ledgers.

Boatswain’s chair

The boatswain’s chair, also known as a bosun’s chair, is a seat supported by slings attached to a suspended rope. It is designed to accommodate one workman in a sitting position and provides him with a safe and comfortable place to work.


A brace tie is the perfect solution for scaffolders who need to keep their members in a fixed position with respect to each other.

Bricklayers’ square scaffold

The Bricklayers’ square scaffold is perfect for light and medium duty tasks. It is a scaffold composed of framed wood squares which create a stable platform.

Carpenters’ bracket scaffold

This Carpenters’ bracket scaffold are made of sturdy wood or metal brackets. The platform is supported by them, making it a safe and secure option.


Coupler is a device used to connect the component parts of a tubular metal scaffold. It is made from a sturdy material, such as drop-forged steel, malleable iron, or structural grade aluminum, to ensure a safe and secure connection. The use of gray cast iron is prohibited.

Crawling board or chicken ladder

The crawling board or chicken ladder is a plank with cleats spaced and secured at equal intervals, designed to provide a safe surface for workers on roofs. It is not designed to carry any material.

Double pole or independent pole scaffold

A double pole scaffold is a type of scaffold supported from the base by a double row of uprights, independent of support from the walls. This scaffold is constructed of uprights, ledgers, horizontal platform bearers, and diagonal bracing.

Float or ship scaffold

The float or ship scaffold is a type of scaffold that is hung from overhead supports by means of ropes. This scaffold consists of a substantial platform that has diagonal bracing underneath, resting upon and securely fastened to two parallel plank bearers at right angles to the span.


Guardrail is a rail system that is secured to uprights and erected along the exposed sides and ends of platforms. This product helps protect employees and customers from potential accidents or injuries.

Heavy duty scaffold

This heavy duty scaffold is designed and constructed to carry a working load not to exceed 75 pounds per square foot. It is perfect for use in a variety of constructions.

Horse scaffold

The horse scaffold is a scaffold designed for light or medium duty. It is composed of horses that support a work platform.

Interior hung scaffold

The interior hung scaffold is a suspension scaffold that hangs from the ceiling or roof structure.

Ladder jack scaffold

The ladder jack scaffold is a light duty scaffold that is supported by brackets attached to ladders.

Light duty scaffold

A light duty scaffold is a scaffold that is designed to carry a working load of no more than 25 pounds per square foot.

Manually propelled mobile scaffold

The scaffold is made of durable steel and supported by four casters, making it easy to move around. It’s perfect for reaching high places.

Masons’ adjustable multiple-point suspension scaffold

The Mason’s adjustable multiple-point suspension scaffold is a type of scaffold that has a platform supported by bearers. These bearers are suspended by wire rope from overhead supports, allowing the platform to be raised or lowered as needed.

Maximum intended load

The maximum intended load is the total of all loads, including the working load and the weight of the scaffold. Other loads may be anticipated, but should not exceed the maximum intended load.

Medium duty scaffold

A medium duty scaffold is a scaffold designed to carry a working load of up to 50 pounds per square foot.


Mid-rail is a rail that is placed approximately midway between the guardrail and platform. It is used when required and secured to uprights that are erected along the exposed sides and ends of platforms.

Needle beam scaffold

A needle beam scaffold is a light duty scaffold that consists needle beams supporting a platform.

Outrigger scaffolds

Outrigger scaffolds are supported by outriggers or thrust-outs projecting beyond the wall or face of the building or structure. The inboard ends of outrigger scaffolds are secured inside of such a building or structure.


Putlogs are scaffold members that the platform rests upon.

Roofing bracket

A roofing bracket is a bracket used in sloped roof construction, which has provisions for being fastened to the roof. It can also be supported by ropes that are fastened over the ridge and secured to some suitable object.


Runner is a lengthwise horizontal bracing or bearing members or both that helps to stabilize the structure.


Scaffolds are temporary elevated platforms used to support workmen or materials.

Single-point adjustable suspension scaffold

This single-point adjustable suspension scaffold is perfect for light-duty use. It’s manually or power-operated, and supported by a single wire rope from an overhead support. This allows you to raise or lower the platform to your desired working position quickly and easily.

Single pole scaffold

A single pole scaffold is a platform that rests on putlogs or crossbeams. The outside ends of the platform are supported by ledgers, and the inner ends are supported by a wall.

Stone setters’ adjustable multiple-point suspension scaffold

The stone setters’ adjustable multiple-point suspension scaffold is a swinging-type scaffold with a platform supported by hangers suspended at four points. The platform can be raised or lowered to the desired working position by using hoisting machines.


Toeboards are barriers secured along a platform’s sides and ends. They help to prevent materials from falling off of the platform.

Tube and coupler scaffold

Tube and coupler scaffold is an assembly consisting of tubing which serves as posts, bearers, braces, ties, and runners. The base supports the posts while special couplers serve to connect the uprights and join various members.

Tubular welded frame scaffold

Tubular welded frame scaffold is a sectional, panel, or frame metal scaffold that is substantially built up of prefabricated welded sections. These sections consist posts and horizontal bearers with intermediate members. Panels or frames are braced with diagonal or cross braces.

Two-point suspension scaffold (swinging scaffold)

A two-point suspension scaffold is a type of scaffolding that has a platform supported by hangers at two points. The platform can be raised or lowered to the desired working position by using a tackle or hoisting machine.

Window jack scaffold

A window jack scaffold is a scaffold with a platform that’s supported by a bracket or jack. The bracket or jack projects through a window opening.

Working load

The working load is the load imposed by men, materials, and equipment.

Definitions of terms used in OSHA Standards – 1910.29 Subpart D


Bearers are horizontal members of a scaffold that the platform rests on. They can be supported by ledgers.


The brace is a tie that is used to hold one scaffold member in a fixed position with respect to another member.

Climbing ladder

A climbing ladder is a separate ladder with equally spaced rungs attached to the scaffold structure, used for climbing and descending.


A coupler is a device used to lock together the components of a tubular metal scaffold. The coupler must be designed and used to safely support the maximum intended loads.

Design working load

The design working load is the maximum intended load, which includes the weight of men, materials, equipment, and platform.


Equivalent is the alternative design or features that can provide equivalent levels of safety, giving users the same assurance and confidence in their experience.


Guardrail is a barrier designed to prevent falls from platforms. Guardrail is secured to uprights and erected along the exposed sides and ends of platforms.


Handrails provide an important safety measure for ladder stands, allowing users to ascend and descend with added security. These sturdy fixtures parallel the slope or top step of a ladder structure, giving extra stability as you climb up towards your destination.

Ladder stand

A ladder stand is a mobile, self-supporting ladder that is fixed in size. It consists of a wide flat tread ladder in the form of stairs, and may include handrails.

Ledger (stringer)

The ledger is a horizontal scaffold member that extends from post to post and supports the bearer. It forms a tie between the posts.

Mobile scaffold (tower)

Mobile scaffolds (tower) are scaffolds that are mounted on casters or wheels. They can be light, medium, or heavy duty.


“Manually propelled.”

Mobile work platform

A mobile work platform is a frame on wheels or casters, usually one level high, with diagonal bracing from the platform to the vertical frame.


A runner is a horizontal bracing or bearing member.


Scaffolds are temporary elevated platforms used to support workmen and materials. Scaffolds must have vertical, diagonal, and horizontal members to be stable.


Toeboard is a barrier erected along the exposed sides and ends of a scaffold platform to prevent falls of materials.

Tube and coupler scaffold

Tube and coupler scaffold is an assembly consisting of tubing which serves as posts, bearers, braces, ties, and runners. It has a base supporting the posts and uprights. The assembly is used in fixed locations.

Tubular welded frame scaffold:

Tubular welded frame scaffold is a sectional, panel, or frame metal scaffold that is substantially built up of prefabricated welded sections. These sections consist of posts and bearers with intermediate connecting members. The scaffold is braced with diagonal or cross braces.

Tubular welded sectional folding scaffold

Tubular welded sectional folding scaffold is a sectional, folding metal scaffold either of ladder frame or inside stairway design. It is substantially built of prefabricated welded sections, which consist of end frames, platform frames, inside inclined stairway frames, and braces. The scaffold can be folded into a flat package when the scaffold is not in use.

Work level

The work level is an elevated platform that provides a safe and stable surface for workers and their materials. The platform is made up of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal braces to provide maximum support, as well as guardrails and a ladder for easy access. With a work level, workers can complete tasks with ease and safety.

Long crossover walkway and stairs

How a Catwalk Can Improve Workflow in Your Facility

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In a factory setting, the equipment can be difficult to access, leading to dangerous and/or uncomfortable working conditions. Catwalks can be a necessary solution to this problem and OSHA compliance.

What is a catwalk

A catwalk, sometimes called a runway, is an elevated platform or walkway used for observation or to give workers access to hard-to-reach areas within a facility to service equipment, tanks, hoppers, silos, sortation systems, and industrial processing equipment.

Upside Innovations is a stair manufacturer, and this article covers some applications and summarizes OSHA compliance requirements.

Common Catwalk Applications

  • HVAC & generator maintenance platforms
  • Accessing and clearing conveyor belts and sortation systems
  • An observation platform overseeing work areas
  • Rooftops – Air handlers, HVAC equipment, and generators
  • To crossover assembly lines and conveyor belts
  • Tank farm access

Upside Innovation’s Catwalks

Upside manufacturers prefabricated, easy-to-assemble OSHA complaint catwalk platforms.

Upside’s catwalk platform doesn’t just elevate people–it saves money and time. The industrial-grade aluminum components can be bolted together in an endless amount of configurations, making it ready to install upon arrival. With our APEX catwalk system, you’ll reduce costs while also saving time that would otherwise be spent welding the walkway together. If pre-assembled catwalks are not possible for your application, don’t worry! Our team of engineers and designers can customize a solution for any need.

At Upside, we believe that every business is unique and thus requires a different catwalk solution. That’s why we take the time to listen to your specific needs and requirements before craftily designing a plan specifically for you. Our team of experts creates structural drawings of where your catwalk has to be installed, making sure to include all details regarding positioning, elevation, etc., in alignment with your stated business goals. This level of planning and customization helps ensure that you get exactly the right catwalk for YOUR business.

Furthermore, we evaluate how much weight your catwalk can hold. The construction of your catwalk is entirely dependent on its planned use. Therefore, we need to know the load-bearing capacity requirements to design and build a safe walkway for your employees.

Our aluminum catwalks are easy to install in difficult-to-reach spaces and follow OSHA standards so that your workers can safely access elevated areas.

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Steps and APEX Trailer Catwalk at Industrial Facility
These Steps and long APEX Trailer Catwalk Platform were installed at an Industrial Facility.

OSHA catwalk requirements

OSHA compliance stairs platforms

OSHA establishes rules and regulations to follow for equipment operators and maintenance personnel who work on catwalks, which include the minimum width dimensions, minimum load requirements, fall protection requirements, and catwalk opening requirements. Understanding these standards can help create a safe working environment.

The safety requirements for catwalks, or elevated walkways, are located in Section 1910 Subpart D of the OSHA standards. A catwalk is an elevated surface used as a pathway between buildings or along shafting. It’s also considered a type of work platform. employers need to make sure that catwalks are constantly kept safe and up to code.

OSHA Section 1910.22 dictates the primary conditions for walking-working surfaces, encompassing catwalks. To be compliant, employers must guarantee that all walking surfaces are safe from slip and fall hazards, as well as being structurally stable and sound. With that in mind, here are some key standards for workplaces with elevated working conditions:

  • Walking/working surfaces are kept in a clean, orderly, and sanitary condition. (1910.22(a)(1))
  • Free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice. (1910.22(a)(3))
  • Walking-working surface can support the maximum intended load for that surface. (1910.22(b))
  • Employees must have safe means of access and egress to and from walking-working surfaces. (1910.22(c))
  • Walking-working surfaces are inspected regularly to ensure safe conditions (1910.22(d)(1))

Catwalk width requirements

A catwalk or runway must be at least 18 inches wide (Section 1910.28(b)(5)(ii)(A)). When a stairway accesses the catwalk, catwalk width depends on the width of the stairway and stairway landing that serves it. Under OSHA Section 1910.25(b)(4) a stairway landing must be at least the width of the stairway, which has a minimum width of 22″, so catwalks served by a stairway must have a minimum width of 22″ for OSHA compliance.

How wide does a catwalk need to be?

A catwalk or runway must be at least 18 inches wide (OSHA Section 1910.28(b)(5)(ii)(A))

Similarly, IBC-compliant stairs have a minimum width of 36″; therefore, catwalks should be minimum of 36″ wide. Some bigger catwalks might actually be classified as mezzanine structures and would, as a result, need to adhere to the IBC mezzanine egress requirements.

Catwalk load requirements

The maximum intended load is the total weight and force of all employees, equipment, vehicles, tools, materials, and other loads that an employer reasonably anticipates will be applied to a walking-working surface at any one time (section 1910.22(b) Loads)

For guardrail systems around a catwalk requires that handrails and the top rails are capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 200 pounds (890 N) applied in any downward or outward direction within 2 inches (5 cm) of any point along the top edge of the rail. (section 1910.29(f)(7) Strength criteria)

Catwalk opening requirements

Catwalks may have floor holes within the walking surface or vertical openings near the edge of the walking surface. A fall protection system must protect these holes and openings to prevent employees from falling. (section 1910.28)

Hole – Opening or gap in the walking surface.

Examples include drains, large cracks, broken floorboards, chutes, and pits that are at least 2 inches.

OSHA section 1910.28(b)(7) states that where the inside bottom edge of the opening is less than 39 inches above the walking-working surface and the outside bottom edge of the opening is 4 feet or more above a lower level is protected from falling by the use of a guardrail system, safety net system, travel restraining system, or personal fall arrest system. 

Opening – Opening or gap in a wall, partition, or railing.

Examples include openings to access equipment, chute openings, and window openings that are at least 30 inches high and at least 18 inches wide.

OSHA requires that employers provide a means of fall protection around floor holes in a catwalk or other walking surfaces.


Install an industrial catwalk to make your work areas more efficient by providing employees with easy access to equipment and maintenance areas. Catwalks come in many designs, so it is important to consider all variables before purchasing.

Upside Innovation’s APEX catwalk solutions are prefabricated, meaning they are ready to install immediately. The industrial-grade aluminum components bolt together, amounting to never-ending configurations. Contact our qualified stair and platform experts to reduce costs and eliminate time-consuming welding with our APEX catwalk systems. How a Catwalk Can Improve Workflow in Your Factory

Stair Tread Depth vs. Stair Riser Height illustration

Safety with Every Step: Stair Tread Depth vs. Stair Riser Height

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Rise and Run for Stairs

Following building codes specific to stairs is essential in any new construction or remodeling project to ensure safety for everyone. This article outlines stair code requirements to make it easy for builders to meet relevant regulations and safety standards.

Building Codes for Stair Tread Depth

The depth of a stair tread is the horizontal distance from the vertical planes of the foremost projection to adjacent stair treads, as seen from a 90-degree angle to the leading edge of a tread. It measures the available surface area for a person’s foot to rest when ascending or descending the stairway.

Stair Tread Depth vs. Stair Riser Height illustration
ComplianceStair DepthRiser Height
OSHA9.5″ (240 mm)
9.5″ (240 mm)
IBC11″ (279 mm)
4″ (102 mm) – 7″ (178 mm)
Minimum – Maximum
IBC Occupancy Exceptions
Group R-2, R-3, and U
(see chart below)
10″ (254 mm)
7-3/4″ (197 mm)
Occupancy ClassificationGroup
Residential transient – occupancies containing sleeping units where the occupants are primarily transient. Structures like hotels, motels, and boarding housesR-1
Residential permanent – occupancies containing sleeping units or more than two dwelling units where the occupants are primarily permanentR-2
Residential group – occupancies where the occupants are primarily permanent and not classified as Group R-1, R-2R-3
Utility and Miscellaneous – General Buildings and structures of an accessory character and miscellaneous structures not classified in any specific occupancy shall be constructed, equipped, and maintained to conform to the requirements of this code commensurate with the fire and life hazard incidental to their occupancy.U

Standard Stair Tread Depth

The Industrial Building Code (IBC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have varying tread depth specifications for various stair types. In its 2017 revision to the required walking-working surfaces, OSHA added minimum tread depths. On the other hand, IBC has long mandated a minimum tread depth.

OSHA and IBC use research on stairways with varying tread and riser dimensions to determine the minimum tread depths and maximum riser heights.

According to OSHA, a standard stair refers to any fixed or permanent stairway aside from alternating tread stairs, ship stairs, or spiral stairs. Standard stairs must, at minimum, maintain a tread depth of 9.5 inches, or 24 cm, under OSHA 1910.25(c)(3).

IBC 1011.5.2, on the other hand, stipulates that stair treads must be at least 11 inches (27.94 cm) deep, measured horizontally between the vertical planes of the foremost projection of consecutive treads and perpendicular to the leading edge of the treads.

The minimum tread depth must be 10 inches in all group R-3 occupancies, all dwelling units in R-2 occupancies, and all group U occupancies supplementary to either group R-3 occupancies or individual dwelling units in R-2 occupancies. Most multi-family dwellings intended to get occupied permanently must adhere to the standard of a minimum tread depth of 10 inches (25.4 cm).

Building Codes for Stair Riser Height

The upright (vertical) or inclined element of a stair that gets positioned at the rear of a stair tread or platform and links near the front edge of the next higher tread, platform, or landing is referred to as the stair riser height.

Standard Stair Riser Height

Depending on the type of stairway, OSHA and IBC also have varying maximum stair riser height regulations.

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Standard stairs must have a maximum riser height of 9.5 inches (24 cm) following OSHA 1910.25(c)(2). IBC 1011.5.2 stipulates that the minimum and maximum stair riser heights must be 4 inches (10.16 cm) and 7 inches (17.78 cm), respectively.

In groups R-3, R-2, and U auxiliary occupancies, the maximum riser height is 7-3/4 inches.


The purpose of building codes for metal stairs is to ensure the safety of everyone who uses them. Any safety risk will significantly decrease if all steps and stairs have the same tread depth and riser height parameters.

For more than 13 years, Upside Innovations has been creating modular metal stairs and platforms. When it comes to design and innovation for a variety of prefabricated metal stair kits as well as custom solutions, Upside Innovations is unmatched in the industry.

CE Course screenshot

Continuing Education – Efficiencies with Prefabricated Stairs, Access Platforms & Ramps

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UPSIDE’S Continuing Education

Step It Up: Increased Efficiency with Prefabricated Modular Stairs, Access Systems, & Ramps

Does your project need to step it up when it comes to stairs and safety? Our CE course discusses prefabricated modular metal stairs, access platforms, and ramps that are as easy to reconfigure as they are to assemble. Participants will not only learn about relevant codes from OSHA, IBC, and ADA regarding stairs, ladders, and handrails, but they will also learn how to specify modular stair components and configurations to best facilitate code compliance and increase site productivity.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Compare and contrast conventional stairs versus modular stairs and access systems as they relate to efficiency, sustainability, and productivity.
  2. Determine which modular stair components and configurations will best suit your application for improved flexibility now and in the future.
  3. Identify relevant and updated codes from OSHA, IBC, and ADA regarding stairs, ladders, handrails, and ramps and discuss how modular stair and access systems can help facilitate code compliance.
  4. Illustrate the cost- and time-efficiency possible through the utilization of modular stairs and access systems by analyzing case studies.

Design Category (CSI Division): (05) Metals

Render of Stairs with Cleaning Products

How to Clean Aluminum Stairs

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Cleaning Untreated Aluminum Steps

Aluminum is a light but strong material common for outdoor stair applications because it is weather-resistant. It is weather-resistant in that it doesn’t rust, but it forms a natural layer of oxide through the process called “oxidation.”

Oxidation can be a baffling occurrence because it is a natural chemical reaction. Unlike corrosion on other metals, it does not weaken the aluminum but strengthens the material. This makes aluminum superior to other metals because of its inherent quality. The galvanizing process protects other metals, wherein a zinc coating envelops the base metal like iron or steel to slow down oxidation.

IMPORTANT – Do not use abrasive cleaning pads on aluminum stairs or ramps

Oxidation creates a protective barrier against water and rust, but it can make the aluminum less attractive over time. If you know how to clean aluminum stairs properly, it will decrease the chances of severe oxidation.

Step 1: The first step is to ensure that all debris, including mud, dust, and leaves, is cleared off the steps. To do this, you must start at the top landing of the steps with a stiff-bristled broom and sweep all the debris over the side of the platform or down the steps one by one; the stringers that run along both edges of the steps may make it difficult to push the debris over the sides. The stiff-bristled broom is recommended to clean out the grooves of the step treads, but don’t try to scrub them with the broom as it might scratch the aluminum.

Step 2: After sweeping the debris off the aluminum stairs, rinse it with water and a mild detergent such as dish soap. Use a generous amount of dish soap over the length of the staircase, and put a concentrated amount on tough spots. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Next, hose off or lightly pressure wash the steps to remove the soap and dirt. If possible, it is suggested to use filtered water because unfiltered water may contain sulfur, chlorine, fluoride, and other minerals that could damage the aluminum over time. Ensure all dish soap is washed off before the steps are used because the soap and water make the aluminum slippery.

Step 3: If dirt is still on the stairs, scrub the area with a towel and dish soap. Do not use steel wool or scouring pads because these materials can scratch the aluminum and give it a dull appearance. Do not use harsh cleaners like baking soda or alkali-based cleaners, as these can cause discoloration. If you want to try a new type of cleaner, test an area on the underside of the staircase to see if it discolors the aluminum.

Step 4: If the aluminum has already oxidized, try spot-treating the oxidized areas with an aluminum cleaner like Aluma Kleen or Aluma Bright.

Cleaning Powder-Coated Aluminum Steps

Cleaning aluminum metal stairs that are powder-coated is similar, but the powder-coating is a little more delicate than the aluminum. If the aluminum steps are powder-coated, there is less chance of oxidation because the powder-coating provides an extra layer of defense. However, if the coating is scratched, oxidation spots can still form.

Aluminum switchback ramp with powder coating

Step 1: Brush off the steps, moving from top to bottom, with a stiff-bristled broom. Do not try to scrub the steps with the broom, as it might scratch the aluminum.

Step 2: The most efficient way to clean outdoor aluminum steps with a powder-coated finish is by using filtered water at low pressure with a pressure washer. Use a mild detergent such as dish soap, and DO NOT use chlorine or harsh cleaning solutions. High water pressure and aggressive cleaning products can damage the powder-coated finish. The commercial cleaning solutions will clean the surface, but they also remove micro-layers of finish. The layer might later become hard and crack while losing its protective barrier.

Step 3: As stated above, use a soft brush or cloth to clean the surface; do not use anything with stiff bristles or a scratchy pad.

Step 4: To keep powder-coated steps looking nice, try a high-grade, non-abrasive car wax that contains a U.V. blocker and/or U.V. inhibitors. Be sure to wipe off residual wax because it could bake in the heat and cause permanent staining. As with any other product applied to the staircase, making a test area on the underside of the steps is recommended.

Roof crossover stairs

Types of Stairs for Commercial and Industrial Use

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Many companies require access to elevated areas at some point. For instance, potential hazards include servicing HVAC equipment, accessing a loading dock, or even a crossover.

Many workplaces utilize scaffolding or ladders for these purposes. Yet these options are less efficient and can contribute to serious workplace accidents.

Commercial and industrial metal stairs have become the go-to for replacing ladders and scaffolding. Metal stairs are safer, more durable, increase worker productivity, and are easier to install. Upside Innovations is a leading manufacturer of OHSA, ADA, and IBC-compliant commercial and industrial metal stairs. We offer many configurations to meet the needs of any application. Below is an overview of common stair types, orientations, and installations.

Stair Orientation

Straight Run

The Straight Run is the simplest and most straightforward of all our stair assemblies. It requires just two anchor points – one at the top and one at the bottom – and can be placed anywhere in your home or office.

Two Straight Run

The Two Straight Run stair configuration mimics assembly of two straight run stairs connected with an intermediate landing. The second point, the landing point, determines the position of the landing, ensuring that your stairs are always in the same place.

Quarter Turn

The Quarter Turn accepts the landing point and distributes the treads in segments, making it easy to land and evenly distribute risers. You can orient the segment in 180 degrees in the X–Y plane, making it easy to find the perfect angle for your needs.

Half Turn

The Half Turn stair configuration is a space-saving alternative to the Quarter Turn stairs. It can be used in both residential and commercial applications. The direction point on the landing controls the width of the landing, keeping the segment orientation unchanged.

Two Quarter Turn

The two quarter turn stair assembly is more flexible to place. The two quarter turn stair is constructed with two sets of landing and direction points. With this increased flexibility, you can place your stairs exactly where you need them in your home or office!

Three Quarter Turn

The three quarter turn stair configurations, similarly to the two quarter turn stair, is more flexible to place. The three quarter turn has three sets of landing and direction points. With this level of flexibility, you can place your stairs exactly where you need them in your home or office!

Stair Types

Stair Towers

Upside Innovations offers fully customized stair towers to meet the needs of any application. Since no two applications are the same, our internal team of engineers will design a custom layout for your stair tower. Our team uses state-of-the-art tools to provide you with detailed drawings and a quote in a matter of minutes.

We design and build stair towers for any height and complexity. Our stair towers feature slip-resistant decking and are 100% aluminum, so they will not rust, warp, or rot. We ensure that all stair towers comply with ADA, IBC, OHSA, and local building codes. Our professional installation crew will ensure seamless delivery and installation. 

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roof access stairs

Commercial Stairs

Upside Innovations manufactures and installs prefabricated commercial stairs that are always ADA or IBC-compliant. The aluminum stairs are solid and easy to maintain, and they offer slip-resistant decking, which can be designed to reach any height. Our engineering team develops a layout just for your project. Then, our professional installation team will install your commercial stairs in less than an hour.


In plant Office/Mezzanine Stairs

Also known as “mezzanine stairs”, Upside Innovations offers two styles of OHSA-compliant multi-story in plant office stairs. The Adjustable OSHA Stairway is a flex-style industrial stair with two-line rails. The stairs are adjustable between 8.5’ and 10.5’. The adjustable stairs are a great choice if you are unsure of the exact height you need or want something that can be moved if your warehouse expands.

The Fixed Industrial Stairway is a custom solution designed to meet the height needed to reach the multi-story plant office. This configuration also offers many decking options – knurled, extruded decking material, or aggressive-tread grip strut decking.

OMNIStep Feature rendering

Inplant Office/Mezzanine Stairs FAQ


Mezzanine stairs provide access to an intermediate floor between levels of a warehouse or building.


It depends on whether the stairs are permanent, natural elements such as salt water, how many people use them, etc. View our aluminum stair maintenance tips to maximize the lifespan of your mezzanine stairs.


We typically lease stairs for a minimum of 3 months. However, if we have the product in stock and can work within your timeline, we can most likely set up lease terms.

Generator Stairs

Upside Innovations manufactures OHSA-compliant aluminum generator access platform systems with stairs and railings. The stairs and platform feature a non-slip tread. We typically use a grip strut material that offers superior slip resistance in all travel directions. The aluminum construction offers superior strength, is low maintenance, and ensures a long product lifecycle. Upside’s generator stairs give employees safe and efficient access to generators to perform maintenance tasks.

Our engineering team can create custom layouts for any application—for instance, a platform for a single generator or a field of generators. We also provide optional installation for generator stairs to ensure that installation is done correctly the first time.

Rendering of an APEX generator access stairs

Loading Dock Stairs

Loading docks are one of industrial workplaces’ busiest and most hazardous locations. Most loading docks lack adequate safety warnings and measures to prevent workers from falling. Many utilize a fixed ladder at one end of the pier. Truck drivers and workers will often skip the ladder and jump onto the pavement when they are in a hurry.

Upside Innovations offers safe and efficient loading dock stairs. All our loading dock stairs are 100% OHSA compliant, helping drivers and workers to enter and exit the loading dock area safely. Our loading dock stairs are made of thick, structural aluminum channels for the step stringers and platform edges, offering unmatched strength and durability. The stairs and platform offer a slip-resistant tread and can typically be installed in less than an hour with no on-site welding and minimal bolts.


Hillside Steps

Hillsides present challenging, inefficient, and dangerous terrains. Upside Innovations designs, manufacture, and installs aluminum hillside steps for any application. Since every hillside is different, our internal team of engineers will work to design the perfect layout for your project. Since aluminum is lighter than any other material, it is ideally suited for the challenges of hillside installation. Moreover, they will not rust, warp, or rot.


Portable Stairs

Upside Innovations manufactures two types of OHSA-compliant portable stairs for mobile offices and construction trailers. Omni Steps offer robust aluminum construction with slip-resistant decking. In addition, the stairs are adjustable work platforms that are fully adjustable between the specified heights. For instance, the 21” – 26” portable stairs can be set to heights within that range.

Our Dual-Height Steps are partially adjustable. For instance, 28” – 35” portable stairs can be set to either 28” or 35” to meet the mobile office door threshold. You can also choose between knurled, extruded decking material or aggressive-tread grip strut decking for your deck. Both the Omni and Dual-Height portable stairs offer easy and quick assembly.


Semi-Trailer Steps

Most site trailers require portable semi-steps. Upside Innovations manufactures three different styles of semi-trailer steps for 48” tall trucks. These include standard trailer steps, trailer steps with a double top step, and a trailer step with a platform. All of our trailer steps feature extra-wide 4” steps, which enable two-way foot traffic. Lightweight aluminum construction allows stairs to move or lift into the trailer easily. In addition, our steps are OHSA compliant, offering handrails on both sides and a 3” grip strut channel for maximum stability.


Crossover Stairs and Platforms

Upside Innovations offers incredibly versatile crossover stairs that can be used for a potentially unlimited number of applications. Crossover stairs make it easy and safe for workers to get over horizontal pipes, production lines, and other floor-level obstacles. Unfortunately, workers attempting to avoid these obstacles is a common cause of potentially serious injuries.

Our OHSA-compliant crossover stairs come in many different configuration options with single steps, single platforms, or a complete step and platform solution. The stairs are made of durable and low-maintenance aluminum and offer several different decking options, including extruded, grip strut, fiber grate, or bar grate decking. In addition, we provide professional installation to ensure that your crossover stairs are installed correctly.

Crossover Stair

Roof Access Stairs

Roof access for industrial buildings and warehouses has become increasingly important in recent years. Workers need access to HVAC systems, solar panels, elevators, and communication towers. Ladders and cages are hazardous and can contribute to serious or even fatal injuries. Roof access stairs are a far more efficient and safer method for workers.

Upside Innovations manufactures and installs OHSA or ADA-compliant custom exterior roof access stairs. Our stairs feature slip-resistant decking, including extruded, grip strut, or bar grating to accommodate different needs and environments. Since no two applications are the same, our internal engineering team will design the perfect layout for your roof access stairs, and our professional installation crew will ensure that they are correctly installed.

Upside Innovations has the perfect industrial and commercial metal stairs solution for any company. All of our stairs are manufactured in the U.S. using the highest quality components and involve a superior engineering process. Call us, and we’ll be happy to help you design the perfect set of stairs for your application.

roof access stairs

Rooftop Stairs

Roof-top equipment requires ongoing maintenance to keep work environments totally safe. Workers accessing roof-tops to maintain equipment frequently meet accessibility challenges and obstacles such as pipes, skylights, ducts, and parapets, not to mention abundant trip and fall hazards. For roof-top accessibility and the ability to safely crossover over obstacles over 12″ height, an OSHA-compliant fixed roof-top stair or work platform is required.

Most commercial roofs are Built-Up Roof Membrane (BUR) made of rubber and/or tar. All roof-top stair installations should use non-penetrating mounting solutions to be effective. Roof curbs and equipment rails (see below for more info) are installed when the roof is created or redone. Both are raised structural elements located under the roof membrane. If your roof-top project requires these solutions, it can be costly and time-consuming to add them. For lighter equipment, such as stairs, a less expensive base plate is all that is needed to be safe and effective.

non penetrating rooftop stairs
line level

How to Measure Wheelchair Ramp Ground Slope

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ADA Requirements

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires wheelchair ramps to have a slope no steeper than 1:12 so that people in wheelchairs can go up and down without assistance. This means that for every inch of rise in the threshold, the wheelchair ramp must be 12 inches (one foot) long. For example, a door threshold height of 25″ requires a 25′ ramp along with a 5’ x 5’ threshold platform. Any threshold that is more than 30″ off the ground requires at least one resting platform in the middle of the ramp to break it up. Why? Because the ADA requires a resting platform for every additional 30′ of the ramp run. Therefore, if the threshold is 32″ high, one resting platform is required; if the threshold is 62″ high, two resting platforms are required.

What you will need

  • Stakes
  • String or twine
  • Hammer
  • Line level
  • Tape measure

Why is it Important To Measure?

In a perfect world, every construction site would be completely flat, but all site workers know that is not the case. Therefore, ground slope measurements are required to make sure that the slope of the handicap ramp is accurate. If the ground is sloping upwards from the door threshold, the ramp will likely require less ramp material than if the ground is flat or sloping downwards. This typically means that the ramp will be less expensive if the ground is sloping upwards and more expensive if it is sloping downwards.

wheelchair ramp measure slope diagram

Diagram 1

The 30″ threshold height correlates to a 30′ ramp because the ground is neither sloping upwards or downwards; it is completely flat.

Diagram 2

On the left side of the building, the ground is sloping upwards, which means that the 30″ threshold will require a ramp that is less than 30′. On the right side of the building, the ground is sloping downwards, which means that the ramp will have to be longer than 30′. It will also require a resting platform in the middle of the ramp that will add an additional cost. A resting platform is required for every additional 30′ of ramp run.

Where to Measure

Slope measurements need to be taken where the wheelchair ramp will sit, so you will first need to figure out the best layout. To determine the best layout:

  • Measure the height of the door threshold
  • Determine the required ramp length
    • For every inch of rise, a foot of ramp run is needed (i.e. door threshold height = 20”, so ramp run = 20’)
    • Make sure to account for the required 5’ x 5’ platform at the door threshold
    • Remember, for every additional 30′ of ramp run, an additional 5’ x 5’ resting platform is required
  • Note any obstacles or space limitations
  • If there are no obstacles or space limitations, the ramp layout does not matter; choose the preferred layout
  • If there are obstacles or space limitations, a switchback ramp or L-ramp would be best
  • If there are two buildings side-by-side, a common platform ramp could be used to maximize space utilization

Once the layout is determined, measure the ground slope every 10′ in the direction(s) that the ramp will travel. To measure an L-ramp, measure from where the threshold platform would sit to where the first platform would sit in increments of 10′. Then measure from the platform down to where the ramp would end. For modular buildings, here is a ramp configuration plan.

standard wheelchair ramp layouts

How to Measure

  1. Take a measurement from grade to the finished floor at the entrance (FFE (finished floor elevation) = _____ inches)
  1. Hammer a stake in the ground at the entrance door and tie a string to it.
  1. Hammer a second stake in the ground straight out from the building at approximately the location where the threshold platform will end (typically 5’4” away from the building), and tie the string to it from the first stake making sure it is taut.
  1. Place a line level in the center of the string and move the string up or down until the line is level.
  1. Measure the distance from the ground to the string at the first stake (S1 = ______ inches) and measure the distance from the ground to the string on the second stake (S2 = ______ inches)
  1. Calculate the ground level relative to the finished floor elevation (FFE) by using the following formula:  FFE_2 = FFE + (S2 – S1)
  1. Hammer a third stake in the ground approximately 10’ from stake 2 in the direction of the ramp travel.  Tie a string from stake 2 to stake 3 and make sure that the string is taut.
  1. Place a line level in the center of the string and move the string up or down until the line is level.
  1. Measure the distance from the ground to the string at stake 2 (S2 = ______ inches) and measure the distance from the ground to the string at the third stake (S3 = _____ inches)
  1. Calculate the ground level relative to the FFE @ stake 2 by using the following formula: FFE_3 = FFE_2 + (S3 – S2)
  1. Repeat this process every 10’ to the approximate location of where the ramp will end
Where to Place Stakes
Calculating Slope
Ramp Slope

Pros & Cons of the 5 Most Common Ramp Materials

[Infographic] How to Measure for a Wheelchair Ramp

Must-Know ADA & IBC Guidelines

Test Your Knowledge of Wheelchair Ramps

Complete 2010 ADA Guide

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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