Skip to Main Content

This information is provided free of charge by the Department of Industrial Relations from its web site at These regulations are for the convenience of the user and no representation or warranty is made that the information is current or accurate. See full disclaimer at
Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders
Group 1. General Physical Conditions and Structures Orders
Article 2. Standard Specifications

Return to index
New query

§3214. Stair Rails and Handrails.

(a) Stairways shall have handrails or stair railings on each side, and every stairway required to be more than 88 inches in width shall be provided with not less than one intermediate stair railing for each 88 inches of required width. Intermediate stair railings shall be spaced approximately equal within the entire width of the stairway.
Note: Intermediate stair railings may be of single rail construction.
(1) Stairways less than 44 inches in width may have one handrail or stair railing except that such stairways open on one or both sides shall have stair railings provided on the open side or sides.
(2) Stairways having less than four risers need not have handrails or stair railings.
(3) Stairways giving access to portable work stands less than 30 inches high.
(4) Stairs that follow the contour of tanks or other cylindrical or spherical structures where the construction requires the inside clearance between the inside stair stringer and wall or tank side to be 8 inches or less, shall not be considered an “open side.”
(5) Guardrails may be erected provided a handrail is attached.
(b) A stair railing shall be of construction similar to a guardrail (see Section 3209) but the vertical height shall be in compliance with Section 3214(c). Stair railings on open sides that are 30 inches or more above the surface below shall be equipped with midrails approximately one half way between the steps and the top rail.
Note: Local building standards may require 4-inch spacing of intermediate vertical members.
(c) The top of stair railings, handrails and handrail extensions installed on or after April 3, 1997, shall be at a vertical height between 34 and 38 inches above the nosing of treads and landings. For stairs installed before April 3, 1997, this height shall be between 30 and 38 inches. Stair railings and handrails shall be continuous the full length of the stairs and, except for private stairways, at least one handrail or stair railing shall extend in the direction of the stair run not less than 12 inches beyond the top riser nor less than 12 inches beyond the bottom riser. Ends shall be returned or shall terminate in newel posts or safety terminals, or otherwise arranged so as not to constitute a projection hazard.
(d) A handrail shall consist of a lengthwise member mounted directly on a wall or partition by means of brackets attached to the lower side of the handrail so as to offer no obstruction to a smooth surface along the top and both sides of the handrail. The handrail shall be designed to provide a grasping surface to avoid the person using it from falling. The spacing of brackets shall not exceed 8 feet.
(e) Handrails projecting from a wall shall have a space of not less than 1 1/2 inches between the wall and the handrail.
(f) The mounting of handrails shall be such that the completed structure is capable of withstanding a load of at least 200 pounds applied in any direction at any point on the rail.
Exception: Handrails and stair rails on flights of stairs serving basements or cellars that are covered by a trap door, removable floor or grating when not in use, shall stop at the floor level or entrance level so as not to interfere with the cover in the closed position. (Title 24, Part 2, Section 1006.9.2.7a.)
Note: Authority cited: Section 142.3, Labor Code. Reference: Section 142.3, Labor Code; and Section 18943(b), Health and Safety Code.
1. Repealer and new section filed 6-20-75; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 75, No. 25). For history of former section, see Register 72, No. 34.
2. Amendment filed 7-16-76; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 76, No. 29).
3. Amendment of subsections (b) and (d) filed 5-10-77; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 77, No. 20).
4. Amendment filed 5-25-83; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 83, No. 22). Approved by State Building Standards Commission 1-24-83.
5. Amendment of section and Note filed 3-4-97; operative 4-3-97 (Register 97, No. 10).
6. Amendment filed 12-4-2007; operative 1-3-2008 (Register 2007, No. 49).

Go BackGo Back to Article 2 Table of Contents