Helpful Industrial Stairs, Crossover Platforms and Ladders Popular Terms

In industrial environments platforms, stairs, ladders, and crossover systems have existed since industrial manufacturing has been around. In the current state, many amazing things are accomplished in the realm of industrial platforms, stairs, ladders and crossover systems. What was once pieced together with wood and string is now sophisticated powder-coated metals that can be configured or fabricated in a multitude of ways.  

Below is a listing of terms with definitions to assist you with the terminology that you’d find today in the industrial world. For a more thorough understanding, please contact industrial stairs and platform professionals.

Stairs termsStair terms ErectaStep

Stair Risers –  The almost-vertical component in a set of stairs, forming the distance/space between one step and the next step.

  • OSHA states that riser height must be from 6 to 7.5 inches (15.24 to 19.05 cm).
  • IBC requires riser heights to be a maximum of 7 inches (178 mm) and a minimum of 4 inches (102 mm).  

Stair Tread The main surface of a set of stairs on which a person walks. The tread component can be made of wood, metal, plastic, or other materials. Stair treads can also be created to be non-slip, widely seen in commercial or industrial locations.

  • OSHA requires a tread depth of 9.5 inches (24 cm) and a minimum width of 22 inches (56 cm) between vertical barriers.
  • IBC Requires Stair tread depths to be 11 inches (279 mm) minimum. Winder treads should have a minimum tread depth of 11 inches (279 mm).

Components – Parts and sections when put together properly make a complete system.

Modular – Premade components that can be assembled in many ways to create one complete system. Think of a children’s LEGOs or building blocks.

Newel – A middle supporting pillar of a spiral staircase, or the top or the very bottom section of post on a stairway.


  • Fixed stairs having four or more risers shall have stair railings or handrails complying with 1917.112(c)(1).   
  • Railing height from lower tread surface at the riser front shall be 33±3 inches (83.82 cm ±7.62 cm).
  • Have handrails that meet the requirements of 1917.112(c)(1) on both sides and that are no less than 30 inches (76.2 cm) in height from the tread surface at the riser front.
  • Provide handrails on each side of the ramps, including at landings, and ensure they:
    • Are always graspable along the full length.

Balusters – Also known as stair stick or spindle, are the upright posts that support the railing. Mostly used as a supportive and decorative accent in residential stairs and mainly for support and safety in industrial environments.

  • OSHA requires balusters to not be more than 19 inches (48 cm) apart.
  • IBC requires stairways to have no more than a 4” – 6” gap.

ErectaStep handrails and guards

Stair Nosing The front side of the stair tread or step and usually hangs over the stair riser by around 1 inch.  

Catwalk – A  walkway/platform that is between two points with either 1 set of stairs with a ladder or just a set of stairs at each end.  

Crossover – A combination of stairs and platforms that allow a person to maneuver over an obstacle such as pieces of equipment, pipes or even walkways below.

Fabrication and Prefabrication – Fabrication is the custom creation of a metal object using various techniques and machinery. Prefabrication is the creation of preset components that can be combined to various sizes and shapes.

Mezzanine – An in-between space or floor in a building which is often open to the level below.

Powder CoatingThe process of covering an object with a polyester or epoxy powder, which is then heated to fuse into a protective layer. Can appear to look similar to paint.

OSHA  Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency responsible for the enforcement of occupational safety and health standards. They often complete audits of facilities to make sure workers are in a safe environment.   

Stairway platforms and landings – Platforms are an intermediate landing that is built as part of the stair between main floor levels and is typically used to allow stairs to change directions.

Landings are a section of a floor close to the bottom or top of a set of steps. OSHA requires stair landings to be at least 20 inches (50.8 cm) in depth. No exact widths are specified.

  • IBC requires platforms be 44-inches wide in the direction of travel for occupancy of more than 50. For occupancy less than 50 people, IBC permits a 36-inch wide stairway for occupancies.

Spiral Stairs – Stairs that are connected to a central post support and are constructed to the post to form a spiral design.

IBC –  Stands for International Building Code and is a building code developed by the International Code Council (ICC). It has been adopted for use as a base code standard by most jurisdictions in the United States.

Mono (Single) Stringer Stairs – Commonly known as “floating steps”. These stringer stairs have an open and simplistic look. They are constructed using a steel spine that provides the safety and durability to create stairs that seem to not have enough support when in reality they are just as sturdy as regular stairways.

Industrial Metal Stairs – A stair system that is known to be durable, safe and most importantly compliant with many industrial regulations such as OSHA and IBC.

Make sure to save this webpage for the next time you are around industry personnel or while you are scoping out your project. If you have any questions or need further clarification, contact us at 1.888.878.1839 or via the web.

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