Whether you’re looking to purchase new metal stairs for commercial or industrial use, you’ll want to be sure you’re selecting the right ones. To do so, there are a few things to understand before making a final decision. There are safety codes to follow such as OSHA and IBC compliance and other factors to consider as well.

Knowing what the safety codes are, understanding the legislation, and knowing what shape is right for you are all important factors. If you’re not sure about any of these listed factors, then you’ll want to continue reading below. We’ve put together a guide of everything you need to know about metal stairs before making a purchase. 

Meeting Safety Codes

The top priority for your metal stairs should be safety. To ensure everyone’s safety, you’ll need to understand the difference between IBC and OSHA compliant stairs. Here is the breakdown. 

IBC OSHA Compliant 

Commercial stairs, which are built for the general public, will need to follow the Internation Building Code regulations or IBC. These stairs include any type of stairs used by the public. This also means any set of stairs that are connected to a building that’s used by the general public. 

Commerical stairs must be made with safety in mind for all types of people including the elderly and children. Depending on how high the stairs are and how many people they’re intended to hold, the stairs will need to be a certain length in width and have intermediate landing points. Handrails and guards are always mandatory and must follow specific codes as well. 

There are also more regulations given by IBC that must be followed for commercial-use stairs. 

OSHA Compliant

Industrial stairs that are built inside warehouses and private business facilities are only used by employees of the business. These stairs are not accessible by the public, and therefore do not need to meet IBC regulations. They do, however, need to meet the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulations. 

These regulations take into consideration the intended use of the industrial stairs including access to machinery and equipment, elevated platforms, and more. These stairs must be made strong enough to withstand five times as much weight than expected. There are also more regulations given by OSHA that must be followed for industrial-use stairs.

Learn more about the regulations for both IBC and OSHA before installing a new set of metal stairs whether they’re for commercial or industrial use. 

Understanding the Legislation 

Your next step is to understand the legislation. There are times when legislation changes are made. It’s important that you understand and keep up with these changes to ensure you avoid penalties. 

Depending on what state the violation is made in and how severe the violation is, penalties can be as harsh as a year in imprisonment. Recent changes in the legislation include addressing slipping, tripping, fall hazards, and fall protection. Both IBC and OSHA make changes every so often, and it’s vital that you stay up to date on them. 

Selecting a Shape

Now that you understand the safety codes and legislation for the type of stairs that you need, it’s time to focus on selecting a shape. Metal stairs can be installed in many different shapes. Choosing the right shape is what matters to you.

Read below to learn about the different shape options and which best suits your needs. 


Straight stairs offer you the easiest method of ascending and descending. They’re also one of the easiest shapes of stairs to build as they only need connecting from the bottom and from the top. If the number of risers is kept under 16 or if the vertical height is less than 12 feet, then no landing is required. 


Winder stairs create the “L” shape, but they don’t offer a landing point. Instead, these stairs have triangular-shaped steps at the corner point (where the stairs curve and create the “L” shape). These stairs require much less space than other stair shapes.  


Curved stairs are helical like spiral stairs, but they don’t make a full circle and are larger in radius. Because the offer such a wide radius, walking up or down these stairs is fairly simple and doesn’t take much effort. However, building this type of stair is more difficult and costly. 


L-shaped stairs are similar to the straight stair, except that they have a bend in them along the way. This is normally a 90 degrees bend and is created at the landing point. The landing that these stairs offer provides a resting point for those walking up or down the stairs, creating more safety.


U-shaped stairs have a landing with a 180-degree turn in them. This provides a bit of a walkway between one flight of stairs and the next. They’re a bit more difficult to build, but offer a nice resting point for travelers. 


Spiral stairs are similar to curved stairs, expect spiral stairs are more compact and the treads of the stairs wrap around a center pole. Installation is fairly simple with these stairs because they don’t require added support other than the center pole. They also work great in areas where space is an issue, as they don’t require much space either. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Metal Stairs 

The information above is all great factors to take into consideration when choosing the right metal stairs for you. Keep all of the safety codes in mind and know what the use of your stairs will be so you know which codes to follow. Always keep up with changes in the legislation and find a shape that works well with your space. 

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