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Stair lighting requirements: this document provides building code specifications for lighting over stairs, in stairwells, and on landings; We provide photographs, sketches, and examples of defects used in inspecting indoor or outdoor stairs, railings, landings, treads, and related conditions for safety and proper construction.
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Here we describe the lighing and light switch requirements for stairs, landings, and similar structures. We also include references to key documents on building codes and stair and railing safety.
Sketch at page top provided courtesy Carson Dunlop Associates.
Stairway Lighting is Required, with light switches at top and bottom of the stairway if the stairs encompass more than three stair treads (Canada) or six stair treads (U.S.).
Our photo shows an exterior light at an open stairwell to a second floor apartment. The light lost its weather protection, failed, leaving the occupant with a dark stairway. This defect combined with other slip and fall hazards to lead to an injury.
In a separate case, the loss of lighting at the usual front entrance to an apartment building led a tenant to attempt to enter from a different stairway that was not maintained, contributing to an injury there.
In a separate case a new home owner installed a bulb with watt rating higher than the light fixture permitted, resulting in a house fire when the overheated fixture melted, short-circuited, and set the plastic fixture and vinyl siding on fire.
Carson Dunlop Associates' sketch at page top makes clear that a controlling switch must be located at the top and bottom of stairways. Here are some mistakes in stair lighting that can contribute to a stair fall or injury.
Continue reading at COLOR / LIGHTING CUES AVOID TRIP HAZARDS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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