July, 2007
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Stairway Manufacturers Association Takes Stand on Graspability


Decades ago, a study of just 20 subjects changed the face of the stair industry. While restrained in a standing position, pushing and pulling forces on a handrail were measured and the subjects’ opinions recorded. This lead to the conclusion that a certain round shape, among those tested, provided a grasping surface against which subjects generally could generate high pushing and pulling forces. Even though the researcher, Dr. Brian Maki, warned of the study’s static limitations and approximations, the study was used to restrict the shape of handrails.

The SMA has actively pursued reclaiming markets for profiled handrails since the first restrictions were applied in the 1980s. SBA called its membership to action to help
educate building officials before the Final Action Hearings (FAH) of the International Code Council, (ICC) in May.

According to SMA, in 2002 the association’s efforts successfully retained profiled hand-rails in residential markets with adoption of the TYPE II rail definition for larger profiled rails by the International Residential Code, IRC. SMA believes it is just one step away from having TYPE II rails (profiled rails with perimeters greater than 6-1/4" as wide as 2-3/4") in the International Building Code (IBC). In September 2006, the IBC Committee on Means of Egress recommended that Type II rails be added to the IBC, but to become code local building officials must ratify this recommendation.

Visit the Stairway Manufacturers Association’s Web site (www.stairways.org) for the full story.

Recalls from six federal agencies now in one place

Where can you check for recalls on your vehicle or find out the five-star crash test and rollover ratings since 1990 on almost every make and model of car?

And, where can you learn all the brand names the 2.5 million GE built-in dishwashers that were recalled due to fire hazard were sold under? They were sold in department and appliance stores from September 1997 through December 2001 for about $400 under several brand names.

The good news is you can find the answer to these and many other questions in one place. Now there’s one-stop shopping for U.S. Government recalls. The most recent consumer products, motor vehicles, boats, food, medicine/cosmetics and environmental products found to be unsafe, hazardous or defective by the government agency with jurisdiction can all be found at www.recalls.gov.

In addition to information on the most recent recalls, there are links to the Web sites of all six contributing agencies where earlier recalls are listed, along with safety tips and helpful information.