Handrails provide a safe hold along stairways of all kinds, from long ones in public spaces to short drops between two levels in a home. Building standards require handrails on any stairway with at least four steps. For industrial and office buildings, the strength of handrails is regulated by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is required that all handrails can withstand at least 200 pounds of weight applied downwards or away from the wall.
For handrails covered by government regulations, tests are performed by using a hydraulic jack to apply pressure. The pressure simulates the force of someone putting their entire weight on a handrail. The tests are conducted with the weight horizontally and vertically. The handrail must support someone who is falling, or who slips on the stairs. The In-Fill Load Test, Uniform Load Test, and Concentrated Load Test are some of the tests that make sure that handrails support various amounts of weight.
After installing handrails in a home, make sure that they will withstand the weight of anyone who will be using them. They should be installed properly, with brackets that will not pull out under the full weight of a person who uses them.