Alternating tread stairs are a better solution than ship stairs for applications with space restrictions

More usable tread depth makes alternating tread stairs safer and more comfortable to use than ship stairs.

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Alternating Tread Stairs vs Ship Stairs
Virginia Tech conducted a study comparing alternating tread stairs to ship stairs and concluded that alternating tread stairs have a clear comfort and safety advantage over ship stairs.
Test subjects strongly preferred alternating tread stairs over ship stairs for safety and comfort:
89%

CHOSE FOR SAFER TREAD DEPTH

85%

CHOSE FOR MORE
COMFORTABLE TREAD DEPTH

72%

CHOSE FOR SAFER ASCENT

89%

CHOSE FOR MORE
COMFORTABLE ASCENT

82%

CHOSE FOR SAFER DESCENT

85%

CHOSE FOR MORE
COMFORTABLE DESCENT

More missteps occurred on the ship stair than the alternating tread stair:
72%

MORE OVERALL MISSTEPS

129%

MORE MISSTEPS WHEN
DESCENDING WITH A LOAD

Test subjects felt less safe and comfortable on the ship stair than the alternating tread stair:
64%

FELT MORE LIKELY
TO SLIP/TRIP ON ASCENT

85%

FELT MORE LIKELY
TO SLIP/TRIP ON DESCENT

The alternating tread stair study was conducted by the Department of Industrial Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and published in the proceedings of the Human Factors Society’s 32nd Annual Meeting. pp 981-984. View findings.

Complete the form below to download a PDF with more information about the safety and ergonomics of steep-angle devices:

More tread depth

OSHA requires a minimum tread depth of 8.5" for alternating tread stairs. More useable tread depth means the entire foot is supported. §1910.25(f)

Less tread depth

OSHA requires a minimum tread depth of 4" for ship stairs. Less tread depth means half of the foot is unsupported which is less stable. §1910.25(e)

Alternating Tread Stairs vs Ship Stairs
Virginia Tech conducted a study comparing alternating tread stairs to ship stairs and concluded that alternating tread stairs have a clear comfort and safety advantage over ship stairs.

Test subjects strongly preferred alternating tread stairs over ship stairs for safety and comfort:
89% Chose for safer tread depth
85% Chose for more comfortable tread depth
72% Chose for safer ascent
89% Chose for more comfortable ascent
82% Chose for safer descent
85% Chose for more comfortable descent

More missteps occurred on the ship stair than the alternating tread stair:
72% Chose for safer tread depth
129% Chose for more comfortable tread depth

Test subjects felt less safe and comfortable on the ship stair that than the alternating tread stair:
64% Felt more likely to slip/trip on ascent
85% Felt more likely to slip/trip on descent

The alternating tread stair study was conducted by the Department of Industrial Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and published in the proceedings of the Human Factors Society’s 32nd Annual Meeting, pp 981-984. View findings.

Complete the form below to download a PDF with more information about the safety and ergonomics of steep-angle devices:

Alternating tread stairs
More tread depth

OSHA requires a minimum tread depth of 8.5" for alternating tread stairs. More useable tread depth means the entire foot is supported. §1910.25(f)

Ship stairs
Less tread depth

OSHA requires a minimum tread depth of 4" for ship stairs. Less tread depth means half of the foot is unsupported which is less stable. §1910.25(e)

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