A majority of Pennsylvania municipalities abide by the regulations set forth in the Uniform Construction Code. The code enables builders and inspectors to know the typical building standards required in the state without having to receive certification in every town. The code provides the standards builders must meet for any handicap ramps as well as other areas of structural design. If the building does not meet code standards, it will not pass inspection.
The code requires that all ramps have landings at the bottom and the top. The landing slope must be less than 1 inch of slope per 48 inches of landing. Landings must be at least as wide as the widest part of the ramp and must be at least 60 inches long. If the ramp changes directions at the landing, there must be enough space to turn a wheelchair around in a circle. If the landing leads to a doorway, the space required to turn around can overlap with the necessary doorway space.
The code specifies that if the maximum rise of the ramp is 3 inches, the slope must be steeper than 1 inch for every 10 inches in length. However, the slope cannot be steeper than 1 inch for every 8 inches in length. If the maximum rise is 6 inches, the slope must be steeper than 1 inch for every 12 inches in length, but cannot be any steeper than 1 inch for every 10 inches in length. Builders must design landings in a way that prevents accumulation of water.
If the ramp's rise is greater than 6 inches, the ramp must have handrails. If the ramp is against another ramp or stairway, the two can share an inside handrail. Handrails must not have sharp corners or edges that could harm a user. Handrails must be continuous for the entire length of the ramp plus the landings except if an opening is necessary to reach seating areas. If the handrail is not continuous, there must be a 12-inch extension of the rail at the top and bottom of the ramp. The top of the handrail must be at least 34 inches high, but no more than 38 inches high.
Other Code Requirements
Each ramp must have edge protection on both sides. The builder must provide curbs or barriers that are at least 4 inches high to prevent users from rolling off the ramp. Handrails cannot rotate and should fit tightly in their fittings. Any windows along the ramp must be in working condition if they are accessible to ramp users.
Specializing in business and finance, Lee Nichols began writing in 2002. Nichols holds a Bachelor of Arts in Web and Graphic Design and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi.