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[SEAOC] Applicability of building codes

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I would like to generate some discussion of the limits of applicability of 
building codes to structures which are not occupied on a daily basis.  This 
mainly affects stair, guardrail, and egress requirements.  In general, 
building codes apply to buildings or structures "designed for human 
occupancy".  But at what point is a structure defined to be "occupied"?  Where 
structures are not normally occupied but which can be accessed by people, I 
normally apply OSHA requirements for "Walking-Working Surfaces".  OSHA 
requirements for fixed industrial stairs specifically exclude applicability to 
"stairs used for fire exit purposes", but OSHA "Means of Egress" requirements 
apply to "Every building, new or old, designed for human occupancy...". 
 
For example, yard structures such as valve vaults typically only have ladder 
access for equipment maintenance and thus don't have a code approved means of 
egress as for an occupied structure.  Larger pump stations, which are normally 
unoccupied but may be accessed for maintenance, may have stair access to lower 
floor levels housing the pumps.  Do these stairs need to meet OSHA industrial 
stair requirements or the "Life Safety Code" (NFPA) for fire exit stairs or 
building code (UBC) requirements?  At what point are fire exit stairs required 
vs industrial stairs vs ladder access?  Any thoughts? 
 


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