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Every Step Counts: Choosing the Right Hospital and Medical Handrail Solutions


Handrails in hospitals and medical facilities serve several essential purposes. They help prevent slips, trips, and falls while also providing support for patients and visitors with limited mobility or balance issues.

The correct handrail solution is made of durable materials, typically metal or sturdy plastic, that is capable of withstanding the rigors and high traffic typically experienced in healthcare environments. Corrosion-resistant materials that are easy to clean and maintain offer the best options. The best designs are also aesthetically pleasing and integrate well with the design vision for the building.

Safety Regulations and Compliance with Handrails

Compliance with safety regulations for handrails in medical facilities and hospitals is crucial to ensure the well-being of patients, staff, and visitors. The regulations are in place to prevent accidents, provide support to individuals with mobility challenges, and maintain a safe environment.

The primary regulatory body overseeing safety in healthcare facilities in the U.S. is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA sets standards and guidelines for workplace safety, including those related to handrails. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also plays a significant role in regulating accessibility and the installation of handrails in healthcare facilities.

OSHA and ADA regulations stipulate specific requirements for handrail installation that include the following:

  • Handrails should generally be installed at a height between 34 and 38 inches above the walking surface.

  • They should be continuous, extending the full length of corridors and ramps.

  • Handrails must be securely mounted and capable of withstanding a specified amount of force.

Handrail Accessibility and Universal Design

Handrail accessibility involves designing and installing handrails in a way that accommodates individuals of varying sizes and abilities. This includes ensuring that handrail height, continuity, gripping surface, color contrast, and load-bearing capacity comply with accessibility standards, in order to make them easy to use and safe for everyone.

Universal design goes beyond compliance, and aims to create environments and products usable by people with diverse abilities. Universal design seeks to make spaces and products inclusive in order to allow all individuals, regardless of their abilities, to participate, navigate, and use them comfortably. When applied to handrail design and the overall layout of facilities, these principles enhance accessibility, promote safety, and create welcoming environments for everyone.

Handrail Ergonomics and Comfort

Handrails are part of a safe environment that provide essential support for patients. Ergonomically designed handrails offer a comfortable grip, and smooth surface to make it easier for patients to maintain balance and move safely. This not only prevents falls but also aids in rehabilitation and therapy exercises.

Comfortable handrails are also vital for the well-being of healthcare staff. Nurses and caregivers frequently assist patients with mobility, and ergonomic handrails reduce strain and the risk of injuries among healthcare professionals.

Complying with ergonomic and comfort standards not only enhances patient safety but also contributes to infection control efforts, as easy-to-clean, smooth handrails are less likely to harbor germs. Overall, handrail ergonomics and comfort are integral to creating a supportive and inclusive healthcare environment that prioritizes patient well-being and safety.

Hospital Handrail Material Selection

The selection of materials for hospital and medical facility handrails should align with infection control protocols and facility maintenance capabilities. Materials directly impact both patient safety and infection control. Selected materials should have the properties to withstand constant use, resist corrosion, and be easy to clean to prevent the spread of pathogens. Stainless steel and anodized aluminum are popular choices for both durability and hygienic properties.


Glass handrails can be a suitable choice for certain areas in hospitals and medical facilities, such as lobbies or non-patient care spaces, due to their modern aesthetics and ease of cleaning. However, they have limitations in terms of durability and maintenance, which makes them less suitable for high-traffic, high-use areas.

Consideration of specific needs, location, and safety concerns is essential. In many cases, a combination of materials, with glass used selectively for its visual appeal, may provide a balanced solution.

Steel and Cable

While not suitable for grab bars or use as hallway guardrails, steel and cable handrails can provide adequate grab and support properties essential for patients and staff in hospital or medical facility environments. The robust construction offers stability and grip support for patients with mobility challenges, and assists healthcare staff in providing safe care. Cable infills maintain visibility while ensuring the necessary structural integrity.

Proper installation and maintenance are essential to ensure these handrails continue to offer the necessary grab and support properties over time.


Vinyl offers several advantageous properties for use as handrail, grab bars, and corridor guardrails in hospital and medical facility settings. Vinyl is often used to coat metal handrails, such as steel or aluminum, to provide hospital handrails with a combination of structural integrity and a smooth feel. Vinyl is easy to clean, for infection control. It offers a comfortable grip and is gentle on hands. There are no rough edges which can reduce the risk of injury during accidental impacts.

Additionally, it's highly durable and can withstand the rigors of a wide variety of healthcare environments. Its versatility allows for customization, to adapt to the facility's design needs while maintaining safety. Vinyl handrails combine hygiene, comfort, and durability, which makes it a material well-suited to medical settings.


For hospital handrails, wood is suitable for specific areas, primarily for its aesthetic appeal. Wood offers a warm, natural look that may create a comforting atmosphere in certain spaces in hospitals and medical facilities, such as waiting rooms or reception areas. However, its use is limited due to maintenance challenges and hygiene concerns. Wood is less resistant to moisture and may deteriorate over time, or harbor germs, which makes it less practical for grab bars and handrails in patient care areas. Overall, wood elements can enhance aesthetics in non-clinical settings, but should be used sparingly and require rigorous upkeep in a healthcare environment.

Hospital and Medical Handrail Case Studies

Baptist Health, Jacksonville, FL

Facing the challenge of ensuring safe and accessible facilities for their extensive healthcare sites, Baptist Health found the ideal handrail solution. After thorough research, their in-house architects selected Promenaid's anodized aluminum handrail for the 15,000-foot installation. The aesthetics, ease of installation, reliability and durability made the Promenaid product an ideal choice that aligns with the hospital’s commitment to maintaining a safe and visually appealing healthcare environment, to benefit patients, staff, and visitors alike.

Swedish American Regional Cancer Center, Rockford, Illinois

Swedish American Regional Cancer Center needed a secure, durable, and visually appealing railing system to match its state-of-the-art design transformation. VIVA Railings provided their BLADE™ Stainless Steel Railing System, boasting an ultra-contemporary aesthetic that minimizes visual obstructions. Comprising two sleek 2-inch wide vertical bars, crowned by a cube cap at the top and secured with barrel bolts at the base, this meticulously engineered system creates the illusion of suspended in-fill panels. Additionally, this cutting-edge handrail design offers customization options including a variety of powder-coated colors and the choice to incorporate LED illuminated rails.

The Regional Cancer Center is the nation’s first cancer center to receive LEED for Healthcare (LEED-HC) certification. The new free-standing outpatient center, which opened in October 2013, was constructed in collaboration with UW Health and its nationally recognized University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. Project partners included Saavedra Gehlhausen Architects, Eckenhoff Saunders Architects and Ringland-Johnson Construction.

Create a Safe and Aesthetically-Pleasing Environment with Hospital and Medical Handrail Solutions with Acelab

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