Treading Lightly: Measures to Prevent Stairway Accidents in the Workplace

Falls, trips, and slips are among the leading causes of injuries in workplaces. If employers have measures in place to prevent potential accidents and reduce risks of falls and trips, the number of work-related injuries would be significanlty reduced.

Stairway accidents, for example, are often caused by trailing calbles and spills – two highly preventable risks of injury. But other than these, cleaning, footwear, environment, and housekeeping can come at play as well.

The great news is that employers can prevent staircase-related injuries on a budget.

Here are recommendations for new staircase installation, use, maintenance, and design to help reduce falls and slips.

Stairway Visibility

One leading cause of misreading the stair edge is poor visibility. However, employers can provide visual contrast at the edges of the first tread or on tread nosing to increase stairway visibility. Stairways colored yellow are safe and detectable for people with low vision. Another way to make a stairway visible is to highlight each step with step lighting.

Handrails and Stair Rails

Handrails and stair rails are used for different purposes. For example, stair guardrails and stair rails can help protect pedestrians from landings or falling off the edges of stairways. Handrails, on the other hand, provide leverage when descending or ascending a stairway and can help a pedestrian maintain a stable balance.

Short Staircases

coworkers walking down the stairs

Low staircases with one or less than three steps are more prone to falls. Bottom stairs are rarely seen, and that’s one of the reasons pedestrians step off into the air. However, restaurants and hotels can use assistive fixtures such as railing to achieve an oblique turn and right angle to reduce stairway falls.

Remodelling a staircase into a ramp can as well help reduce chances of a pedestrian missing a step. Alternatively, the edge of each step can be fitted with safety yellow to make it visually contrast.

Tread and Riser Design

Recent research claims that pedestrians can only view the last three and first steps when walking on a stairway. Thus, the design of the first three bottom and top steps is crucial to the safety of pedestrians. Stairway injuries are more for pedestrians walking down the staircase than when walking up the steps.

The horizontal surface or tread depth of the stairs must be adequate so that the foot does not extend over to the next staircase. Otherwise, missteps and over-steps are likely to occur. Most falls that occur when ascending a staircase are attributed to the height of the vertical surface and variation in the riser.

Research has found that most staircase injuries occur due to inattention and poor maintenance. However, that can be resolved by keeping staircases in good condition and tidy. Never wait until your staircase treads loosen or wear out to repair them.

Instead, your staircases should have no traces of noticeable deterioration. Storing objects at the stairway could also endanger pedestrians. Never rush down or up the stairs or carry heavy items while ascending or descending a staircase.

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