Falls are the second leading cause of fatal accidents (only after automobile accidents), and of those falls, nearly 50% occur on stairs.
Keeping stairs in good repair is essential to prevent accidents. Make sure that stairways have secure handrails and guardrails, even surfaces, even tread heights and are free of deteriorating coverings such as fraying carpets.
To prevent an accident, awareness and prevention are key. Here are some simple ways to prevent a fall incident on stairways:
- Whether going up or down stairs, always use the handrail.
- Make sure stairways are well lit, with on/off switches at the top and bottom.
- Make sure stairways are clear of any obstacles.
- Make sure that the edge of the bottom stair is noticeable - if the stairs and floor have the same carpeting or same paint color, it may not be obvious where the stairs end. Painting the edge white or using adhesive caution tape will help differentiate the stairs from the floor.
- If you are wearing footwear such as high heels, slippers, or sandals, take extra caution while going up and down stairs.
- If throw rugs are positioned at the top or bottom of the stairway, make sure they are secured with a skid-resistant backing.
- Routinely check stairs for loose or warn carpeting and make repairs when necessary.
- Keep outdoor stairways free of ice, snow, or water accumulation
- When carrying objects up and down steps, be sure to see where you are stepping and can hold onto the handrail.
The chances of fall accidents in stairways increases with inattention, illness, fatigue, and haste, so take care when ascending and descending stairways.
OSHA's regulations regarding stairways in general industry can be found in standards:
For more information on stair safety: