How to make stairs safer

by Carter Toni

Stairs are unavoidable for most of us. They’re in homes, offices, schools and colleges, hospitals and shops.

However, stairs can be hazardous. They pose a high risk for slips and falls, especially when people are in a rush to get somewhere. If you want to take extra steps to keep yourself, your workforce or students safe, then keep reading to find out how you can make the stairs in your environment safer.

Install stair nosing

Also known as stair edging, GRP stair nosing is a product that covers the stair edges and also highlights them. This, in turn, offers enhanced visibility for low light conditions and for people with visual impairments.

There are many material types of stair nosing, the most popular of which is GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) also known as fibreglass or Fibre Reinforced Polymers (FRP).

Stair nosing is also anti-slip, which makes it a great way to make your staircase safer. In terms of keeping to regulations, all steps should be level and in private or domestic properties, nosing overlaps must be at least 16mm.

Supplied as sheets, you can install stair nosing very easily by simply bonding or screwing them onto the existing stair floor surface for instant results.

GRP stair nosing requires very little maintenance. It does not rust or rot and doesn’t require painting either. It also holds its shape under mechanical and environmental stresses, making it ideal for use on staircases in all types of environments from warehouses to universities.

Complete a risk assessment

The first step in preventing injuries at your workplace is to develop a risk management plan. For all safety hazards, you should identify, assess, control and monitor.

When it comes to stairs, it is impossible to completely eradicate the risk of slips and falls. However for any staircase to be considered safe it should:

  • Have steps with a wide enough surface to place feet on firmly
  • Be slip-proof
  • Have proper visibility and lighting
  • Be well maintained and unworn
  • Provide safe access to exit points

Install a handrail

You should make sure that a sturdy handrail is installed on one or both sides of the staircase. According to UK regulations, stairs should have a handrail on at least one side if they are less than 1 metre wide, or both sides if they are wider. You do not need a handrail on the bottom two steps.

This way if anyone does slip or fall, the handrail will be there for them to hold onto and prevent them from falling all the way down the rest of the stairs.

Light it up

The HSE Lighting at Work guide specifies that the minimum recommended illumination level for indoor staircases is 20 lux, with the minimum being 5 lux. This means that lighting up your staircase is required in order to meet the requirement set out by the health and safety executive.

Make sure you have lighting for both the top and bottom landings of your staircase as they require illumination at a higher level than the rest of the staircase. If you can, install lights on or near the steps to make them even more visible for anyone going up or down.

Aside from the safety benefits of being able to clearly see all the steps no matter the time of day and complying with regulations, installing good lighting also elevates the appearance of your staircase.

Provide assistance

Providing assistance for the elderly and people with disabilities to get up and down the stairs is a great way to make your building safe and accessible for all.

Safety step markers made of fluorescent tape can help guide even those with visual impairments, or you could consider installing a stairlift to allow people to get between levels swiftly – especially if your building doesn’t have a lift to offer.

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