Staircase Safety Tips
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Stairway Fall Lawyer. Falls account for an estimated 8.9 million visits to the emergency room each year and are the third leading cause of accidental deaths. Nearly 30,000 people die because of fall injuries each year. A 2012 study on childhood injuries found that nearly 100,000 children fall down the stairs each year. More serious injuries occur when traveling down a stairway than up.
A Spill, a Slip, a Hospital Trip
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death among older Americans. In 2014 alone, Americans over the age of 65 experienced 29 million falls costing an estimated $31 billion dollars in Medicare costs. With over 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, the number of falls and related injuries or deaths is expected to increase unless preventative measures are implemented.
Stairway fall accidents are often the result of deferred maintenance, serious neglect, or poor oversight by a property owner. These types of accidents often involve factors that the property owner could have prevented like replacing damaged or missing railings, boards, and lighting.
The First Steps
Research has shown that when pedestrians use a stairway, most people view only the first and last three steps. The rest of the stairway is then negotiated without looking. This makes the design of the top and bottom steps very important- particularly in addressing visibility concerns. A few suggestions to improve step visibility include:
- Paint the tread nose a contrasting color. Safety Yellow is highly detectable.
- Use additional lighting to highlight steps in a low light environment.
- Post signs at waist height calling attention to the stairway.
Hand Rails and Stair Guards
Another often overlooked design feature that can help minimize the risk of a staircase fall are hand rails and stair guards. Handrails can help pedestrians keep their balance while using a staircase, as well as providing leverage for climbing. Sometimes a second handrail positioned lower along the staircase can help to reduce the chances of a fall. Handrails should allow for continuous holding along the entire length of the stairway. Guardrails are designed to prevent pedestrians from falling off the sides of a staircase. It is also a good idea to use non-slip surfaces when designing a stairway.
Seeing the Light
As a person descends a stairway, the floor beneath them and the treads of the staircase are visible, but the risers are not. The top safety issue is to make the treads easier to see through contrasting colors on the nosing and adequate lighting. In a well-lit stairway, the edge of each tread is properly illuminated, and the lighting is aimed so that glare or shadows do not disrupt the vision of those using the stairway.
Many stairway accidents occur because of poor maintenance, inattention and infrequent use. Keeping a staircase’s treads clean and in good condition with no excessively worn, loose, or missing treads can help prevent a catastrophic fall. If possible, try to avoid carrying items up or down stairs.
As you have probably been warned at some point already: do not rush up or down stairs.
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Sacramento Premises Liability and Stairway Fall Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento stairway fall lawyer with over three decades of experience. Suffering a fall on a stairway can result in serious physical injuries like broken bones, torn muscles, head injuries, and sprained ankles to name a few. Some of these injuries will require substantial rehabilitation before a person can get back on their feet. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries from a staircase fall, I may be able to help. Call me today for free and friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. I can also be reached online here.
You can also learn more about my case results and successful lawsuits on my verdicts and settlements page.
I am part of the Million Dollar Forum, a group of trial lawyers who have won settlements and jury verdicts of over 1 Million Dollars for their clients.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Alabama State Capitol Spiral Staircase by Library of Congress. Public Domain.
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