More than 350,000 injuries and 550 deaths in the UK every year are caused by falls on domestic stairs and steps. Reducing the risks associated with the most hazardous stairs is relatively inexpensive, with a typical payback period of six years (based on savings for the health services).
This report considers the aspects of poor stair design that can be repaired or replaced in order to mitigate most of this risk. These include: handrail design, lighting, guarding, step covering, access and landings, step dimensions, step inconsistencies and non-straight stairs. A stair assessment checklist provides a simple process for assessing domestic stairs, and includes some practical advice on such measures as installing handrails and making repairs. Three case studies illustrate some very poor stairs, and the short payback periods associated with their repair.
In some dwellings, the risk of harm from falling on the stairs is high, mainly due to small going size, dimensional variability, a lack of useable handrails and poor visibility. Simple measures can reduce this risk to a level that is comparable to the average for stairs expected within properties of a similar age. These include adding handrails, adding guarding, improving lighting and major repairs or maintenance. Such measures can be very inexpensive to implement and can have a very short payback period in terms of benefit to the National Health Service.
Introduction to the hazard
-Handrails and guarding
Mitigating the risk of falls on stairs
-Findings of the English Housing Survey
-Major repairs and maintenance
Appendix A: Stair assessment checklist
Appendix B: Measurement methods
Appendix C: Case studies
25 line drawings, 31 photo's