Falls are the second highest cause of accidental deaths in the US and nearly half of falls at the workplace occur on stairs. The number of falls each year are increasing, but these falls can be prevented.
Falls are often due to inattention, fatigue, haste, and illness, all of which can increase the likelihood of an accident.
The following tips will help reduce the risk of stair accidents:
- Maintain proper stair cleanliness and repair.
- Replace deteriorating coverings, such as frayed carpets or worn traction strips.
- Encourage employees to maintain situational awareness.
- Ensure stairways have secure handrails and guardrails.
- Handrails should always be used, regardless of whether one is ascending or descending the stairs.
- Stairways should be well lit and clear of obstacles.
- The bottom step should be visually distinct – painting the edge a different color, such as yellow, can provide a good visual cue to differentiate the stairs from the floor.
- If throw rugs are positioned at the top or bottom of a stairway, they should be secured with skid-resistant backing.
- Outdoor stairways should be kept free of snow, ice, and accumulated water.
- Anyone wearing lower-traction footwear, such as sandals, dress shoes, or high heels, should take extra care and caution when using stairs.
- When someone is carrying objects up or down stairs, it is essential for them to maintain visibility of the walking path while holding the object with one arm and the handrail with the other.
Safety is as important as workers’ productivity. Management must communicate that safety is a higher priority than speed, especially when stairs are involved. Managers and supervisors can use hallway conversations as an opportunity to engage employees in discussions on how to prevent falls on stairways. These interactive conversations demonstrate management’s care, builds relationships and trust, and results in employees being more likely to follow safety suggestions when their thoughts have been heard.
- Stair and Uneven Surfaces on RS SafetyTV
- Stairwell Safety on RS SafetyTV
- SAFEME Essentials module on Slips, Trips, and Falls
Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected]