Slips and trips account for a huge proportion of accidents, both in the home and in the workplace. When these happen on staircases or steps the outcome can be especially serious – so it is important to make these areas as safe as possible. Here are our top tips on how to make stairs safer.
Your stair treads (the area of the step that people place their feet on) should be kept clear and level. If you have bare wood or other non-carpeted steps, don’t ever polish or varnish them unless you are sure that no one will be using the staircase until well after it is dry and safe again. One of the best things you can do, particularly in high-traffic areas like schools, shopping centres and offices, is to use anti-slip GRP grip matting or tape.
Matting is generally made from a grit-like substance known as GRP (glass-reinforced plastic) and is placed covering the tread in its entirety, while tape is used to provide a grip boost on the very edge of the step. Use both for added grip and, to highlight the steps even more clearly, use bright tapes in eye-catching colours that contrast with the rest of the step.
GRP comes with a host of benefits along with the safety aspects – it is extremely hard-wearing, can be used indoors and outdoors, and requires almost no maintenance.
Good lighting is the key to reducing trips on stairs and steps. Make sure that any stairwells are well lit throughout the day (and night, if operations require). An important thing to bear in mind here is that, while an area might be typically well lit in the sunlight, on particularly overcast, foggy or rainy days, this light may be insufficient. We recommend bright white LED lighting. For those looking to save money on energy bills, you can use motion sensing or timed lighting so it is only on when you need it.
Second of our recommendations is making sure that handrails/banisters are in place and are securely fixed to the wall or floor. Personnel should be encouraged to use the banister always, but in the event of a trip they will definitely reach for it out of instinct – make sure that it is both present and can handle being suddenly gripped and yanked on.
It may seem a little redundant to teach your staff how to use stairs and steps – but much like lifting boxes, there is a right way and a wrong way of doing things. Make sure that people know never to run on or around the stairs and keep to one side while going up or down (to prevent having to cross over if they meet someone coming the other way). Ensure that they never try to use the stairs while overburdened – ie. if they haven’t got a hand free to use the banister or if they cannot clearly see the floor past what they are carrying.