Stair Safety

Stairs cause many injuries for many individuals. Review the information below to make sure your stairwell is as safe as possible.

Stair surface

To reduce the risk of slipping on stairs, non-slippery surface on the whole steps or at least on the leading edges is crucial. Such a surface can be made of rubber, or metal or painted with special slip-resistant paint. Regular maintenance of the stairs in good repair plus good housekeeping can reduce hazards for tripping.

Stair handrails

Attempts to design aesthetically pleasing stairways including handrails must not compromise functionality. The prime function of the handrail is for holding as support while going up or down stairs. It is therefore crucial to be able to grasp it quickly, easily and firmly if you should start losing your balance. You should be able to run your hand smoothly along the entire length without having to adjust your grip. You should apply the so-called “tennis-racket grip” at all times when possible.

Visibility on stairs

Improving visibility on stairs significantly reduces the risk for common mishaps caused by misjudging distances. Otherwise you can trip on a step or miss it completely. You can catch a heel on the edge of a step. Such mishaps are a routine cause of twisted ankles, sprained knees or more serious injuries incurred by a total fall.

  • Use angular lighting and color contrast to improve depth perception.
  • Use matte finishes on the treads to avoid glare.
  • Avoid patterned carpeting that may visually hide differences in depth.
  • Be very cautious on stairs if you are wearing bifocal glasses.

Work activity

Whenever performing physical work that involves moving up and down stairs, keep the following in mind:

  • Use any means to persuade people to grasp the handrail while both ascending and descending stairs.
  • Avoid carrying objects with both hands.
  • Do not carry bulky objects that block your vision.


Good housekeeping is also vital to stair safety:

  • Nothing should be sticking out the surfaces of stairs, handrails or banisters (like nails or splinters) that could cause a fall.
  • Spills, wet spots, or any debris should be immediately cleaned up. Broken or malfunctioning lighting should be repaired or replaced.