Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We tend to agree, especially when it comes to slips, trips, and falls, as they make up the majority of general industry accidents. According to OSHA, slips, trips and falls account for 15% of all accidental deaths, just second to motor vehicle accidents. They total 25% of reported general industry accident claims each year. In addition, over 17% of disabling occupational injuries result from falls. Most could’ve been prevented.
While slips, trips and falls can happen anywhere in your operation, we’re going to focus on stair safety. West Bend recommends the following criteria to keep employees safe:
- Handrails that:
- Are installed on both sides of the steps;
- Are elevated 30 to 37 inches above the surface of the tread;
- Begin before the first descent or ascent step begins;
- Are continuous onto landing areas;
- Are approximately round in cross sectional shape;
- Are approximately 2 inches in diameter without any sharp edges; and
- Are firmly attached to the wall.
- Risers should be uniform in heights, ideally between 7 to 7 ¾ inches.
- Treads should have a front-to-back depth of 10 to 11 inches.
- Tread surfaces should have a static, nonslip coefficient of friction of a least .50.
- The front edges of the treads should be distinct and potentially highlighted by lighting, a different carpet design, stair safety strips, or other factors to announce this elevation change.
- Staircases should be well lit.
- Landings should have an effective depth at least equal to the width of the stair system.
- The rise angle (slope) of the stair system should not exceed 35 degrees.
- A stair safety rail is needed with a 30-inch or higher rise in elevation of the steps. Handrails are needed on both sides of the staircase if the change in elevation is 44 inches or more. Handrails should always be present on an open, non-wall side of the staircase. If the width of the stair system is 88 inches or more, a handrail is needed in the middle of the staircase.
- If a midrail is installed, it must be midway between the top edge of the stair rail system and the stairway step.