Slip And Fall Prevention: How To Make Slippery Stairs Safe
Slips and falls happen more often than generally reported. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) over 1 million Americans slip or fall on stairways each year. In fact slips and falls are the second leading cause of accidental injury second to automobile accidents. Because slips and falls are risky for individuals and businesses alike, organizations like OSHA (www.osha.gov), NSC (www.nsc.org) and NFSI (www.nfsi.org) are leading efforts to reduce slip and fall risks through standards, awareness, training, and certification. NFSI for example certifies slip prevention products.
Why slip & falls happen
Slips and falls happen because of poor traction between the feet and flooring; or general loss of balance. For example if a banana peel is on the floor, or if one cannot see properly, or is in a big hurry, all of these situations can cause slips and falls.
Ways to make stairways safe:
1. Use Proper Lighting: Without proper lighting, one could trip on an object or misjudge flooring levels. Slip & fall survivors predominantly report that they could have avoided accidents if the first and last couple of steps and handrails were highly visible. Make sure you have a light switch at the top and bottom of stairway so you can always turn on the lights before engaging stairs. Also pay special attention to single steps as it is easy to misjudge and assume that the flooring is level. Some people use a bright color on the last step so that it is always visible. Moreover avoid using busy carpet patterns on stairways because busy patterns make it difficult to judge depth.
2. Keep Paths Clear: Unexpected small or large objects on the stairways are trip hazards. Don’t leave toys, shoes, clothes or other objects on the stairs. Clean spills quickly and alert others during clean-up. Also pay special attention to loose or damaged flooring. Loose or damaged flooring is very much like having a surprise object on the floor ready to trip someone. So if your flooring is damaged or loose, please fix it as soon as possible.
3. Understand environmental and human conditions that increase fall and slip risk: Your stairs should inspire confidence not only when it is dry but also when environmental conditions change. Wet floors, icy conditions, drowsiness, all these conditions increase slip and fall risk. Many report that their medication made them drowsy and so they slipped down the stairs. Others report a slip or fall immediately after awaking from sleep and going downstairs. One person mentioned that his bifocal glasses made him fall. Still others report that inattention and rushing on the stairway caused them to slip and fall. When carrying large or heavy objects on stairways get a friend to help, wear appropriate shoes, and pay attention to where your foot lands – especially when going downstairs. For those with child-safety gates installed before stairways, never climb over the gates. Rather unlatch gates to pass.
4. Use hand rails: Hand rails help to restore balance when a slip or fall is about to happen. So endeavor to use hand rails where available.
5. Improve surface traction: The type of stairs (wood, carpet, tile, concrete, etc.) installed inside or outside your home often needs help to prevent slips and falls. Wearing shoes with slip-resistant soles will provide improved traction. However for those that enjoy wearing various types of footwear, going barefoot, or have pets, we recommend improving traction on the stairway.
In upcoming articles we will discuss various types of stairs (wood, carpet, tile, concrete, laminate, vinyl, bamboo, etc.) and suggest ways to make them less slippery.
- Author: No-slip Strip Customer Service