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How can workplace stairs be made safe?

| Jul 4, 2018 | Premises Liability |

Stairs are a necessity for accessing different floors in a multi-story California building. Not everyone elects to take an elevator, and in the event of a power outage, stairs are the only way to get down from a higher floor. However, stairs can be dangerous if not utilized correctly or if there are flaws in the construction of the stairs. This is why steps should be taken to ensure that stairs and stairwells in buildings do not become a safety risk for the people who use them.

An article on Weeklysafety.com addresses one crucial issue with stairs, namely the railing. Without a railing, climbing on a stairway can be dangerous. A railing or guard rail can provide crucial support as you climb up. Without it, you have nothing to hold on to as you ascend. Also, a lack of a railing opens you up to falling off the stairwell from a dangerous height. OSHA mandates that a stairwell above four feet high must have a guard rail to prevent falls.

Workplaces should also take the time to inform their employees about stair safety, particularly if traffic up and down floors is heavy. Such tips can include telling workers to use the handrails while climbing up and down steps, to take only single steps while going up and down, and to be cautious of wet surfaces while climbing, as employees may track in water after coming inside during rainy days.

Additionally, stairs should be free of debris. When climbing up or down a stairwell, no one should drop trash onto the steps. Discarded objects are trip hazards, and it does not take more than slipping on a soda can or a piece of paper to send a person spilling down the stairs. To prevent the incentive to drop an object, workplaces should have trash cans available near the stairwell entrances.

Some stairwells, particularly at the bottom, provide ample space underneath the stairs or by the wall. These might seem like tempting prospects to store materials, but stairwells are actually dangerous places to store items. In the event of a fire, the stored materials can serve as a fire load and engulf the stairwell with flames and smoke.

This article, while intended to inform readers on property dangers, should not be taken as legal advice.