According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of Americans are treated in hospital emergency rooms annually for injuries that they suffer during slips and falls. Many of these incidents happen in stairwells due to inadequate lighting, poor design or issues with visibility. Simple changes in maintenance can greatly reduce the number of slips and falls that occur on stairs each year.
When individuals descend a staircase, they’re often unable to see the riser. Instead, they only see the treads of the stairs and the floor in front of them. The use of better lighting and contrasting tread nosings, including the use of safety yellow, can make treads more visible and those who use them less apt to slip and fall.
Many stairway accidents are caused by individuals who are distracted or use the stairs incorrectly. Individuals often fall because they attempt to descend or ascend the staircase too quickly or carry things that obstruct their sight. In some cases, they fall because the stairs are cluttered with debris. Others fall because they don’t use the available handrails to keep them balanced as they go up or down the stairs.
Slips and falls that occur on stairwells that are comprised of very few steps are common as users tend to perceive the distance between one level and the next to be much less than it really is.
With longer stairwells, users generally only see the first and last few steps and nothing in between. Users are prone to suffering lower and upper extremity injuries in those middle areas if the balls of their feet fail to land on the tread or extends beyond it, causing them to fall forward.
Tens of thousands of individuals in Florida and across the United States lose their lives after slipping and falling in stairwells each year. An individual’s risk of falling increases incrementally once they reach the age of 40. Individuals who have been hurt on a poorly designed or maintained staircase should consult with a premises liability attorney to find out if they have a valid case.