Stairs are a particular risk area for falls, so take extra care to make them as safe as possible.

Common hazards on stairs and stairways

  • Open treads (staircases that have gaps or hollow spaces between each step): it is much easier to trip, and they can be disorienting to people with poor vision.
  • 'Nosing', or protrusions over the edge of the step.
  • Worn, frayed or loose carpets or stair runners.
  • Loose floor boards.
  • Unsecured rugs placed at the top or bottom of the stairs.
  • Poor lighting along the stairs.
  • A lack of adequate stair rails or loose/poorly attached stair rails.
  • Furniture placed on the stairs, or objects temporarily left on the stairs.

Reducing the risk of falls on the stairs

  • A colour-contrasted nosing on the edge of each stair will make it easier to see the edge of the stair.
  • A carpet colour that strongly contrasts with the walls will make it easier to use the stairs. If this is not currently the case, consider replacing the carpet for one of a different colour or re-painting the walls.
  • A small degree of forward planning can potentially reduce the number of times that stairs need to be used during the day.
  • Lighting should cover the entire stairway, as well as the areas such as landings at the top and bottom.

More information

Page last reviewed: March 2015
Next review due: November 2016