Be Proactive Just in (Stair)Case

From Issue: 
January 2017

When it comes to infrastructure at the workplace, stairs are one of the most inherently hazardous areas for people falling and getting hurt. As with most injuries on level surfaces, the vast majority of staircase injuries are a result of a slip, trip or fall. But this is very rarely the sole factor in an avoidable injury.

If you’ve suffered a stair accident, or better yet, are looking to be proactive and avoid an injury before it happens, here are a few additional factors to look for:

  • Slippery surfaces. While this obviously applies to stairs made of tile and polished wood, the same holds true of stairs made of carpet or painted wood where the “run” portion of the stairs becomes worn down. Be cautious of worn-down stairs – this is the kind of hazard that can go unnoticed, especially if you use the stairs on a daily basis.
  • Icy or wet stairs. Typically, this risk factor occurs mostly in relation to outdoor staircases that are exposed to the elements. There is a duty of care for you to exercise additional caution in inclement weather conditions, but the extra attention doesn’t mean the owner can be negligent. Outdoor staircases must be designed and maintained to avoid excessive water or ice build-up and must be built with materials that do not become excessively slippery when wet.
  • Building code violations. Federal and provincial regulations exist across Canada to allow for specific caution to be taken relative to stairs. Because staircases are so prevalent and inherently risky, building codes are pretty rigorous as a result, and they cover everything from handrail presence to staircase height, depth and variance. If you have any doubts, research the building code for your city by visiting a local library or building department.

For more information or to report a safety violation, visit the Technical Standards and Safety Authority’s website at