Stairways Can Actually Be Pretty Dangerous
Going up and down stairs is generally pretty safe—in fact, many experts find it to be a generally healthy activity. But we tend to take for granted how dangerous stairways can be when they aren’t maintained or taken care of the way that they should be.
There are a lot of safety considerations with stairs, which is why when we are injured on a stairway, it is often because the property owner failed to maintain the stairway and make it as safe as it could be.
Of course, one major problem is stairs being dirty or unmaintained; a business may clean its floors constantly, but many will ignore the cleanliness of stairways and stairwells. There may even be disputes between whose responsibility it is to clean stairs, especially when businesses lease property from landlords.
The Length and Height of Stairs
Many building codes—as well as just basic common sense—do require that stairs be even in both their length, depth and height. The distance to step up and down must be even from step to step.
You may have noticed that, when you go up or down stairs, your body tends to fall into a rhythm; you don’t have to focus on the stairs because your body and brain tends to recognize the pattern of how far and high to step up or down.
But uneven stairs can lead to serious injury, as our brains start to acclimate to how far the step up or down is, and our muscles brace for impact. When one stair is of an uneven height, our bodies and musculature aren’t prepared for impact, and serious injury can occur. Additionally, when stairs are uneven, your foot can “catch” on a stair while climbing up, leading to a devastating fall.
This kind of misjudging can also happen when stairs are of uneven depths—that is, when the platform (stepping surface) of a stair is longer or shorter than the next one.
In many cases, stairs are the same color, paint, or material. This can lead to optical illusions that conceal where one step ends and the other begins. This is why businesses will put a strip of tape, usually bright colored tape, that lines the edges of the stairs. Unfortunately, many times businesses allow this tape or paint to wear down, and the business doesn’t maintain these important visual cues.
Almost every stairway requires a handrail. But many handrails are not properly maintained.
For example, handrails may become shaky and unstable. Sometimes, such as when stairs are extended, the handrail is not extended with the stairs, and thus, the handrail will end earlier than stairs end. The handrails also may be too high or too low, usually in violation of building codes, which will dictate the correct height for handrails.
Have you been injured on stairs or on a stairwell? Call our Boston personal injury attorneys today at The Law Office of Joseph Linnehan, Jr. at 617-275-4200 for help getting compensation for your injuries.