Assignment #1Stairways – Fall PreventionStairs with all types have been used since old times andthey have been always hazardous, so people fall from them, get hurt or eventhey get killed. Most of the stairway falls happens because people lose balance.Falling down from stairs can cause major life threatening injuries. Thestairway falling patients are having higher mortality rates than non-stairway-fallpatients like who fall down stairs like victims of motor vehicles accidents,burns, other types of falls, suicide…etc.
In fact millions of people aretreated for fall related injuries as stairways falls significantly cause a highnumber of head-injured patients causing head trauma.There are two very different types of causes, one factoris the presence of floor obstacles falls are associated with dizziness andfainting and other individual health factors most of such falls happens onresidential stairways. Researchers found out that most of the falls on stairsare either slipping which is the primary cause of stair falls most of themhappens when people are walking down the stairs, another one is the absence ofhandrails cause a large percentage of falls on stairs that result in injuries. Also,unexpected location of stairs leads to many falls.
For instance, stairs of justone or two steps in a hallway or doorway can be very hazardous in particular. Stair design, stair construction and maintenance, stairplacement, stair use, handrails are some of the accident encouraging factorsthat contribute to stair falls.· StairDesign:Stairs especially with one or two steps cause a highnumber of falls; this is a design feature. Thus, if you are planning to have anextension or addition to a building you need to avoid differences in floorheights that require these few steps.
Treadsthat are less than 9″ wide cause the highest number of missteps. Researchindicates the fact that the riser heights between 6″ and 8″and treadwidths of 10″ to 13″are most comfortable for most people.Best stair dimensions are 7.2 inch riser heights witheither an 11 or 12 inch tread width. This these dimensions should be used fordesigning stairs when considering remodeling or replacing a stairway. Sometimescarpenters or contractors use old traditional building formulae for stairswhich can be not informed by human factors research, so a high attention shouldbe given if adding or replacing any stairs.
· StairConstruction and Maintenance:One of the most important safety factors in the stairconstruction is having a dimensional uniformity in the tread widths and riserheights. A 1/4 inch difference between adjacent riser heights can cause anaccident. Existing stairs that do not have uniform dimensions cause real hazards,such stairs should be replaced with correctly built stairs. Several reasons cancause tripping or slipping hazards, so stairs should be kept clear and thebroken treads should be replaced or repaired immediately as well as any torncarpets because they cause hazards. Accidents can be more preventable by addingnon-slip surfaces on treads. Broken lights over the stairs or a poorly litstair cause fall hazard, stairways shall be well lit.
· StairPlacement:Sometimes people are not aware of the presence of a stairas it can be with the same color and texture as surrounding surfaces and theycan be poorly lit or marked which can cause difficulty to see. That can causepeople not to see that there is a change in the floor level. By adding visualclues can give people attention to the stair or by changing floor materials andcolors for example can help people to identify the change in floor levels. Providinghandrail for one or two steps may look as it is unnecessary, but railing thatprotrudes from the wall surface adjacent to the stair give visual clue of itspresence.
· StairUse:Stair handrails helps in preventing falls when a loss ofbalance happens for users ascending or descending stairs; they help users toquickly rebalance after slipping (Handrails Templer, 1992).A research done by McKee and Verney (1988) recommendsthat the height of the balustrade should be from 36 to 40 inches to beeffective in preventing falls with the descending stairs, however the height ofhandrails developed by the national laws and state building codes require aheight of 30 to 34 inches. Generally, the Human Factors Design Handbooksuggests a high handrail of 34 inches overall the dimension falls within therange required by most of the building codes. The power grip optimizes the gripforces in the hand while the round shaped handrails with a diameter of about1.5 inches maximize grip forces for adults and a diameter of between 1.
125 and1.25 inches maximizes grip forces for children. Rectangular shaped handrails areusually easier to hold than round shaped railings, but these handrails requirea pinch grip which is the least effective grip to maximize the gripping forcesin the human hand. Falls on the stairs kill and injure many people in theUnited States each year by taking a human factors approach to stair design,construction and maintenance, many falls can prevent falling.