CHECKLIST FOR STAIRWAYS, ESPECIALLY FOR HOMES

This comes from the National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification, which has lots of other nifty resources in their library for Strategies for Aging in Place

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Our vision is to create a Center of excellence to ensure the independence, safety, and well being of older persons through fall prevention. Our mission is to provide leadership, create new knowledge, and develop sustainable programs for seniors and their families, professionals, program administrators, and policy makers.

CHECKLIST FOR STAIRWAYS, Recommended by Jake Pauls, CPE

GENERAL

[ ] Locate steps only where they are necessary and logical.
[ ] Avoid small changes of levels, especially single steps.
[ ] Use safety glazing for glass that could be impacted in a fall on a stairway.
[ ] Arrange for any doors adjacent to steps not to swing over any steps.
[ ] Install gates to prevent infant and toddler use.
[ ] Avoid sudden changes of views and visual distractions from stairways.
[ ] Make steps visually prominent so that their presence is obvious.

STEPS

[ ] Build step riser dimensions no higher than 180 mm or 7 inches.
[ ] Build step tread dimensions at least 280 mm or 11 inches front to back.
[ ] Keep risers and treads consistent in size (to within 5 mm or 3/16 inch).
[ ] Conspicuously mark flights having inconsistently sized steps; e.g. paint a contrasting stripe (25 to 50 mm, 1 to 2 inches wide) on all stepnosings (right at the leading edges of the treads) so that the nonuniformity stands out.
[ ] Remove thick (10 mm, 3/8 inch, or more) carpets and underpads on treads.
[ ] Fix tread coverings securely; coverings must be tight against the nosings.
[ ] Remove/repair tripping surfaces and projecting screws or nails on treads.
[ ] Provide slip-resistant (rough) finish on stair treads subject to wetting.
[ ] If stairs are subject to wetting, slope treads approximately 1 percent (1/8 inch per foot) to drain water away from nosings.
[ ] If nosings project (and they do not need to if treads are 280 mm, 11 inches, deep), keep nosing projections uniform in the flight and configure them so that there is no tripping hazard to persons with poor foot control.

VISIBILITY

[ ] Provide slightly rounded nosings (maximum radius 13 mm, 0.5 inch) for visibility and injury reduction.
[ ] Avoid tread materials and coverings with visually distracting patterns.
[ ] Mark nosings permanently (not with tape) if they are not distinctly visible. Note that a painted stripe even works very well, and looks good, on carpet.
[ ] Provide lighting that makes tread nosings distinctly visible.
[ ] Provide lighting that does not cause glare or strong shadows.
[ ] Illuminate stairs with no less than two bulbs (especially if incandescent).
[ ] Have light levels on stairs at least as high as on adjacent areas.
[ ] Unless continuously lit or automatically switched on, provide light switches at each point of stairway access.
[ ] Install permanently illuminated, small light sources (e.g., night lights) on stairs.

HANDRAILS

[ ] Provide at least one handrail on each stair regardless of the number of steps.
[ ] On wide, monumental stairways provide at least one handrail at the normal path of travel. If used by crowds, space handrails 1525 mm (60 inches) apart.
[ ] Continue handrails between stair flights at the shortest path of travel.
[ ] Extend the handrail, without a break, the full length of the stair between floors.
[ ] Augment any decorative stair railing system with a functional handrail.
[ ] Install a handrail around which fingers and thumb can encircle. If you wrap a measuring tape around the railing, the loop should be shorter than 160 mm (6 1/4 inches) for adult hands. A smaller railing is desirable for children.
[ ] Maintain adequate hand clearance between the handrail and nearby surfaces.
[ ] Position handrails at about adult elbow height, 900-1000 mm or 36-39 inches.
[ ] Provide handrails that are visually prominent.
[ ] Repair or replace broken handrails.
[ ] Fix handrails securely to walls and posts. You should be able to bear your entire weight on the handrail without damaging the handrail.

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