Without any doubt, the most effective way to mitigate slip and fall accidents on stairs is to fit a robust anti-slip stair nosing. A common issue however, is knowing exactly what sort and what size stair nosing to use, and this uncertainty very often leads to over-specification and over spending on the wrong products, rather than achieving an economical and effective solution.
Choosing the right anti-slip stair nosing is really quite easy so long as you start by understanding the true cause of the slip problem rather than jumping ahead and trying to determine the best solution. Slip and fall accidents on stairs almost always happen when people are descending stairs, not ascending. These accidents happen because of either, or both, of two common problems on stairs, poor slip resistance on the leading edge of the tread, or poor edge definition on the leading edge of stair treads.
Poor slip resistance – is a very localised problem, not extending over the whole surface of the tread but exhibited only at the leading edge of the tread. Your foot falls on each tread right at the front, with the toe of your boot extended out beyond the tread edge and sloping downward causing the sole of your boot to also make contact on the vertical lip on the front of each tread riser.
Look at your stair treads and you will see this wear point as a smooth, well worn area extending 10mm -15mm back from the front edge on each tread and down the front face by 5mm -10mm. Lets call this area the critical edge. Without high traction on the critical edge, and particularly if water or contaminants are present, your foot will slip on the tread and you will fall. To prevent slip accidents you must provide robust, long lasting and effective abrasive texture on the critical edge, ideally a minimum of 20mm on the vertical and 50mm on the horizontal. Covering the entire surface of the tread is quite unnecessary unless special circumstances dictate.
For most industrial situations a stair nosing with between 50mm and 75mm depth and 20mm drop (vertical) is completely satisfactory and anything deeper is simply spending extra money for no extra result.
Poor edge definition – is when looking down a stairway it is not immediately clear where the edge of each tread is, and a ramp-like illusion occurs. This problem is particularly bad with open grate steel stairs and stairs that have been painted one colour. Accidents occur because you don’t see the edge of the tread and overstep, falling forward. This problem is simply overcome by highlighting the front of each stair tread with a high luminance contrasting coloured strip, yellow is ideal. Safety Step anti-slip stair nosings combine highly effective solutions into one simple product, offering huge anti-slip at the critical edge and bright, contrasting edge definition.
Unless you have extreme circumstances you will only require anti-slip stair nosings that cover the first 75mm of the stair tread and extend 20mm down the vertical face. Spending money on full coverage of each tread is simply pending money for no appreciable benefit.
Safety Step will talk through your specific needs and recommend a suitable solution.