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‘Ramp effect’ a big killer on stairs, what is this all about and how do YOU prevent it?

One of the biggest killers and causes of serious injury accidents on stairs is mis-stepping and falling forward while going down the stairs. The cause of these accidents is very preventable and directly associated with having poor definition on the leading edge of each tread, setting up a visual ramp effect.

Ramp Effect on StairsSome stair tread types are worse than others for this problem but any stair that has a uniform colour, has no contrasting colour edge protection, or is poorly lit will present this problem.Ramp Effect Stair Safety

The treads blur into an ill-defined appearance of a ramp and we navigate the descent more by expectation of where the tread should be rather than positive identification of where it actually is.

Steel open grate industrial treads are particularly bad as are any stairs with painted treads.

Inattention or distraction, perhaps carrying something down the stairs, greatly increases the risk, as does descending long repeat flights of stairs. You put your foot down expecting it to hit solid tread but as your weight comes forward your foot sinks into space in front of where the tread actually is. Once your weight shifts forward it is very hard to recover from this situation, your balance has gone by the time you need to correct and without the assistance of a handrail, well it gets nasty.

Reducing the Ramp EffectYou can quite easily implement a highly effective and relatively low cost solution that is surprisingly simple, fast and logical, differentiate the leading edge of every step with a bright, contrasting colour. Try to achieve a minimum luminance contrast of at least 30%, safety yellow is ideal, and the ramp effect will disappear.

A word of warning, DON’T use paint to do this. Anti slip paint will only create a slip issue on the leading edge and you will replace one problem with another.

Brightly coloured, anti-slip stair nosings, retrofitted over your existing stair treads will give you the best of both worlds, great edge definition to avoid over-stepping and highly effective non-slip traction right at the location it is needed most. One product, if chosen carefully, will very quickly eliminate one of the highest risk areas in your facility, lowering injury accidents and lowering direct costs.