Across New York and the rest of the nation, stairways pose a constant safety hazard. In a study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, researchers examined the reports of ER patients between 1990 and 2012 who were admitted on the basis of a stairway-related injury. Patients totaled over 25 million in that 23-year span.
The majority of patients were not limited to a particular age group. In fact, two-thirds of patients were between the ages of 11 and 60. However, young children, adults in their 20s and those 85 and older had the highest injury rates. Children tended to suffer more head injuries while the elderly suffered more fractures.
Over 60% of injuries took place in homes. This is a particularly worrisome trend as the Census Bureau states that about half of all homes in the U.S. contain stairs. Some safety professionals also believe that residential stairway construction tends to follow lower standards than commercial construction.
Common attributes of stairway accidents include missing nosings, especially on the top step, stair patterns that create dangerous optical illusions, loose carpeting, slippery surfaces, clutter and inadequate lighting. One good way to prevent injuries, researchers say, is to install handrails with a power grip.
Stairs must also follow specific building codes to ensure uniform dimensions. If the stairs on a public property fail to do so, they can easily lead to a trip-and-fall accident and possible legal action. Injury victims should consult with a lawyer who will hire investigators in the effort to establish the owner's degree of negligence. If the victim partly contributed to the accident, this will not invalidate the claim but will lower the amount of the potential settlement. For example, the victim may have been carrying objects that blocked his or her sight.