According to WorkSafe Victoria, thousands of accidents from slips, trips and falls occur in workplaces every year, resulting in injuries ranging from musculoskeletal damage to dislocations, fractures and bruises. While WorkSafe is referring in this instance to workplace accidents, the same requirements for safety apply to your church building and grounds, as safeguards against injury and insurance claims that may result.
- Slips: occur from loss of traction between a person’s foot and the floor, usually as a result of a slippery surface.
- Trips: happen when a person trips up over objects or floor cracks.
- Falls: include falling from heights and may occur as a result of slips or trips.
To prevent accidents from occurring on steps and stairs, it is essential that all stairways and steps comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) regulations and Australian Standard AS1657-1992. This Standard applies with regard to uniformity in size, width and height of stairs and landings, handrails, and head clearance.
Slips, trips and falls from stairs and steps can occur when steps are not uniform, too narrow, poorly maintained, or they have inadequate space on landing areas, insecure handrails, poor lighting and visibility, inadequate traction, poor definition or are obstructed in some way.
As well as complying with the building standards, the following measures should be practised to preserve stairway and step safety:
- Good lighting is essential and all faulty lights should be repaired and globes replaced. However, lighting should not be so bright as to cause glare or shadow.
- Steps and staircases should be kept clear of objects and obstruction, as well as clean from spills of any kind that may make surfaces slippery.
- At least one sturdy handrail should be provided and kept in good repair. Note that with wider stairways (over 1000mm) there should be two handrails provided.
- Materials such as stair treads, anti-slip plates and tapes, brightly coloured strips and stair nosings, help to clearly define steps and step edges. Carpeted stair coverings should be securely fixed and replaced if worn. In addition, tactile indicators should be placed at the base and top of stairways to assist the visually impaired detect the location of steps or stairways.
- Discourage people from gathering on stairs or landings as this could obstruct other users.
- At peak times in particular take steps to prevent stairways from becoming overcrowded and to ensure that people are not rushing up or down stairs.
Finally, conduct regular church risk assessments to check for any hazards that may cause injuries on your stairways and steps.
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Written by Tess Oliver
Tags: health & safety, risk management