The Dangers of Step Edges

Going up and down stairs is part of everyday life. Whether it’s at home, work or out enjoying a sporting event or concert, stairs seem to be unavoidable.

While many of us may not think twice about going up and down the stairs, it can present a real and imminent challenge for others.

Over the last several decades many western decades, including the U.S., have reported the leading cause of accidental death of elderly persons is attributed to falls going down the stairs.

The Dangers of Step Edges

Stair Design

The design standards of stairs have been reconsidered again and again in an effort to lower the rate of accidental falls. In fact, there have been several studies conducted to determine not only the cause of these accidental falls, but how to prevent them as well.

A 2014 study by Bradford University, which built on three previous studies, found that vision plays a major role in successful stair negotiation, and locating the tread edge may be particularly difficult in low-lighting conditions, or when the step covering is patterned. Additionally, visual impairments make stair negotiation more difficult, and as we all know, our vision tends to decline with age.

While accessibility and building codes require the uniformity of all stair risers in set of stairs, locating the tread edge can still be difficult.

Combatting Dangerous Step Edges

Research has shown foot clearance and precision improved when a highlighter is placed along the length of the step-edge. Installing a color contrasting strip, like a non-slip strip or photoluminescent strip, across the step edge can improve step-edge visibility, helping to lower the risk of falls.

Foot clearance precision, however, is reduced when the highlighter is placed 30mm back from the step-edge, so the highlighting strip must be placed closer to the step edge in order to improve step-edge visibility.

To ensure step-edge visibility in all lighting conditions, photoluminescent strips can be applied to the step-edge, with with a strip of non-

Stair Nosing Code Compliance

The balance between providing step-edge visibility and minimizing tripping hazards caused by stair nosings can be found in several code compliance guidelines.

According to the International Building Code, in order to minimize tripping hazards, stair nosing must not project more than 1 1/4 inch beyond the tread below, and must all be of a uniform size.

Further, the American’s with Disabilities act states: “The radius of curvature at the leading edge of the tread shall be ½ inch (13 mm) maximum. Nosings that project beyond risers shall have the underside of the leading edge curved or beveled. Risers shall be permitted to slope under the tread at an angle of 30 degrees maximum from vertical. The permitted projection of the nosing shall extend 1½ (38 mm) maximum over the tread below. Combatting dangerous step-edges requires clear step-edge visibility, while minimizing the risk of tripping hazards.”

The Visibly Better Solution

As we know, stairs play a major role in our day to day lives, from home and work to entertainment. While many of us may take on a flight of stairs without a second thought, they can present a real danger to others.

When it comes to providing your building with the highest levels of safety, installing stair nosings is a must. Not only do stair nosings enhance step-edge visibility, they also offer a non-slip grip to further prevent the risk of accidental slips and falls.

Ecoglo® provides a wide range of industry-leading non-slip stair nosings that can easily be applied on any substrate, and not only enhance the safety of your building but provide an elevated look and feel to any space.

Available with a photoluminescent strip, Ecoglo®’s stair nosing exceed all relevant building codes and are an approved luminous egress path marking. To enhance stepedge visibility and provide a non-slip grip, Ecoglo® also provides step-edge nosings without a luminescent strip.

Make the visibly better choice, and choose Ecoglo® non-slip stair nosings for your building!