Safer Work Stairs and Steps
The Safer Work Stairs and Steps Information Sheet provides practical advice on four interdependent elements of safer stairs and steps - no one element should be considered in isolation.
- Every working day one person is hurt in a slip, trip or fall on work stairs or steps
- Descending is associated with many accidents
- Slips are more common (than trips or falls)
1. Operational Controls
Operational Controls are the rules and policies around the use of stairs and steps
In 2014, 71% of relevant HSA workplace visits found no activities restricted on stairs, steps
2. Environmental Controls
Environmental Controls refer to the visual cues around stairs and steps
- Provide lighting of at least 100 lux at the tread
- Consider photoluminescent step edges/ nosings and handrails for emergency stairs/ step(s)
- Consider a different-coloured step edge/ nosing at the top and bottom steps for last step confirmation
Visual Contrast and Visual Contrast Checks
Contrasting step edges/nosings and handrails are about lightness or darkness, not colour. Colours that look different may have little visual contrast.
- Check the Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of adjoining surfaces with information from the manufacturer/ supplier. Ensure an LRV difference of at least 30 between adjoining surfaces for visual contrast
- A black and white image can provide a useful indication of the visual contrast
In 2014, 31% of relevant HSA workplace visits found stairs did not have clearly visible contrasting nosings
3. Hazardous Steps
There are 4 types of hazardous steps – Slippery, Surprise, Short and Irregular.
a) Slippery Step
A slippery step does not have enough grip, especially at the step edge/nosing.
b) Surprise Step
A surprise step is not clearly visible or expected. It could be at the bottom of a flight or a single unexpected step.
c) Short Step
A short step does not provide adequate support for the ball of the foot for safe forward-facing descent.
d) Irregular Step
An irregular step is longer or shorter than the other steps in a flight.
- See the Safer Work Stairs and Steps Information Sheet for advice
- Signs should only be used where hazards cannot be avoided or reduced
- On 250mm goings, a large overstep occurs every 10 days
- With one 250mm going reduced by 15mm (less than a one cent coin), a large overstep occurs every 2 days
- On 300mm goings, a large overstep occurs every 73 years
- With one 300mm going reduced by 15mm (less than a one cent coin), a large overstep occurs every 3 years
- Marking more than one step with warning stripes could be visually confusing and ineffective
In 2016, 96% of relevant HSA construction workplace visits found the main site contact had not heard of the Crouch-and-Sight test
See Stairs, Steps Further Information
See Stairs, Steps Videos