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How Does Staircase Design Impact Safety?

Shockingly, in England alone, over 700 individuals lose their lives each year from falls on stairs, with an additional 43,000 people requiring hospitalization due to stair-related accidents.

Recognizing the significance of each component in staircase design becomes essential to ensure stair safety. Elements like stair layouts, handrails and banister for stairs, are all factors that influence stair safety, read on to uncover effective strategies to achieve an optimal and secure staircase design.

Factors To Consider For Stair Safety

There are several key factors to consider (e.g. stair layout, handrails, balustrades, materials and finishes) when designing staircases to ensure they’re compliant for optimal safety.

Careful Stair Layout Design Planning

Staircase Layout

The dimensions and proportions can significantly impact stair safety. Appropriate dimensions are vital to accommodate the stride length and natural gait of individuals using the stairs, steps that are too shallow or too steep easily lead to missteps and falls.

The ideal stair design should balance the riser heights and tread depths to maintain a consistent and comfortable stride. By consulting a staircase expert and adhering to recommended dimensions and proportions, you can rest assured your stairs are promoting the safe and effortless movement for vulnerable individuals, reducing the risk of accidents.

Visibility and the minimization of obstructions are crucial considerations in stair layout design. Adequate lighting throughout the staircase, including both natural and artificial sources, is essential to ensure clear visibility of steps, edges, and potential hazards.

riser lights in stairs

Stair Handrails UK Standards Compliance

There are specific regulations and standards to follow when designing a staircase to ensure UK Building Regulations compliance. Following the specific regulations and standards guarantees that your project meets all the necessary requirements for a secure and legally compliant staircase design.

timber stair handrails uk

● For stairs wider than a meter, handrails should be on both sides.

● The height of the handrail on a stairway should range from 900mm to 1000mm, measured from the pitch line to the top of the handrail.

● If a middle or lower guardrail is present, it should be 600mm above the walkway or stairs.

● Handrails on stairs and landings should be continuous, starting 300mm before the first riser and extending 300mm beyond the top riser.

● When fixing handrails to a solid wall, leave a gap of 50 to 75mm between the handrail and the wall.

● Circular or oval handrails with a diameter of 32mm to 50mm and a non-slip finish are recommended.

Banisters For Stairs To Enhance Safety

Banisters, also known as stair railings or balustrades, can significantly enhance stair safety for vulnerable individuals. Consider the material's sturdiness, durability, and grip comfort when selecting banisters. Materials like wood, metal, or glass have different aesthetic and functional benefits. Choose based on ease of grip, maintenance, and suitability for the project's specific needs.

Regulations prohibit gaps in banisters for stairs that allow a sphere of 100mm to pass through. They should deter young children from climbing and meet the load requirements specified in BS EN 1991-1-1.

glass bannister for stairs

When using glass in balustrades, it should break safely, with shattered pieces being non-sharp and disintegrating into small particles. This ‘safe break’ pattern is achieved with toughened glass.

They should be securely anchored to the structure of the staircase, ensuring they can withstand the force applied during use. Professional design craft by an experienced stair manufacturer can ensure the banisters are correctly aligned and affixed.

Sturdy Material And Non-Slip Finishes

Durability and resilience of the material in use are crucial for long-term safety. Choose a sturdy material, like Oak and Redwood, that withstands regular use and resists wear and tear.

Finishes also play a significant role in enhancing the grip and reducing slip hazards on stairs. The application of finishes, such as non-slip coatings or textured paint, can further improve the slip resistance of the stairs. These finishes add an extra layer of grip to the surface, increasing friction and reducing the likelihood of slipping. The choice of finishes should align with the selected materials, ensuring compatibility and longevity.

It’s best to view the materials in person by requesting a sample from the manufacturer or visiting their showroom before deciding on the type of materials to be used.

Ensure Stair Safety & Compliance With Staircase Success

Understanding the building regulations and interpreting their requirements for staircases can be complex, and each project has unique staircase requirements for aesthetics and functionality.

Consult a reliable staircase expert to ensure compliance in every project. Staircase Success offers comprehensive staircase solutions from design to manufacturing. Speak with one of our staircase experts today, and see how we can help with your next project!


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