Staircases are a source of worry for the parents of toddlers and adventurous children, but once you enter middle school, you tend to stop thinking of them as a safety hazard. A surprising number of fall accidents in workplaces involve a worker falling down the stairs. Accidents involving staircases are especially common in warehouses, where workers must carry loads up and down the stairs, and at workplaces with outdoor stairs where weather conditions can further increase the risk of falls. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidelines for employers and employees to follow regarding staircase safety. The extent to which each party failed to observe stairway safety can be a deciding factor in lawsuits related to accidental injuries on offshore vessels and other job sites.
Staircase Safety Guidelines for Employers
Employers have a legal responsibility to maintain stairways in such a way as to avoid preventable falls. OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.135(b)(11)(i) requires employers to place a guardrail in front of every stairway that is at least four feet high. The following are other safety standards to which employers must adhere in order to prevent fall injuries on stairways:
- Installing and maintaining proper lighting of indoor and outdoor stairways
- Salting stairways during freezing, snowy, or icy weather to prevent ice from forming on the stairs
- Providing handrails for every stairway with at least four risers (steps)
- Not allowing trash, debris, or other materials to accumulate on landings between flights of stairs
- Ensuring that doors or gates that open onto stairways function properly and do not present a tripping hazard
Following these standards will protect employers from workers’ compensation lawsuits from workers who get injured on the stairs as well as premises liability lawsuits from customers injured by falling down the stairs at a place of business.
Staircase Safety Guidelines for Employees
Likewise, employees must do their part to observe caution on stairways. If an injured worker sues an employer in regard to a workplace injury, the employer might argue that it was actually the worker who was negligent. The following are staircase safety guidelines for workers:
- Only climb one stair at a time;
- Do not run on stairs;
- Do not look at your phone screen while on the stairs;
- Always utilize a handrail;
- Do not use both hands to carry a load on the stairs; if the load is that big, transport it in an elevator, or have someone help you carry it;
- Do not store items on stair landings, even for a short time.
Contact Patrick Yancey About Workplace Accident Cases
Injuries in which a worker falls down a flight of stairs make up a large percentage of workplace accidents, but these accidents are very often preventable. A workplace accident involving a fall on a stairway could be the basis for a personal injury lawsuit against the employer. Contact the Law Office of Patrick H. Yancey in Houma, Louisiana to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.