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Safety Considerations for Concrete Steps

Poorly designed, unsafe stairways are a common cause of slips and falls. Here are some important tips for reducing injuries:

To prevent tripping, make sure all risers and treads are uniform throughout a flight. A Design Guide for Home Safety, published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, recommends keeping variations in riser height and tread width in a flight of stairs to less than 3/16 inch. Using round nosings and enhancing stairs visually to make edges more distinct will also help to prevent missteps.

Treads narrower than 9 inches in width result in the greatest number of tripping accidents, according to Stair Safety: Causes and Prevention of Residential Stair Injuries, published by Cornell University. Research indicates that tread widths of 10 to 13 inches and riser heights of 6 to 8 inches are the most foot-friendly.

Make sure stairs are well lit at night by using overhead lighting or installing light fixtures in the step faces. Also keep light levels consistent in transitions between stairways and surrounding areas.

Absence of handrails accounts for a large percentage of falls on stairways, according to Cornell. Rails for stairs should be continuous and installed at a height that accommodates most users. National and state building codes stipulate heights ranging from 34 to 38 inches.

Add texture to the concrete treads to make them slip resistant. This can be done by using a textured finish, such as exposed aggregate, or by adding an anti-slip grit to the protective sealer coat.

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