Written by Adam Buzasi, Associate Director
The importance of compliant stairs is often undervalued. As Disability Access Consultants, it’s not uncommon to receive requests to waive certain stair features from a design. However, this can have serious implication on the overall safety of individuals (even those without a disability) when negotiating stairs.
In Queensland alone more than 13,000 workers suffer a stair related injury each year, costing over $60 million in compensation (Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, 2016). Often these falls are attributed to inexpensive features such as slip ratings, contrasting non-slip nosing strips, handrails etc.
Thus, the irony is that the removal of these features can end up costing a lot more than the cost of installing them.
Let’s explore a few real-world cases:
It was found that the owner of the venue had been negligent in their duty of care to avoid a foreseeable risk of injury to occupants (Furfaro, 2018).
While stair features are important, it is recognised there may be times when when a stair might have modified features while still being deemed compliant. However, any variation needs to be carefully considered and discussed with an expert, such as a Disability Access Consultant to understand the risks. This would almost always require assessment through a Performance Solution.
If you would like to discuss the design of a stair please do not hesitate to contact us, one of our friendly staff will be glad to assist.
Bechara, N. (2016, November 11). Compensation for apartment’s visitor as a result of falling down a darkened staircase. Retrieved from Gerard Malouf: https://www.gerardmaloufpartners.com.au/Publication-2148-Compensation-for-apartment-e2-80-99s-visitor-as-a-result-of-falling-down-a-darkened-staircase.aspx
Covey v State of Queensland  QSC 23, S49 of 2014 (Supreme Court of Queensland at Townsville February 27, 2017).
Furfaro, R. (2018, August 30). Sydney Woman Awarded $140,000.00 after Falling at Wedding Reception. Retrieved from Gerald Malouf and Partners: https://www.gerardmaloufpartners.com.au/Publication-2684-Sydney-Woman-Awarded--24140-2c00000-after-Falling-at-Wedding-Reception.aspx
Standards Australia. (2010). AS1428.1-2009 Design for Access and Mobility. Australia: Standards Australia.
Standards Australia. (2010). AS1428.1-2009 Design for Access and Mobility (Incorporating Amendment No. 1). Standards Australia.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. (2016). Slips, trips and falls prevention. Office of Industrial Relations.