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Stair Safety: A Review of the Literature and Data Concerning Stair Geometry and Other Characteristics

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This report assesses stair safety, specifically the role of riser and tread dimensions in accidental falls on residential stairways. It includes a review of the literature and statistical data concerning stair geometry and other characteristics that affect residential stair safety and examines them to determine what they indicate about the safety performance of various stair geometries.

The review of statistical data includes a description and analysis of the contents of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database. The literature review includes five publications aimed directly at identifying the role of riser and tread geometry in stair safety, plus three additional works that are relevant to them:

  • Stair Shape and Human Movement
  • An Analysis of the Behavior of Stair Users
  • Safety on Stairs
  • Guidelines for Stair Safety
  • Study of Factors Associated with Risk of Work-Related Stairway Falls
  • Home Safety Guidelines for Architects and Builders
  • Pedestrian Falling Accidents in Transit Terminals
  • The Staircase, Studies of Hazards, Falls, and Safer Design

This report provides a detailed review of these publications, as well as a summary of review findings.

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

November 1992, 96 pages