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7 ways that stairs can be a serious hazard

The stairs: You use them every day, but they're one of the most dangerous parts of your home or business. Falls on stairs are very common, leading to injuries and death every year. Below are seven things that indicate a staircase is overly hazardous:

1. The stairs aren't even. Just the smallest difference between steps -- even a centimeter or less -- can cause you to trip.

2. The stairs are built at an angle. Though perhaps necessary from a design standpoint, people aren't used to that angle and could trip if not paying careful attention.

3. The stairs are collapsing. This is especially an issue with outdoor wooden stairs, which may weather and rot.

4. One step is at an angle or slopes to the side. This sometimes happens with stone stairs built for landscaping purposes, when one of the stones shifts.

5. The tread on the stairs, initially installed to make people safer, is broken and worn.

6. The guardrail is missing. Perhaps it was never installed, perhaps it broke, or maybe it was removed for repair and not replaced.

7. Stair components are loose. Even if the guardrail and the treads are all in place and look fine cosmetically, even being slightly loose can be a serious hazard. It does not take much to cause you to lose your balance due to an unexpected shift.

Remember, business owners, landlords and others have a responsibility to make a building safe for anyone who enters. Stairs are one of the biggest risks, and, if negligence or a lack of maintenance makes them more dangerous and causes injuries, those who are hurt may be entitled to financial compensation.

Source: Inspectapedia, "Two Dozen Ways to Fall Down the Stairs," accessed Jan. 06, 2017

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