When you visit a public place, such as a Florida department store or office building, you have a certain expectation of safety. In fact, the idea that you are safe from harm may be so natural that you don’t give it a thought unless you happen to get hurt. One of the most common accidents that may result in serious injury is a fall.
Whether you are at home, on the job or out in public, you are at risk of falling, especially if there are hazards in your way. In your own home, you have some control over your environment. However, when you enter a public building, much of the responsibility for your safety falls on the owner of the building or the owner’s representative, such as a manager. An area of a public building where you may be most vulnerable to serious injuries from a fall is the stairway.
What can a building owner do?
Did you realize that your feet automatically know what to do on steps without you having to watch them? As long as the stairs are designed and constructed using standard measurements, it is natural to look for the first few steps and not look again until you reach the bottom or top of the staircase. This is why it is critical for building owners to ensure any stairs are solid and appropriately designed as well as free from clutter.
A building owner or manager should frequently inspect stairs with carpet or treads to be sure there are no torn or fraying areas that could trip you and send you tumbling. Stairs that are not covered may become slippery if maintenance uses a slick polish or leaves them wet after cleaning them. Other critical precautions a building owner should take to ensure your safety on the stairs include the following:
- Checking that handrails are firm and securely attached to the wall
- Providing a railing in the middle of stairways that are wider than two lanes
- Avoiding coverings or designs on the stairs that make it difficult for you to discern the edge of the stair
- Posting signs to alert you to stairways
- Installing and maintaining adequate lighting, including tread lights, if necessary
- Avoiding the use of low stairways (one to three steps) which cause many tripping accidents, or taking precautions to draw your attention to these hazards
A building owner who neglects to maintain stairs and remove all hazards may be responsible for any injuries you suffer if you fall as a result. Contacting an attorney for a review of your case is a good way to understand your options.