The British Woodworking Federation Group

Jeremy Vine steps up stair safety

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An important discussion on today’s Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 is expected to raise public awareness on critical issues around stair safety.

As part of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) Stair Scheme’s inaugural Stair Safety Day, the BWF’s technical manager Hannah Mansell will be appearing on the show, providing advice to the public on how best to prevent trips, falls and other accidents on stairs which are known to kill at least two people every day in the UK.

The current media interest is heightened by the alarming statistics on deaths and accidents, and by tragic stories such as that of Michael Sousa, a 12-year-old boy who died last week after falling in a stairwell at a school in Norwich.

Just last month, a survey for the BWF Stair Scheme[1] found that one third (33%) of us admit to having fallen up or down stairs in the last 12 months.

Although the elderly and young children are usually recognised as most at risk, falls on stairs are actually very common among young adults – over half of all 18-24 year olds (51%) said they had lost their footing compared to just a quarter of those aged 55 or over (25%).

Women are slightly more likely to admit to falling up or down stairs than men (38% compared to 28%). Those in the North East seem particularly at risk – the BWF poll showed that over 48% of respondents in that region had fallen in the last year, the highest percentage of all the regions – and people in Yorkshire and the Humber were safest (just 26% reported a fall).

Hannah Mansell said:

“We can all chuckle about the near miss after a few too many beers, the kids’ toys left on the stairs or the distractions of our smart phones leading to a slip, but the truth is that we are all at risk of accidents on stairs and in some cases the consequences are literally lethal.

“The Office for National Statistics tells us that during 2015 there were 787 deaths in England and Wales caused by a fall on steps or stairs – that’s more than two people dying every day[2].

“There is a fall on stairs every 90 seconds in the UK[3], and an estimated 250,000 non-fatal accidents which are serious enough to merit a trip to A&E. It’s the most common area of the home for us to receive injuries, and an estimated that 58,000 children have accidents on stairs every year[4].

“There are easy ways to reduce these risks. A big part of safety is about behaviour, proper lighting, secure carpets and common sense. But good design of stairs and handrail systems and builders’ adherence to regulations also has an important part to play. That’s why we have set up Stair Safety Day, in order to raise awareness and to get across some helpful advice.”

The BWF Stair Scheme is promoting six top tips for improved stair safety:

Stay Alert: Don’t get distracted while using the stairs – best to check your phone only when you have completed this part of your journey.

Tread carefully: Ensure you have sufficient foothold on each tread, use the widest side of a winder step and make sure that any footwear is appropriate.

Avoid athletics: Don’t play, run or jump on the stairs, climb or slide on the balustrades or handrail – go at a sensible speed and never try to take more than one step at a time.

Identify and remove any trip hazards: Leaving or storing toys, shoes or other objects on staircases (or landings) is a common cause of accidents and can easily be avoided.

Remember to hold tight: Use the handrail and whenever possible keep your other hand free.

Stairgates do open! Even if you do fancy yourself as Team GB hurdler, don’t be tempted to step or leap over the stairgate – this can be a common cause of accidents for older children or adults.

The BWF Stair Scheme was established in 2011 to raise awareness of timber stair standards, to accredit to high quality manufacturers and to improve safety. It is the only accreditation and certification scheme of its kind in the UK and accounts for approximately 70% of the timber stair market.

A stair safety fact sheet is available to download from the Stair Safety Section of this website .


[1] A survey for the BWF Stair Scheme was conducted by OnePoll which questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults in the UK on 9-11 January 2017.

[2] Office for National Statistics:

[3] Introduction to British Standard BS 5395-1: 2010: //

[4] RoSPA: //


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