The call for safer stairs

Why call for safer stairs?

As we outline in our Safer by Design framework, falls on the stairs claim the lives of over 700 people every year. This is over 17 times more than the number of lives lost on construction sites. There are also over 300,000 A&E attendances every year due to falls on stairs in the home.

While accidents like fires rightly make the news, falls are so common they often go unnoticed. Yet for every hospital admission due to a fire, there are 235 due to falls.

The burden of these injuries is disproportionately felt by the elderly, particularly in more deprived areas. Even when falls do not kill, they are often the first stage of a persistent decline, and many people end up in care homes as a result of falling.

Most families will have first-hand experience of just how serious the consequences of a fall can be. An ageing population; an NHS under considerable COVID-related pressure and a long-term move to hybrid home-working mean that tackling falls in the home is now more important than ever.

What are safer stairs?

Safe stairs are crucial to creating safe buildings – not least as in the event of a fire they are an important means of escape.

Improving safety standards for stair design will significantly reduce the number of people needlessly dying and getting hurt.

There is already an existing tried and tested British Standard (BS 5395-1) which does just this. It considers the dimensions of the stairs; their slip resistance and the provision of handrails. It is estimated that stairs built to the British Standard in new build homes result in an estimated 60% fewer falls. Enshrining BS5395-1 into law would therefore save the NHS up to £5 million every year through accident reduction.

Compliance to BS 5395-1 is commercially viable, evidence based, and straightforward to implement. This is why we are campaigning for BS 5395-1 to be enshrined into law for new build homes from 2024.

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Speech in the House of Commons

Paul Maynard MP, (Blackpool North and Cleveleys) speaking in the House of Commons in support of RoSPA’s safer stairs campaign - Wednesday, July 21 2021

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Press release

Momentum gathers behind RoSPA’s safer stairs campaign as MP calls for amendment to Building Safety Bill

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Help spread the message by downloading the Safer stairs infographic below

Support for safer stairs

"Enshrining British Standard 5395-1 in law as part of the Building Safety Bill would save lives.”

Baroness Eaton

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“On stairs that are designed to the British standard, falls decrease by over 60%, significantly reducing admissions to A&E—so why would we not take this simple action? There is a respected evidence base and an outcome that is preferable to the status quo.”

Baroness Jolly

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“The Government have an ambitious housebuilding programme and I am sure that they are equally ambitious that when houses are built, the safety of the occupants is seen as essential. I can tell them that “safer by design” was crafted to fulfil that ambition.”

Lord Jordan of Bournville CBE

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“We are keen to support any measure that can help reduce accidents in homes and we strongly believe that “safer by design” is one of the most important concepts to achieve the above aim. We are supportive of the call by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, RoSPA, for BS 5395-1 to be mandated for all new build housing in order to seek to reduce the high number of injuries that occur as a result of falls.”

Dawn Whittaker
CEO and Chief Fire Officer, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service

“Falls are a really important part of the work that ends up coming to our accident and emergency department. Anything that we can do to prevent them, such as the work RoSPA is doing looking at staircases is really, really important. Thank you for doing what you can to support this.”

Dr Julian Redhead
Medical Director, Imperial NHS Trust

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“We are confident that it is technically and commercially feasible for us to achieve this standard”

Karl Whiteman
Executive Director, Berkeley Group

“We put enormous focus on safety during the construction of our homes, and rightly so. But it is shocking to realise that the death toll from falls on stairs in the home claim the lives of over 700 people each year compared to the 39 deaths on construction sites. The wellbeing of our customers is at the heart of everything we do and it is absolutely our duty to do all we can to prevent loss of life. That is why we have made a commitment to voluntarily sign up to design our future homes to accord with the British Standard.”

Helen Moore
Group Director of Orbit Homes

“Falls in the home remain one of the top hazards identified by EHPs. Moreover, the current building control guidelines still allow the installation of alternate tread stairs in some circumstances. These types of stairs are particularly dangerous”

Phil James
Chief Executive, Chartered Institute Environmental Health

“We welcome frameworks like RoSPA’s ‘Safer by Design’ that make an important contribution to protecting people at home

Duncan Johnson
Deputy Director, Office for Product Safety and Standards

Get involved

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Contact your MP

Download the letter template and use it to let your MP know why they should support our campaign for safer stairs

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Share your story

If you, or a loved one, have experienced the devastation that a fall on the stairs can cause, get in touch so we can work together to prevent others suffering

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Pledge your support

Help ensure that the future of new build homes are safer than those that have gone before, by pledging your support

Contact Us

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+44 (0)121 248 2000
+44 (0)121 248 2001
[email protected]
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