Getting stairs right first time and avoiding costly squeaks and even running the gauntlet of non-compliance is a major drain on productivity in the housebuilding and wider construction markets. Correct specification and installation is key to getting it right.
Staircases are a prominent feature in any home – get them wrong and they can be noisy, bouncy and a source of dissatisfaction for the homeowner. In addition, poorly designed and fitted stairs also present safety risks – they remain one of the most common areas for accidents in the UK with an average of 665 recorded deaths attributed to slips, trips and falls on staircases across England and Wales*. Accidents happen, but many could be avoided and some of these will be the result of not managing risks during construction works, when a part-finished or unguarded staircase is often used for access.
The importance of design
Accidents can be reduced by attending to those characteristics of a staircase that affect a user’s ability to use the stair safely. The geometry of the stair, the rise, the going and the position and shape of the treads can affect the ability of the user to safely place their feet and avoid tripping or slipping on the stair. But if a user does begin to fall, a suitable handrail can allow them to steady themselves and at all times adequate guarding can prevent users falling to the side of the stairs.
To help with the design of compliant and safe stairs, the BWF Stair Scheme have produced a series of design stair guides which can be downloaded from their website free-of-charge – see: https://stairs.bwf.org.uk/stair-design
A focus on installation
There are many elements that need to be adhered to when it comes to correctly installing timber staircases and a single mistake or missed fixing could render a stair unsafe. Builders and contractors have a duty to correctly install staircases that are fit for purpose. While members of the BWF Stair Scheme produce stairs that will support the necessary loads in both the flights and the balustrades, poor installation practices can cause the stability of the stair to be reduced, potentially leading to premature failure of components and ultimately the collapse of the stair.
To help with the necessary fitting skills and knowledge on site, the BWF Stair Scheme have published an Installation Guide. Intended to provide general information about installing timber staircases, the BWF Stair Scheme Installation Guide focuses on key areas to ensure that the stairs are safe to use and not compromised by poor practice.
Find Out More
To download a copy of the BWF Stair Scheme Installation Guide visit https://stairs.bwf.org.uk/stair-installation