06 August 2019
How subtle and sympathetic changes to a building’s design can help to prevent slips and trips.
Slips and trips - risks in building design
Slips and trips in historic properties
Historic buildings vary considerably and often do not meet modern standards having most likely been designed for a different purpose to which they are used today. They are more likely to have slip or trip hazards underfoot resulting from the type of materials used or wear and tear. Stairs can present particular challenges. For example, stairs once used for occasional access to quiet areas may now be open to the public and used more frequently. More generally, visitors may be those who are at greater risk of slips and trips (such as elderly people),
Top tips for preventing slips and trips
Here are some solutions and considerations to overcome these challenges:
- Highlighting designated pathways around challenging surfaces (e.g. cobbles or gravel paths), particularly if they are made worse by adverse weather conditions.
- Remove frayed, worn carpet.
- Manage visitor routes around challenging areas such as a one way system.
- Use contrasting or lighter/darker shades of the same material to give a visual clue to step nosings.
- To highlight outside steps; attach LED lights to the underside of a handrail.
- Treat existing flooring to improve its slip-resistance; use matting or change flooring materials where it is practical to do so.
- Remember to consider all steps, stairs and walkways that can be accessed by staff and others: such as outdoor paths, pulpits, stages, vehicles as sometimes these can get overlooked.
- Install a sympathetic sturdy, fixed handrail to all steps.
- Try to avoid rope or chain handrails as these are not as reliable when needed for support.
- Inform wardens and guides to advise visitors of challenges. Make a feature of it if the hazard has historical significance, e.g. ‘trip steps’.
- If your precautions are adequate given your circumstances.
- Completing a risk assessment if you need one to comply with health and safety law.
- Providing information and training for any employees and volunteers on what they need to do.
- Making periodic checks that your arrangements and precautions remain adequate.
- Documenting your arrangements and responsibilities for preventing slips and trips, perhaps as part of your health and safety policy.
- Highlighting challenging areas in your visitor and user information.