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The importance of stairway safety inspections

Falls are one of the biggest hazards facing people in the United States, as they put about 8.9 million people in the emergency room every year. They are even the second largest reason for unintentional death.

While falls can happen in many places, such as on stages, catwalks and lifted platforms, many of them naturally take place right where you'd expect: on the stairs. In fact, in 2004, 1,638 people were killed falling on stairs. This is why it's so important for property owners to carry out stairway safety inspections.

Inspections should look for many different issues, which could include the following:

-- Rotting stairs -- Rotting support beams -- Handrails that have come loose -- Worn or uneven tread -- Uneven risers -- Poor lighting in stairwells -- Carpet that has come loose, that has worn down, or that has holes in it -- Excessive wax -- Balusters that are too far apart; the standard distance is about four inches -- Stairways that are very steep -- Sharp corners -- Lack of headroom -- And more

Many of these issues can be fixed quickly, long before they pose a real problem. For instance, a handrail may just be loose because a screw has pulled a quarter of an inch out of the wall. It can be screwed back in without the need for new hardware, in just a few seconds, ensuring that it will not pull all the way out of the drywall or plaster.

However, many property owners in New Jersey neglect these inspections. If you've been injured as a result, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and more.

Source: International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, "Stairway Inspection," Nick Gromicko, accessed June 16, 2015

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