InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.
Stair design specifications for older adults or for people with limited mobility:
This article lists safety features and optimal stairway designs for older building occupants. These same specifications should assist anyone who has limited ability to climb stairs such as people suffering from arthritis.
Page top photo: an older stair-user at Portofino near Genoa, Italy, facing a steep climb, angled stairs, and an open stair guard is nonetheless making use of a secure handrailing.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
Optimum Stair Riser Height for Seniors & People with Limited Stair Climbing Ability
This article discusses stair step designs for people who have trouble ascending or descending stairways.
What about building long stair runs with steps each of which has a very low riser height?
Here we discuss stair options for easy-climbing stairs and we point out where some low-riser step hazards may be lurking along the stairway.
Stair falls are particularly dangerous for the elderly or for others with limited mobility. But does this mean that we should simply eliminate stairs, replacing them with ramps or stairway chair lifts?
But there are also health benefits from using stairs, leading expert sources to avoid recommending simply stopping using stairways as we illustrate with the following excerpt from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Falls on stairs can be a major threat to health, independence and confidence. The physical consequences can be serious, including soft-tissue damage and broken bones — especially hips.
Other serious consequences — particularly for older people — can be the psychological effects resulting from a fall such as lowered confidence and a loss of a feeling of safety, which further reduces health, mobility and activity. Many people never fully recover from the consequences of a fall. ...
There can be health benefits to using stairs. According to Health Canada’s Stairway to Health Program, activities like climbing stairs significantly contribute to the 30 minutes of physical activity we all need every day.
Stair climbing increases leg power and may be important in helping elderly people reduce the risk of injury from falls.
Your doctor can best advise you if you have special health problems that might limit or even prevent you from using stairs. However, it does mean always being aware that stairs can be risky and knowing how to reduce the risks. - CMHC (2015)
Reader Question: what are the best stair dimensions for people with physical limitations or for seniors
28 April 2015 Cynthia Johnson said:
What are the best dimensions for seniors with physical limitations i.e. Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Excellent question, Cynthia. Experts suggest that for more physically limited people the best way avoid falls is to seek living accommodations on a single floor.
Affi et als (2014 and earlier) have weighted the contributions of various stair features to the risk of a stair fall, considering for example, straight versus turned stairways, with or without landings, number of steps, handrail design, lighting specifications, and step design specifications (using a tread depth of 269mm and a riser height of 174mm with a 40 mm tread nosing in a case example to state various risk contributors.
Afifi et als (2013 & 2014) specifically investigated staircase design for older adults.
Best step riser height for seniors
The authors examined riser heights between 152mm (5.98 in) and 190 mm (7.48 in). These riser heights or "step rise heights" appear to be the optimal range in riser height.
Best going depth or tread depth for stair treads for seniors
The "going depth" or "tread depth" which I describe as distance from stair nose face to riser face was considered optimal at 280 mm to 330 mm. The authors cited < 280mm and > 330 mm as "worst-case" scenarios, but I suggest that for some situations such as exterior stairs where much long going depths are feasible those data might change.
For an interior stairway, very long going depth dimensions are not practical because the total stair run becomes longer than will fit in most indoor spaces.
Furthermore the cost of converting an existing set of steps each having a 7-inch rise into a set of stair steps each with a 3.5" rise would not only double the run length of the stairway but it would be very costly. In some cases low-rise steps with intermediate landing platforms might fit into a building space but again, the cost of such a change is probably much greater than the addition of a stairway chair lift.
Interestingly, recent research by Donath et als (2013) suggests that stair climbing can make an important contribution to the health, fitness, balance and heart condition of seniors.
Beyond that I've seen with my own mom as well as in the literature, that the smallest irregularity in a walking surface, more than about 1/8", can form a trip and fall hazard. Indeed falls the major source of injuries in most countries (though traffic accidents claim more lives) and the major source of lost work time among the working population.
Gunatilaka (2005) in recommending stair code improvements for Australia, focused on falls in the home and found falls causing 16% of all unintentional deaths (2002) and 23% of hospital admissions.
Critical factors in safe stair design for seniors or people with limited mobility
But Affi et als in a recent work (2014) cite an exhaustive if not exhausting list of stair features that are considered in assessing the safety of a stairway, from which we excerpt and adapt for cases where stairs are unavoidable and we are trying to both make stairs easy to climb and to minimize trip hazards we want first to pay attention to the following items.
Geometric design of the stairway for seniors: stair shape (straight vs circular or composite, number of steps per flight).
Stair cases may be straight, U-shaped, curved or spiral (in my opinion high risk because of irregular tread shape and reduced walking area as well as sometimes forcing a user to walk away from a handrail) or making a partial or complete turn; landings may be present or omitted.
Number of steps in the stairway: both long stair flights (more than 12 steps) and short stair flights (less than 6 steps) increase the risk of falling.
Optimal number of steps is 10-12 steps in the stair flight. Afifi (2014).
Stairway lighting: proper lighting (for seniors and others) in the stairways is not only required in all model building codes, but is critical for elder-safety.
Illumination of stairways used by older people should be at least 300-lux according to the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) and illumination must be consistent. The proper location of light switches is also very important.
Light switches must be located far enough from the stairway as to be safely accessible and must be able to turn lights on and off from both stair top and bottom (as is required by stair codes). See Kim (2009)
Handrailing & Grab-Rail design for seniors: secure, continuous, graspable handrailings, at the proper height.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Figure 29 Grab Bars at Water Closets.
Figure 29(a) Back Wall.
A 36 inches (915 mm) minimum length grab bar, mounted 33-36 inches (840-915 mm) above the finish floor, is required behind the water closet.
The grab bar must extend at least 12 inches (305 mm) from the centerline of the water closet toward the side wall and at least 24 inches (610 mm) from the centerline of the water closet toward the open side.
Figure 29(b) Side Wall.
A 42 inches (1065 mm) minimum length grab bar is required on the side wall, spaced a maximum of 12 inches (305 mm) from the back wall and extending a minimum of 54 inches (1370 mm) from the back wall at a height of 33-36 inches (840-915 mm).
The toilet paper dispenser shall be mounted below the grab bar at a minimum height of 19 inches (485 mm). The height of the toilet seat shall be 17 to 19 inches (430 - 485 mm) above the finished floor.
With those basics in place, if people using a stair have trouble with tall treads we could, if space permits, use a shorter rise, even just 3-inches.
BUT to do so every stair tread also has to be made longer (or "deeper" in the direction of travel). That is, we can't shorten the rise without making the tread depth greater as well. Otherwise the stairs are still a trip hazard.
A lot of research has been done into optimal stair tread design. Interestingly the optimum stair design for ascending can be different from descending, so every stair design will have to compromise those theories.
Optimal stair design for seniors or physically-limited building occupants
U.S. ADA Stair & Railing Specifications vs Easy-Climbing Stairs
Photo: a sign points the way up steep, high-rise and uneven-rise but ancient pyramid steps at Atzompa in Oxaca, Mexico near the more popular Monte Alban.
There you will see that the ADA section 4.9 "Stairs" does not discuss short riser stair steps or "easily-climbable stairs"..
Americans with Disabilities Act Title III Regulations Part 36 Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities
(current as of January 17, 2017) - as of 2018/10/26, complete text was available at https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleIII_2010/titleIII_2010_regulations.htm
ADA APPENDIX A 1191 ACCESSIBILITY GUIDELINES [PDF] - complete text, U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990, U.S. Department of Justice, & revised Title II & Title III 2010, Website: www.ada.gov, Tel: 1-800-514-0301, TTY: 1-800-514-0383
The Department´s 2010 title III ADA regulation published September 15, 2010, should be used beginning March 15, 2011.
Home safety advice for the disabled and for veterans. Definition of Aging In Place systems and support for the elderly. Sources of home monitoring systems for the elderly. Sources of medication reminder and prescription refill services for the elderly.
Sources of inspectors for home safety inspections. Sources of financing for home safety and accessibility improvements
Sanford, J.A., Arch M, Megrew MB,"An evaluation of grab bars to meet the needs of elderly people",
Assist Technol. 1995;7(1):36-47.
Abstract This paper reports the findings of a study that evaluated the ability of 66 ambulatory and 50 nonambulatory older people to toilet independently and safely. A repeated measures research design included eight test trials in which participants got on and off a toilet using four different grab bar configurations each at two different toilet seat heights.
Each trial was video-taped in order to determine patterns of grab bar use for each toilet height/grab bar configuration. In addition, pretrial and posttrial interviews were conducted to determine participant preferences and perceived safety.
Results of this study indicate that some grab bar configurations that were not code-compliant were preferred and were used more often than configurations that were designed to meet Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.
These findings raise questions as to whether legally mandated grab bar requirements are appropriate for older individuals.
SLIP TRIP & FALL HAZARD LIST, STAIRS - Photographs of all kinds of stair and step & walk defects illustrate a wide range of causes of falling down the stairs - stair trip and fall hazards and injury sources.
Curved, Tapered Steps & Stair Hazards. Lack of Visual clues to Indicate Presence of a Step or Stair. Is it a Step or a Passage? A rug at the top of the stairs is a fall hazard.
SLIPS, TRIPS & FALLS, EXTERIOR STAIRS - Exterior Stair trip & fall hazard photographs & descriptions - a photo catalog of slip trip and fall hazards at outdoor steps and stairs. Dilapidated Stair Structures: rot, loose connections, pitched, wobbly, missing parts, collapse risk. Unsafe Landscape-tie or railroad tie step and walk tripping hazards.
Slip Trip Fall Defects in Masonry Steps and Landings Outdoors. Slippery Exterior Stair Surfaces: glass & tile. Curved, Tall, or Uneven Stair Fall Hazards. Clandestine Trip and Fall Hazards at Low Decks & Platforms. Algae, Ice, Fungus, & Other Stair Slip, Trip & Fall Hazards
Archea, John C. "Environmental factors associated with stair accidents by the elderly." Clinics in Geriatric Medicine 1, no. 3 (1985): 555-569.
Stairs have been shown to be the most hazardous component of the everyday physical environment. The elderly have been identified as the segment of the population that is most vulnerable to accidents on stairs.
Research reported herein attributes much of this heightened vulnerability to decrements in perceptual and motoric functioning associated with aging. Specific characteristics of stair design that have contributed to, or could minimize, this vulnerability are discussed.
Afifi, Mona, Belinda Parke, and Mohamed Al-Hussein. "Integrated approach for older adult friendly home staircase architectural design." [PDF] Automation in Construction 39 (2014): 117-125.
The older adult population requires special consideration in terms of interior architectural design. This paper presents a methodology which aims to investigate the risk of falling associated with the architectural design of staircase elements, in order to suggest best practices to create elderly-friendly design that enhances safety for older adults.
The proposed methodology uses the concept of evidence-based assessment to evaluate staircase elements such as handrail and step design.
This paper also presents a scenario-based rating system that assesses the degree of the risk of falling for different types of architectural staircase design.
The proposed rating system was incorporated into a mathematical model and a Design Assessment Tree (DAT) that calculate the degree of risk associated with architectural staircase design to facilitate a building information modeling (BIM) approach.
A hypothetical case study is presented to illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed methodology and highlights the essential features of the proposed model.
Afifi, Mona, Belinda Parke, and Mohamed Al-Hussein. "Evidence-Based Assessment of Geometrical Staircase Configurations for Older Adults." In AEI 2013 @ Building Solutions for Architectural Engineering, pp. 584-593. ASCE. [AEI Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI)
Maintaining safety for older adults aged 65 years and older is a challenge that could be addressed by applying conscious design. Accordingly, the concept of creating a home environment which enhances safety for older adults becomes essential.
Considering that staircases vary widely in their geometrical configurations, this paper presents an evidence-based assessment for geometrical staircase configurations from the perspective of reducing the risk of falling for older adults. The methodology is divided into two stages:
1) identifying the most common geometrical home staircase configurations, which include U-shape stairs, quarter turn stairs, straight stairs with landing, straight stairs without landing, helical stairs, spiral stairs, and composite stairs;
2) investigating the associated risk of falling for each geometrical staircase configuration through developing an evidence-based comparison for the proposed geometrical staircase configurations.
The output of this paper is a hierarchical listing for geometrical staircase configurations which is arranged from lowest to highest reduction in risk of falling for older adults.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation CMHC, "Preventing Falls on Stairs", retrieved 28 April 2015, original source: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/acho/acho_012.cfm
Donath, L., O. Faude, R. Roth, and L. Zahner. "Effects of stair‐climbing on balance, gait, strength, resting heart rate, and submaximal endurance in healthy seniors." Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 24, no. 2 (2014): e93-e101.
With more pronounced effects in INT2, stair-climbing significantly improved resting and exercise heart rates, perceived exertion, and dynamic balance performance in healthy seniors and may contribute to better overall fitness, reduced fall risk, and less perceived strain during daily life activities.
Gill, Thomas M., Christianna S. Williams, and Mary E. Tinetti. "Environmental hazards and the risk of nonsyncopal falls in the homes of community-living older persons." Medical care (2000): 1174-1183.
No consistent association was found between the 13 trip or slip hazards and nonsyncopal falls, even after participants were categorized by impairments in vision, balance/gait, and cognition. Conclusions. Our findings do not support an association between environmental hazards and nonsyncopal falls.
Hindmarsh, Julia J., and E. Harvey Estes. "Falls in older persons: causes and interventions." Archives of Internal Medicine 149, no. 10 (1989): 2217-2222.
Falls in older persons are an Important cause of injury, disability, and death. They are also Important as an indicator of decline in functional ability, requiring a careful assessment of contributing factors, in both the patient and the environment, with corrective intervention when possible.
A fear of falls contributes to the problem by causing inactivity and deconditioning, further increasing the danger of falls. Identification of those at high risk and those who have begun to experience falls is important, followed by a systematic evaluation for underlying disease, medication effects, unsteady gait and balance, and environmental risk factors.
Regular exercise and physical stress are also important in avoiding falls.
Irvine, C. H., S. H. Snook, and J. H. Sparshatt. "Stairway risers and treads: acceptable and preferred dimensions." Applied Ergonomics 21, no. 3 (1990): 215-225.
Stairway preference and acceptability were investigated with psychophysical techniques. A series of six experiments was conducted where subjects ascended and descended 19 sets of stairways with different riser and tread (run) dimensions. Subjects were instructed to identify stairways that they considered acceptable, and the one stairway they most preferred.
The optimum riser was 7·2 in (183 mm), and the optimum tread (run) was 11 or 12 in (279 or 300 mm). These dimensions were acceptable to both males and females, young and old, and subjects of greater or lesser stature. Larger dimensions were not as acceptable to shorter subjects, and smaller dimensions were not as acceptable to taller subjects.
The 4-in (102 mm) riser was almost totally unacceptable, and never preferred. The 5·14 and 9-in (131 and 229 mm) risers were acceptable to less than one-third of the subjects, and rarely or never preferred. These results are compared with existing practices and recommendations.
Jackson, Patricia L., and H. Harvey Cohen. "An in-depth investigation of 40 stairway accidents and the stair safety literature." Journal of Safety Research 26, no. 3 (1995): 151-159.
Each year thousands of people trip, stumble, and/or fall on stairs. This paper reviews prominent literature on stairway safety, and discusses findings from a preliminary survey of 40 in-depth stair accident cases. Variables reviewed and discussed include personal/demographic, external, and dimensional.
From these findings and those of other researchers, it is hypothesized that the greatest problem with accident stairways is not individual (i.e., user) or external variables, but dimensional inconsistency inherent in some stairways. Areas for future research are also discussed.
Kerr, Jacqueline, Jordan A. Carlson, James F. Sallis, Dori Rosenberg, Chikarlo R. Leak, Brian E. Saelens, James E. Chapman et al. "Assessing health-related resources in senior living residences." Journal of Aging Studies 25, no. 3 (2011): 206-214.
Kim, B. J. "Prevention of falls during stairway descent in older adults." Applied ergonomics 40, no. 3 (2009): 348-352.
A prospective design was applied to examine how older adults would adapt stairway intervention stimuli to gait patterns during stairway descent to prevent falls. Ambient lighting and an auditory signal were used as stairway intervention stimuli. The gait pattern changes with and without stimuli were compared.
No significant change of angular displacement was found between normal condition and intervention conditions under daylight and nightlight. The lighting intervention tended to increase the knee's angular velocity for both daylight and nightlight conditions, but not the ankle's angular velocity. However, adding the auditory signal to the lighting intervention under nightlight condition increased the ankle's angular velocity.
Under the daylight condition, every intervention was significantly helpful to make people step on the floor more confidently compared to the condition without interventions.
However, the intervention of lighting had an opposite effect on the confidence of stepping under the nightlight condition. The intervention of lighting may contribute to increase of confidence during stair descent while compromising the declined stride length in older adults and the potential “rush” factor for falls on stairs.
Kose, Satoshi. "Housing for an Ageing Society: Adapting Housing Design toward Universality is the Minimum Requirement for Inclusion." In Aging, Disability and Independence: Selected Papers from the 4 th International Conference on Aging, Disability and Independence, pp. 19-39. 2008.
Lin, Mau‐Roung, Steven L. Wolf, Hei‐Fen Hwang, Sheng‐You Gong, and Chih‐Yi Chen. "A randomized, controlled trial of fall prevention programs and quality of life in older fallers." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 55, no. 4 (2007): 499-506.
Livingston, Lori A., Joan M. Stevenson, and Sandra J. Olney. "Stairclimbing kinematics on stairs of differing dimensions." Arch Phys Med Rehabil 72, no. 6 (1991): 398-402.
Lockwood, Ian M., and John P. Braaksma. "Foot accommodation on various stair tread sizes." Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (1990): 1-12.
This study investigates the effects of changing the tread length of stairs with regards to several foot placement measurements.
The experiment utilized a helical staircase to create tread lengths varying from 203.2 mm (8") to 279.4 mm (11") with a constant riser height of 177.8 mm (7").
Six test subjects descended each of the four different tread lengths at three different speeds and wearing various types of footwear. The results were obtained through analysis of data obtained by filming the experiment and using digitizing techniques.
Marsh, Anthony P., W. Jack Rejeski, Wei Lang, Michael E. Miller, and Stephen P. Messier. "Baseline balance and functional decline in older adults with knee pain: the Observational Arthritis Study in Seniors." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 51, no. 3 (2003): 331-339.
Rosen, Tony, Karin A. Mack, and Rita K. Noonan. "Slipping and tripping: fall injuries in adults associated with rugs and carpets." [PDF] Journal of injury and violence research 5, no. 1 (2013): 61. Corresponding Author at:
Karin A. Mack: PhD, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, Tek: 770-488-4389, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mack KA.). - Retrieved 2018/08/22, original source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3591732/pdf/jivr-05-61.pdf
Abstract Excerpt: Fall injuries associated with rugs and carpets are common and may cause potentially severe injuries. Older adults, their caregivers, and emergency and primary care physicians should be aware of the significant risk for fall injuries and of environmental modifications that may reduce that risk.
Excerpt: Loose throw rugs and area carpets with curled edges or folds are among the extrinsic factors most frequently mentioned in the literature as unsafe and potentially increasing fall risk.
Research has shown that hazardous rugs and carpets may be the most common environmental hazard in the homes of older adults,25 with one study finding loose throw rugs in nearly 78% of the homes,26 curled carpet edges in more than 35%,26 an average of more than 11 rugs without nonslip backing in each home.
These hazards are even more common in homes of frail older adults with disabilities,27 who are at higher risk for falls. Evidence also exists that these flooring types may increase risk of serious fall-related injury.
Simoneau, Guy G., Peter R. Cavanagh, Jan S. Ulbrecht, Herschel W. Leibowitz, and Richard A. Tyrrell. "The influence of visual factors on fall-related kinematic variables during stair descent by older women." Journal of gerontology 46, no. 6 (1991): M188-M195.
Abstract: Despite the documented health hazards associated with stair descent, the mechanisms of falling on stairs remain relatively unexamined. The objectives of this study were to define kinematic variables that could be used to describe foot-stair spatial relationships during the mid-stair phase of stair descent, and to investigate the effects of various visual and environmental conditions on those variables in a group of 36 healthy women between the ages of 55 and 70.
Foot clearance and foot placement were measured through high-speed film analysis.
Clearance between the foot and the stair during swing phase was small under all visual conditions. Degraded visual acuity had a significant effect on cadence, foot placement, and foot clearance, but visual surround conditions did not.
The kinematic variables used in this experiment may be helpful in future studies to assess the results of interventions aimed at reducing the frequency of falls on stairs.
Stevens, Margaret, C. D'Arcy J. Holman, Nicole Bennett, and Nick De Klerk. "Preventing falls in older people: outcome evaluation of a randomized controlled trial." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 49, no. 11 (2001): 1448-1455.
Templer, John, John Archea, and H. Harveoy Chen. "Study of factors associated with risk of work-related stairway falls." Journal of safety research 16, no. 4 (1986): 183-196.
Warren, William H. "Perceiving affordances: Visual guidance of stair climbing." Journal of experimental psychology: Human perception and performance 10, no. 5 (1984): 683.
Watzke, James R., and Bryan Kemp. "Safety for older adults: The role of technology and the home environment." Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation 7, no. 4 (1992): 9-21.
Wyatt, J. P., D. Beard, and A. Busuttil. "Fatal falls down stairs." Injury 30, no. 1 (1999): 31-34.
Reader Question: how to build steps for people who have trouble climbing stairs
I am ask to build steps for an older couple, one already has a hip replacement an the other getting one done, my steps hieght is three feet an the distence is five feet they need lower risers. Can someone tell what the dimensions would be?
Reply: design the stair with a long run, deep treads, shorter rise, and secure handrailings
You can make short rise steps by making the stairway run longer.
For example if you have a total rise of five feet and you want a 3-inch step rise you'd divide (5x12=60) 60 inches by 3 inches to get 20 steps that you'd need to build to climb up five feet.
Of course you'll want to make the stair treads deeper front-to back to make such short rise steps safe and comfortable.
And secure hand railings on both sides of the stairs will be important for folks for whom stairs are difficult.
Watch out: when making stair treads "deeper" - that's increasing the distance from the stair tread nose to the stair riser - you need to avoid creating a halting-walk stairway trip and fall hazard. Simply making an 11-inch deep tread into an 18" deep tread in order to reduce the stair riser height can actually (in my OPINION) increase the risk of falling by making the foot placement difficult when descending the stairs. In that case the treads need to be deep enough to avoid a "halting walking step."
Home Inspection Education Home Study Courses - ASHI@Home Training 10-course program. Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Home Reference Book, a reference & inspection report product for building owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Home Reference eBook, an electronic version for PCs, the iPad, iPhone, & Android smart phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter inspectaehrb in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones.
Eric Galow, Galow Homes, Lagrangeville, NY. Mr. Galow can be reached by email: email@example.com or by telephone: 914-474-6613. Mr. Galow specializes in residential construction including both new homes and repairs, renovations, and additions.
 "The Elimination of Unsafe Guardrails, a Progress Report," Elliott O. Stephenson, Building Standards, March-April 1993
 "Are Functional Handrails Within Our Grasp" Jake Pauls, Building Standards, January-February 1991
 Access Ramp building codes:
 Access Ramp Standards:
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), Public Law 101-336. 7/26/90 is very often cited by other sources for good design of stairs and ramps etc. even where disabled individuals are not the design target.
ANSI A117.4 Accessible and Usable buildings and Facilities (earlier version was incorporated into the ADA)
ASTM F 1637, Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces, (Similar to the above standard
 Falls and Related Injuries: Slips, Trips, Missteps, and Their Consequences, Lawyers & Judges Publishing, (June 2002), ISBN-10: 0913875430 ISBN-13: 978-0913875438 "Falls in the home and public places are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States, but are overlooked in most literature. This book is unique in that it is entirely devoted to falls. Of use to primary care physicians, nurses, insurance adjusters, architects, writers of building codes, attorneys, or anyone who cares for the elderly, this book will tell you how, why, and when people will likely fall, what most likely will be injured, and how such injuries come about. "
 The National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST (nee National Bureau of Standards NBS) is a US government agency - see www.nist.gov
"A Parametric Study of Wall Moisture Contents Using a Revised Variable Indoor Relative Humidity Version of the "Moist" Transient Heat and Moisture Transfer Model [copy on file as/interiors/MOIST_Model_NIST_b95074.pdf ] - ", George Tsongas, Doug Burch, Carolyn Roos, Malcom Cunningham; this paper describes software and the prediction of wall moisture contents. - PDF Document from NIS
 Slips, Trips, Missteps and Their Consequences, Second Edition, Gary M. Bakken, H. Harvey Cohen,A. S. Hyde, Jon R. Abele, ISBN-13: 978-1-933264-01-1 or
ISBN 10: 1-933264-01-2,
available from the publisher, Lawyers ^ Judges Publishing Company,Inc., www.lawyersandjudges.com firstname.lastname@example.org and also from the InspectAPedia Bookstore (Amazon.com)
 The Stairway Manufacturers' Association, (877) 500-5759, provides a pictorial guide to the stair and railing portion of the International Residential Code. [copy on file as http://www.stairways.org/pdf/2006%20Stair%20IRC%20SCREEN.pdf ] -
 Mold-Resistant Building Practices, advice from an expert on how to prevent mold after a building flood and how to prevent mold growth in buildings by selection of building materials and by anti-mold construction details.
 "The Dimensions of Stairs", J. M. Fitch et al., Scientific American, October 1974.
 Stair & Walkway Standards for Slipperiness or Coefficient of Friction (COF) or Static Coefficient of Friction (SCOF)
ASTM D-21, and ASTM D2047
UL-410 (similar to ASTM D-21)
NSFI 101-B (National Floor Safety Institute)
NSFI Walkway Auditing Guideline (WAG) Ref. 101-A& 101-B (may appear as ANSI B101.0) sets rules for measuring walkway slip resist
OSHA - (Dept of Labor CFR 1910.22 does not specify COF and pertains to workplaces) but recognizes the need for a "qualified person" to evaluate walkway slipperiness
ADA (relies on the ANSI and ASTM standards)
 A. Sacher, International Symposium on Slip Resistance: The Interface of Man, Footwear, and Walking Surfaces, Journal of Testing and Evaluation (JTE), ISSN: 1945-7553, January 1997 [more focused on slipperiness of polished surfaces
 Algae is widely recognized as a slippery surface - a Google web search for "how slippery is algae on steps" produced more than 15,000 results on 8/29/12)
 Slipperiness of algae on walking surfaces, warning, Royal Horticultural Society, retrieved 8/29/2012, original source: http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?pid=418
 Slipperiness of algae: "Watch your step, wet rocks and algae are slippery" Oregon State University warning 1977 retrieved 8/29/2012, original source: http://www.worldcat.org/title/watch-your-step-wet-rocks-and-algae-are-slippery/oclc/663683915
 Coefficient of friction of algae on surfaces [like stair treads]: Delphine Gourdon, Qi Lin, Emin Oroudjev, Helen Hansma, Yuval Golan, Shoshana Arad, and Jacob Israelachvili, "Adhesion and Stable Low Friction Provided by a Subnanometer-Thick Monolayer of a Natural Polysaccharide", Langmuir, 2008 pp 1534-1540, American Chemical Society,
retrieved 8/29/2012, Abstract: Using a surface forces apparatus, we have investigated the adhesive and lubrication forces of mica surfaces separated by a molecularly thin, subnanometer film of a high-molecular-weight (2.3 MDa) anionic polysaccharide from the algae Porphyridium sp. adsorbed from aqueous solution. The adhesion and friction forces of the confined biopolymer were monitored as a function of time, shearing distance, and driving velocity under a large range of compressive loads (pressures). Although the thickness of the dilute polysaccharide was < 1 nm, the friction was low (coefficient of friction = 0.015), and no wear was ever observed even at a pressure of 110 atm over 3 decades of velocity, so long as the shearing distances were less than twice the contact diameter. Atomic force microscopy in solution shows that the biopolymer is able to adsorb to the mica surface but remains mobile and easily dragged upon shearing. The adhesion (adsorption) of this polysaccharide even to negatively charged surfaces, its stable low friction, its robustness (high-load carrying capacity and good wear protection), and the weak (logarithmic) dependence of the friction force on the sliding velocity make this class of polyelectrolytes excellent candidates for use in water-based lubricant fluids and as potential additives to synovial fluid in joints and other biolubricating fluids. The physical reasons for the remarkable tribological properties of the ultrathin polysaccharide monolayer are discussed and appear to be quite different from those of other polyelectrolytes and proteins that act as thick “polymer brush” layers.
 Jason R. Stokes, Lubica Macakova, Agnieszka Chojnicka-Paszun, Cornelis G. de Kruif, and Harmen H. J. de Jongh, "Lubrication, Adsorption, and Rheology of Aqueous Polysaccharide Solutions, Langmuir 2011 27 (7), 3474-3484
 "Coefficients of Friction for Ice", The Physics Factbook™, Glenn Elert, Ed., retrieved 8/29/12, original source: http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2004/GennaAbleman.shtml
 "Coefficients of Friction for Ice", The University of the State of New York Reference Tables for Physical Setting/Physics. New York: The State Education Department, 2002. Op. Cit.
 Serway Physics for Scientists and Engineers 4th edition (p. 126.)
 "How Slippery Is It", retrieved 8/29/12, original source http://www.icebike.org/Articles/howslippery.htm
 John E. Hunter, "Friction Values", The Source, Society of Accident Reconstructionists, Winter 1998. Study of frictional values of car tires involved in collisions on snow or ice covered roadways.
 Frictional Coefficients of some Common Materials and Materials Combinations, The Engineering Toolbox, retrieved 8/29/2012, original source: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/friction-coefficients-d_778.html [copy on file as Friction and Coefficients of Friction.pdf ]
 Stairways and Ladders, A Guide to OSHA Rules, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 3124-12R 2003 - Web Search 05/28/2010 original source: http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3124.pdf. OSHA regulations govern standards in the construction industry and in the workforce Quoting from OSHA whose focus is on workplace safety and so excludes discussion of falls and stair-falls in private homes:
OSHA estimates that there are 24,882 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities per year due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction. Nearly half of these injuries are serious enough to require time off the job--11,570 lost workday injuries and 13,312 non-lost workday injuries occur annually due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction. These data demonstrate that work on and around ladders and stairways is hazardous. More importantly, they show that compliance with OSHA's requirements for the safe use of ladders and stairways could have prevented many of these injuries. -osha.gov/doc/outreachtraining/htmlfiles/stairlad.html
 International Building Code, Stairway Provisions, Section 1009: Stairways and Handrails, retrieved 8/29/12, original source: http://www.amezz.com/ibc-stairs-code.htm [copy on file as IBC Stairs Code.pdf]
 Model Building Code, Chapter 10, Means of Egress, retrieved 8/29/12, original source: http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/newjersey/NJ_Building/PDFs/NJ_Bldg_Chapter10.pdf, [copy on file as NJ_Bldg_Chapter10.pdf] adopted, for example by New Jersey. International Code Council, 500 New Jersey Avenue, NW, 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20001, Tel: 800-786-4452
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones