Yesterday, during the second-reading of the Government’s Building Safety Bill, Conservative MP Paul Maynard called for an amendment in support of RoSPA’s safer stairs campaign, which will save countless lives if it is brought into law.
RoSPA is campaigning for the most up to date British Safety Standard for stairs (BS 5395-1) to be mandated for new build homes. The campaign is being backed by private and social builders, as well as housing industry organisations, a cross party coalition of MPs and members of the House of Lords.
The momentum behind this campaign reflects the seriousness of the issue. Every year, 700 people die from falling on the stairs, and for every one hospital admission caused by a burn there are 235 caused by a fall. Stairs built to the British Standard reduce falls by an incredible 60%, meaning the majority of these falls could be avoided.
With the safety of stairs clearly a priority, RoSPA is asking for an amendment to the Building Safety Bill which would enshrine BS 5395-1 in law from 2024.
The British Standard 5395-1 considers the dimensions of the stairs; their slip resistance and the provision of handrails, and has been a recommended building regulation since 2010. It is based on 15 years of research conducted by the Building Research Establishment. The standard looks at the key safety factors that should be taken into account during the structural design of stairs, including the step dimensions.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Paul Maynard MP, (Blackpool North and Cleveleys), said: “For every one hospital admission due to a burn, there are 235 caused by falls. The impact of these falls is felt disproportionately by older people, and even when a fall is not fatal, it is often the first stage of a persistent decline.
“Falls create fear, they impact on confidence and wellbeing, and lead to people being moved out of their homes and into care homes, in many cases never to return.
“There is an existing industry standard – British Standard 5395-1 – regarding how stairs should be constructed, including rules on the dimensions of stairs and handrails. I have written to the Building Safety Minister asking for the Building Safety Bill to include a mandate for the British Standard to be applied in all new-build homes.”
RoSPA’s campaign to enshrine BS 5395-1 into law as a prerequisite for any homes built after 2024, has attracted support from across the political spectrum with representatives of the Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour Parties backing the move. The campaign has also received support from house builders in the private and social sectors.
The law would only apply to new build properties and therefore would not require costly retrofitting in existing homes. The BS 5395-1 standard could be ‘baked in’ at the design stage at no extra cost to the developer but would help reduce falls in the home.
Errol Taylor, Chief Executive of RoSPA said: “Falling on the stairs is a hidden killer, but improving the safety standards for stair design will significantly reduce the number of people needlessly dying and getting hurt. Compliance to BS 5395-1 by 2024 is commercially viable, evidence-based, and straightforward to implement.
“It is estimated that stairs built to the British Standard in new build homes result in 60% fewer falls and would therefore help reduce the £4.4billion annual cost to the NHS of falls in the home.
“RoSPA welcomes the growing support from the housing industry and politicians of all stripes for this low-cost, high-impact measure to make the homes of the future safer”.