Stair Safety: Are Stair Nosings a Legal Australian Requirement?

Stair nosings are visibility-enhancing aids that provide a non-slip surface that can keep people safe while going up and down a staircase. 

As a builder, designer, or architect, you might be asking, “do I need stair nosings?”

Let’s look at the stair safety rules from the Building Code of Australia so you can understand the laws and how to comply with your new construction.

Are Stair Nosings a Legal Requirement?

Here are the rules according to the National Construction Code, Volume 1:

  • All public access staircases must have 90-degree stair nosings
  • The stair nosings must have a fully non-slip horizontal surface
  • The minimum measurements for stair nosings are 50mm wide and 10 mm deep
  • They must have a luminance contrast of at least 30% to the surface

What do these rules mean for designers, architects, and builders? Simply put, it means that the Australian government takes safety very seriously, and it’s essential to comply with the rules for your building to be up to code.

Let’s look at why these rules are in place. 

Stair Nosings for Stair Safety

Why are these rules taken so seriously? Stair accidents can cause severe injuries, and most accidents result from faulty construction. Luckily, slips, trips, and falls can be reduced and entirely prevented by complying with the government’s safety rules.

Stair accidents can also lead to tough legal battles. Building owners are held responsible by the Australian courts for a duty-of-care to workers and members of the public that access the building.

Stair accident injuries can range from bruises and cuts to fractures, broken bones, and more severe consequences. It’s a much better idea to build the stairs for optimum safety in the beginning, to avoid lawsuits later.

According to WorkSafe Australia, between 2003-2015, slips, trips, and falls accounted for:

  • 386 worker deaths
  • 23% of serious claims
  • Were a result of environmental factors, including poor design, 56% of the time

Who Needs Stair Safety?

Stair safety is vital for everyone, as anyone at any age can fall down the stairs. However, it especially matters for those with disabilities.

In 2016, it was estimated that there were 384,000 people in Australia living with legal blindness. That number is projected to rise to 564,000 by 2030. People with vision impairments must feel safe using stairs in all public access areas, and stair nosings help increase visibility.  

Elderly populations are also more at risk of falling. In fact, falls are the most common type of injury-related deaths for people ages 65 and over.

Keeping these risks in mind is crucial when you’re designing a new building. Luckily, there are many innovative solutions to make stair safety work with your design. 

Safety First

The design process is fun, challenging, and exciting. However, it is essential not to overlook stair safety. Now that you know that stair nosings are a legal requirement and have these stair safety tips, you can incorporate them into your design elegantly and innovatively.

Stair nosings can help building owners avoid legal battles, prevent injuries, and even save lives

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