I recently represented an older gentleman seriously injured as a result of a fall down a single step. This case highlighted a hidden danger that we all encounter on a regular basis. Although a fall down a single step may seem innocent enough, sometimes it can cause significant injury and consequence.
During the walking process we go through a complex set of actions all requiring balance. As one moves forward we rely on our perceptive input regarding where the floor surface is located. Walking accidents can take place for a number of reasons including changes in elevation that are not perceived. If a walking surface has a change in elevation however slight and the walker does not perceive the change there is a strong possibility that there will be an accidental fall.
Steps are sometimes located where they may not be noticed. According to “The Staircase, Studies of Hazards, Falls and Safer Design” written by John Templer, “The single step within a walkway, a passage, or in the form of a display area platform in a store is common and particularly hazardous. The danger is that the step may not be clearly seen because the light is poor, or even if there is plenty of light, the step may visually merge with the walkway.”
Almost all relevant safety codes call for contrasting striping or some visual cue at the edge of single steps so that they are more noticeable to people because of the significant chance that the higher level will blend with the lower level making it look to the walker like it is one single level with no change in elevation. Unfortunately this important safety mechanism is not always followed and when it is not can lead to serious consequences as it did in my case.
We can not always rely on appropriate safety protocols being followed and therefore on a regular basis we encounter dangerous situations. So always do your best to be careful at all times and Watch Your Step!