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Stairway Accidents and Egress Obstructions

by Zoe Gaik

Architectural Forensic Associate

RGA Design Forensics

Sometimes the issue on stairs is not related to disuniformity or handrail graspability. If your stair in question is part of a means of egress, it is required to unobstructed and unimpeded at all times.

A means of egress is defined within Chapter 3 of NFPA 101 as "[a] continuous and unobstructed way of travel from any point in a building or structure to a public way, consisting of three separate and distinct parts: (1) the exit access, (2) the exit, (3) the exit discharge." Egress stairs are the only building components that can be any one of the three parts.

Two ways you can determine whether your stair is a part of a means of egress are:

  • Is there an exit sign above the stair on levels 2 and above?

  • Does the life safety plan show this stair as being an egress?

Once you figure out that your stair is part of a means of egress, you can determine whether there are or were any obstructions or impediments on said stair. Some of these may be:

  • A nail sticking out of the tread

  • Trash or debris on the stair

  • Poorly affixed tread nosing

  • Excessive slipperiness (calculated by a coefficient of friction test)

Give us a call to talk about the specifics of your case at (813) 226-2220 or visit our website at for more information.


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