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Make handrails for stairs and steps mandatory

This will prevent any unforeseen mishaps and would be in the best interests of the people

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A fall from the stairs or steps in any private building or a public place could lead to serious injury.

For senior citizens, pregnant woman and the disabled, a slip, trip or fall could cause a more serious injury. It would take a long time to recuperate after a fall.

In workplaces, most people use lifts daily, but some prefer to use the stairs as a form of exercise. It may look like a relaxing task, but it can be risky if there are no handrails for support when using the stairs – more so, when walking quickly.

Ironically, the safer we feel carrying out an activity, the more we ignore the risks. Repetitive activity could lead to perilous actions that could cause injury when least expected. Accidents at workplace staircases or steps occur when people fail to concentrate while walking.

Usually, people fall when they are in a rush and are not watching their step. It could be they are using their mobile phones or are otherwise distracted. Most fail to realise they should concentrate and avoid interruptions or distractions when using the stairs.

All staircases in public buildings should have a handrail which users can hold on to for support. Such a safety measure should be mandatory for all staircases and steps in private buildings and public places.

People of all ages should take the following precautions when using the stairs:

  • Always hold on to handrails when using the stairs
  • Be mindful of the surface condition of the steps; look out especially for puddles of water
  • Keep steps and staircases clean and free of rubbish and anything that could be slippery
  • Place a sign near steps and staircases for a few hours after they have been washed
  • Take one step at a time when using the stairs
  •  Avoid distractions like eating, drinking or using the mobile phone when you use the stairs
  • Don’t walk too fast or run or throw caution to the wind when using the stairs
  • Teach children the correct ways to use the stairs

Companies should ensure workplace staircases are safe. Employees should alert management to any unsafe issues or potential hazards noticed on or near steps and staircases.

The safety officer or any other officer in a company should:

  • Inspect steps and staircases for irregularities such as missing steps, loose handrails, corrosion, holes, grease, spills or loose carpeting or rugs
  • Watch out for doors opening on staircase landings
  • Ensure there is sufficient lighting at staircases and steps
  • Ensure that emergency doors are within easy reach
  • Alert management to issues along staircases or steps

The authorities managing public places and business enterprises should ensure that there are handrails along flights of stairs, even if it is just a few stairs or steps.

Once, I fell down on these steps in front of Jalan Ara in Lucky Gardens, Bangsar, after a heavy downpour. Luckily, I was not injured.

In fact, when the stairs were being constructed, I told the city hall officer supervising the work about the need for handrails, and she agreed with me. Regrettably, my concern fell on deaf ears.

Besides this place, two other places with steps require handrails: the steps facing Persiaran Ara Kiri and the other facing Cenderai Road, both in Lucky Gardens.

I informed Kuala Lumpur City Hall about these hazard spots and why handrails were needed, but no action has been taken.

Now and then, I see senior citizens finding it difficult to use the steps at these three locations. Surely, we don’t want a mishap to happen before taking remedial action, do we?

The other day I told a restaurant owner in Lucky Gardens to put handrails on the steps leading to her restaurant, as it can be dangerous after a heavy downpour or after they wash the place.

She told me she would do it if city hall had no objections.

I told her I would inform city hall to give her the green light to place handrails, which I then did.

Local councils all over the country must ensure that all public places and private building have handrails for their steps and staircases even if it is just for a few steps or stairs. Council officers should go around to all places under their jurisdiction to ensure that all the steps and stairs have handrails. Also check on the maintenance of these handrails.

By-laws should be enacted to make it mandatory for handrails for all steps in public buildings and public places. This will prevent any unforeseen mishaps and would be in the best interests of the people, especially senior citizens, the disabled and pregnant women.

Nobody likes to see another person falling down from steps or stairs in a private building or public place just because there were no handrails. While there is no way to completely eliminate accidents, we definitely can take steps to reduce their likelihood.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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10 Feb 2023 2.51pm

An excellent idea As a very senior citizen (in Malaysia ‘elderly’ is 50+ ) & Ian 80 I really appreciate the availability of handrails as a safety provision against falling down stairs)

Mildred Lopez
Mildred Lopez
10 Feb 2023 1.31pm

How thoughtful a suggestion this is for mandatory handrails. This should be the case even for churches and temples where there are staircases even inside the building.

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