What wrong in this picture.? A Halloween Horror? Tread Trickery?

halloween walk way

Do you think this is an inviting Halloween walkway?

It’s actually the morning after Halloween but can you spot the 8 safety concerns here?

No I’m not talking about the absence of handrails or the disrepair and neglected landscaping around the walkway though those improvements would be recommended.

Neither am I talking about the soil that has slumped or eroded away from under the original pair of steps ‘hanging’ on the house. All the concrete is in good shape. The surfaces are good. There are no cracks. And everything is level.

So can you spot them?……..


Maybe not…………..


So visualize walking them………….


A ha!……

Every, and I mean EVERY step is a different height and a different depth (measuring front to back). Every riser is a different height! And every tread is a different length!

 So what happens when you walk it? You’ll stumble, you’ll adjust, you might over compensate a little. But you could fall or turn an ankle or worse. That is in the daylight. Imagine what it’s like a night. Quite the Halloween trick – something’s’ off, a little wrong, but you don’t know what it is…spooky!

 I’d put up a temporary handrail on both sides, until corrections could be made. If you lived here you could get used to it but it would always feel wrong.

 Stairs are to be made a certain way.  There is a formula for it that carpenters, builders and architects use. There are variations. They are not all the same, especially outdoors. But one thing will be the same. Every set or flight of stairs will be even and groups or runs of flights separated by landings or walks will be even.

That means in that set all risers and tread runs will be identical. You adjust to it, its rhythmic. You go up and down the stairs automatically with out thinking about it. We all do it, even running.

But one odd riser can send us for a spill. Here you can’t adjust. There’s no rhythm. It’s just wrong.

The young, the old, the pregnant, the ill and inebriated will have difficulty and we’ll all fit most of those categories sooner or later. 

N.B. Home owners and contractors who install new floors with out planning for the change in height of the floor risk creating trip hazards at the tops and bottoms of the stairs. The floor may have to be adjusted near the stair.



Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post