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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Letters

Mark the edge of steps in buildings

As I face the prospect of Christmas in hospital with a knee in plaster, may I appeal to architects and builders - and to the managers of apartments and offices, clubs and schools - to pay attention to the hazard of unmarked steps? I have had sessions with the managers of hotels in various parts of Asia where I have gone on holiday and, like most people, they have all professed ignorance of this aspect of 'health and safety' which, in many such countries, is not much of a priority anyway…

Many elderly people have bi-focal glasses, that is, glasses in which the top part is to correct long-sight and the bottom part is for reading. Thus, when you look down at your feet to check where you are walking, you do not see them very clearly as you are looking through your 'reading glasses'.

Hence the importance of marking steps clearly and the hazards of walking on pavements etc. when the surface is rough. May I remind your readers, sir, that the days are gone in which elderly people are few because they are expected to die earlier, or not to go out very much as they should be at home, sitting in a corner in the sitting room and, in the case of women, doing domestic work.

May I appeal to everyone to be more aware of this issue? A tin of white (or in some cases black) paint to mark the edge of the step can be effective or, for a longer term solution, an 'edge' (maybe of some plastic material) can be screwed in. Designers of buildings can signal changes of level by using different materials.

In more developed countries, I could sue the club where my accident happened for a great deal of money. This threat looms over developing countries also, which could increase awareness wonderfully - not least that of elderly people who are waking up to their 'human right' to live an active life without such dangers.

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