Stairway Falls

A stairway is an architectural element used by people to change levels, oftentimes in and around buildings and structures. Research has shown that stairway falls during use results from three inter-related factors – the user, the stairs, and its environment of use. Human failure modes during stair use may include trips, slips, and missteps in descent or ascent, as well as walking on stairs after failing to notice them altogether.

Historically, stairway falls are particularly costly in terms of injury and monetary expenses to society. In the United States, the design and construction of stairs is governed by the International Building Code. Voluntary consensus standards by organizations such as the American National Standards Institute and National Fire Protection Agency may also apply.

Examples of issues we address pertaining to stairway falls:
Coefficient of friction
Risers and treads
Visual Cues
Irregular stairs
A partial list of example settings:

  • Apartments
  • Airports
  • Aircraft
  • Condominiums
  • Hotels
  • Residences
  • Hospitals
  • Retail
  • Museum
  • Industrial stairs
  • Maritime stairs


Joe Cohen (partial list)

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), Psychology (1997), University of California, Riverside
  • Master of Arts (MA), Psychology, Human Factors and Applied-Experimental option (2000), California State University, Northridge
  • Master of Science (MS), Industrial-Organizational Psychology (2005), Alliant International University, San Diego
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Industrial-Organizational Psychology, industrial emphasis track (2009), Alliant International University, San Diego
  • Certified Human Factors Professional, Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics
  • Certified Hazard Control Manager, International Board for Certification Services Management
  • Certified XL Tribometrist, Excel Tribometers, LLC
  • Member, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Safety Technical Group, Forensics Professional Technical Group
  • Member, American Society of Safety Professionals
  • Member, ASTM International
  • Member, International Code Council
  • Associate Editor, Ergonomics in Design, Sage Publications (2014-2018)

Mailing Address

Error Analysis, Inc.
5173 Waring Road, Suite 157
San Diego, CA 92120-2705


Office Location (No Mail)

Grossmont Professional Building
9001 Grossmont Boulevard, Suite 603
La Mesa, CA 91941


(Direct all inquiries and mail to the Waring Road address)