As housebuilders, we put enormous focus on safety during the construction of our homes, and rightly so. But it is shocking to realise that the death toll from falls on stairs in the home claim the lives of over 700 people in the UK each year compared to the 39 deaths recorded on construction sites last year. This is particularly so in more deprived areas where falls are more common.
As an organisation which puts the wellbeing of our customers at the heart of everything we do, we believe it is absolutely our duty to do all we can to prevent further loss of life. That is why we fully support the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Safer Stairs campaign, which calls for an amendment to the Building Safety Bill to make British Standard 5395-1 law from 2024.
Everyone should have the right to be safe in their home and I’m pleased to see the swell of support for the campaign increasing, with Conservative MP Paul Maynard earlier this week calling for it to be incorporated as an amendment to the Building Safety Bill.
RoSPA’s Safer Stairs is part of RoSPA’s Safer by Design framework, which highlights simple, low-cost design changes which can make the home physically safer by eradicating risks. The British Standard 5395-1 is a crucial aspect to this, setting out a code of good practice for the design of stairs and steps, and defining best-practice dimensions as well as durability and materials, and I am proud that we have made the commitment to design our future homes in accordance with it.
This continues the work we’ve already done through the successful matching of our new house designs against the RoSPA framework and its adoption within our new Design Standards. By making the commitment that all new our homes will be built to the Safer by Design Gold Standard, a brand-new home from Orbit will be amongst the safest on the UK market, and I am so proud of this.
But we need to do more. Because, if we can take this further and make the British Standard 5395-1 law as part of the Building Safety Bill, we can ensure all new houses are built to this Standard, cutting falls by an estimated 60%, reducing injury and saving lives. And surely we have a moral imperative to do so.