Safety on Steps (SOS): a randomised controlled trial


Injuries arising from falls on steps leading to New Zealand homes present a major health burden. A randomised controlled trial (the HIPI study) that tested a range of home modifications to increase safety found that the combined safety effect on home falls was around 26%. The SOS study builds on the findings of the HIPI study by focusing in on particular modifications. The goal of this project is to provide robust causal evidence to motivate and support cost-effective remediation of NZ home fall hazards that are common in New Zealand housing.


We are aiming to quantify the safety benefits in terms of reductions of injuries from falls of installing handrails and edgings for steps on access steps to homes.


The design is a randomised controlled trial. We will first build a database (a sampling frame) by taking photographs of access steps without handrails in the Wellington Region and in New Plymouth. Some houses will later be randomly chosen to have handrails and high-visibility edgings installed for free, with the owner’s consent. Letters will be sent to addresses that are randomly selected later in 2015 inviting people to participate.

Potential Benefits

The potential benefits of the study include reducing the burden of injury in the home, a burden that has been growing in recent years. Participants who receive repairs will improve their own houses and increase the value of the homes. Hospitals, GPs and other practitioners providing medical/dental treatment for injuries in the home will have a reduced workload.

HIPI Supporters

The study is funded by the Health Research Council.
For more information, contact Project Manager, Dr Michael Keall.