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Unlocking office Stairwells: A Resource for Property Owners, Building Managers, and Tenants


Building owners and managers sometimes keep stairwells locked because of concern about liability for injuries – but our research finds that accessible stairwells appear to pose no more legal risk than other common areas within a building. Owners should already be maintaining stairwells for use during emergencies. So long as reasonable care is taken, opening stairwells for use by employees or the public is not likely to lead to any significant increase in risk for building owners, managers, or tenants.

This fact sheet explores some of the risks and benefits associated with unlocking stairwells for physical activity. For a more in-depth legal analysis, see www.phlpnet.org.

Primary Toolkit:

Chronic Disease Prevention Toolkit

Keyword Area:

Chronic Disease, Obesity, Physical Activity


Institutional Author:

Us Public Health Law & Policy




The NACCHO Toolbox is a repository of available resources to help local public health practitioners. Tools are produced by local, state, and federal agencies, as well as academic institutions and other stakeholders. The contents of this Toolbox are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect any official recommendations of NACCHO. NACCHO makes no express or implied warranty with respect to the contents and disclaims liability for any damages arising from or connected to the use of the material in this Toolbox.