The British Woodworking Federation Group

PRESS RELEASE: A stairway across the Atlantic – British stair scheme links up with its U.S. counterpart

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Stair manufacturers in the UK and United States have signed an important agreement to collaborate on innovation and technology, technical standards, operational efficiency and best practice.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the British Woodworking Federation’s Stair Scheme and the Stairways Manufacturing Association (SMA) in America will see both organisations signing a reciprocal membership agreement to facilitate the exchange of information.

Items for discussion will include market research relating to staircase performance and safety, updates on standards and regulations, environmental matters, developments in accreditation, certification and codes of conduct, event ideas and publications.

Iain McIlwee, BWF chief executive, says:

“Stairs remain one of the most common areas for accidents with over 800 recorded deaths attributed to slips, trips and falls on staircases every year in the UK. Unfortunately, many of these problems are caused by faulty stair design or installation, and often from the use of inferior products. 

“BWF members continue to report problems in the staircase market which undermine them as quality manufacturers. We hope that, by joining forces with the most reputable firms in the U.S. represented by the SMA, we can form a long-term cooperative relationship and collaborate on new initiatives to grow and strengthen the market for high quality, third-party certificated stairs.”

Dave Cooper, executive director of the SMA, says:

“The BWF Stair Scheme has taken a strong lead in the UK to ensure higher standards and greater customer confidence in timber stairs. These efforts are harmonious with the benefits of SMA Code and Stair Design Education and Certification programs in the US.  We are very pleased to be working with the BWF and see this collaboration helping us to fulfil the SMA’s mission to provide the greatest resource of knowledge and tools contributing to the success of our members and the American stair industry.”

The BWF Stair Scheme is the only accreditation and certification scheme of its kind in the UK. It was established in 2011 to raise awareness of timber stair standards, to give recognition to high quality stairs and to improve safety. Ranging from domestic, common and fire protected common stairs, the standard expected of the manufacturers for their stairs is extremely high to ensure quality and safety.

The BWF Stair Scheme now represents approximately 70% of the UK timber stair market, bringing together like-minded manufacturers committed to driving up standards to make the industry more competitive against rival materials and to increase market share.

The USA’s Stairway Manufacturers’ Association was officially formed in 1988 to ensure the growth and prosperity of its stair industry and craft. The SMA has grown to include stair part manufacturers, stair builders, installers, millwork distributors and related ancillary businesses that support the stairway industry.

The SMA has funded extensive research and testing contributing to stairway and handrail safety and successfully led proactive reform of the USA’s building codes making stairways safer while preserving the aesthetics of the staircase as an architectural element.

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