In general, an unexplained fall on stairs is not compensable. The injured worker must be able point to the reason for the fall. For example, were the stairs wet? Was the injured worker rushing to get something done? Was she carrying a box that obstructed her view and caused her to miss a step? Was there a defect in the stairs?
Consider the case of Marion Correctional Treatment Center v. Henderson, 20 Va. App. 477 (1995). Officer Henderson was a correctional officer whose job included watching the tower guards as he descended steps at the facility. He had just acknowledged the guard at tower two when his slipped and fell. The Court of Appeals determined that Henderson’s job required him to watch the guard as opposed to the steps. Therefore, way he performed his job increased the risk of a fall and directly contributed to cause his fall.