The Danger of Escalators

Safety First - The Cooper Firm

The Danger of Escalators

Although the number of escalators is significantly less than the number of elevators, there are still about 33,000 operating in the United States. While injuries can occur on both, they happen about 15 times more frequently on escalators. The most common types of injures are due to entrapment and falls.

Falls on and over escalators account for three-quarters of all escalator injuries. Many people fall on escalators due to contact with another passenger, inappropriate footwear, and/or balance and coordination issues. Falling over the handrails is often tied to misuse or attempting to ride by sitting on the handrail, passengers leaning over too far, or even accidentally dropping a child who was being carried.

Escalators are manufactured under a set of voluntary standards developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Many believe that the standards should be made mandatory. Parents Scott and Diana Anderson petitioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to develop mandatory standards in 1997 after their four-year-old son suffered serious injuries to his foot when his shoe got caught between an escalator sidewall and the moving steps. It resulted in the young boy’s toes being amputated.

The Andersons wanted a mandatory standard aimed at reducing the gap between the moving stairwell and the wall. The petition was eventually rejected in 2000 because it would cause ASME and the industry to pass amendments to the existing standard that would resolve the entrapment issue.

There have still been no mandatory standards set, but the design and inspection amendment has been adjusted periodically.

To avoid an accident from happening there are safety guidelines that you can follow when entering, riding, and exiting escalators. When entering an escalator it is important to watch the direction of the moving stair and step on carefully. If you have a child with you be sure to hold their arm or hand to help them board. Do not try and go in the opposite direction of the escalator. Also, leave one hand available to hold the guardrail if you are carrying packages.

When riding the escalator keep loose clothing clear of the steps and sides. It is important that you are also wearing close toed shoes. Do not lean on the handrails and make sure to face forward so that you know when you need to get off.

Don’t hesitate when stepping off an escalator, and do not let your feet slide off the end over the combs. Once you are off immediately clear the area.

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