Escalator barriers not money for old rope

Most of us take the humble escalator for granted. However, accidents can and do happen, unless those who manage them plan regular maintenance and the public is kept safely separated from escalators that are out of action.

Sean Canty, Director at CAM Specialist Support, explained: “The most common types of accidents are slips, trips and falls, but there can be much more serious repercussions from poorly maintained escalators, unsafe repair procedures and uncontrolled access when the moving stairs are not in service. In Beijing earlier this year, 31-year-old Xiang Liujuan tragically lost her life when a metal panel collapsed under her feet and she fell into the gap. A problem with the escalator had already been identified, but no action had been taken to rectify the situation. The accident was a rare, but sadly not unique, occurrence.

“Although apparently harmless, stationary escalators can be a hazard. Escalators are designed to be used while moving and the step size alters as they rotate. When stationary, the steps are uneven and can become a trip hazard that is exacerbated by people walking at different speeds and potentially bumping into each other. Unless there is no alternative, public access should be restricted and proper barriers put in place. Roping or taping off an out of use escalator is not sufficient, as all too often people will bypass such temporary measures.

“A further danger is overloading. Escalator weight limits can be exceeded if too many people get on at once; a particular problem if they are using it as a viewing point for an activity taking place below, such as Christmas lights being switched on or a Santa’s grotto. Often managers will think it’s safer to stop an escalator at busy periods, but this can actually make matters worse if people crowd on to them. Secure barriers should always be used to keep people safe.”

Working with the centre management team, CAM Specialist Support recently designed and installed bespoke barriers (pictured above) which can be secured across the escalators at Peacocks Shopping Centre, Woking, to prevent access when the escalators are out of service.

Anyone who manages an escalator should ensure they get advice from experts to ensure that people are kept safely away during any required maintenance.