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Escalator Dangers & Safety

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, December 08, 2008 10:53 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, Defective Products, Property Owner's Liability, Escalator Injury, Crocs, Child Safety & Children's Products


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhoto / escalator / author: Rhyman007

People are injured on metro Atlanta escalators several times a week. While only a handful of cases involve disfiguring entrapments, several escalator riders suffer serious injuries when their luggage or clothing becomes entangled or they fall on the machinery.

In one such case, Caprice Robinson was injured on an escalator last summer at the Kensington MARTA station. She stepped onto the escalator and grabbed her mom’s hand, like any other day. But, within seconds, Caprice began to scream in pain.

Her pink spongy shoe was sucked into the gap at the side of the moving metal stairs. They were near the bottom, before the escalator finally stopped. Fire Department rescuers had to disengage the escalator to release Caprice’s right foot.

“Most accidents are usually rider-related, not due to equipment failure,” said Earl Everett, director of safety engineering at the Georgia Department of Labor which oversees licenses and inspects escalators and moving walkways.

The CPSC estimates that nearly 11,000 people were treated in hospitals in 2007 for injuries from escalators, mostly falls. The average escalator carries 90 billion riders each year, according to agency estimates.

In July, a Louisville, Kentucky mother sued the manufacturer of Crocs shoes for the injuries her 3-year-old daughter sustained when her foot was caught in an escalator at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

The Atlanta-Journal looked over 140 injury reports filed with state regulators by operators of Atlanta-area escalators during the first half of 2008.

Most accidents involved adults falling after losing their balance/tripping or misjudging a step. Some got scrapes while other riders had knees and elbows that swelled and other injuries that required medical treatment. 23 people suffered head injuries escalator-related falls.

Seven incidents involved feet becoming entrapped in an escalator’s machinery. Reports show all but two of the accidents involved children, like Caprice, that were wearing Crocs or similar type shoes.

In May, Consumer Reports reported safety groups in the United States and Japan had issued safety warnings about the potential dangers by young escalator riders wearing soft-sided flexible shoes such as Crocs saying they were involved in 77 escalator entrapment incidents since January 2006. Crocs Inc. announced plans to include escalator safety messages on the tags of its footwear, in July.

Formal citizen petitions requiring design changes to make escalators safer have been denied by the agency twice..

Escalator Safety:

-- Loose shoe laces, scarves, drawstrings and like items can become trapped in escalators. The CPSC has reached an agreement with several children’s clothing manufacturers to remove drawstrings from necks and hoods of children’s clothing.

-- Do not bring children in strollers, carts or walkers onto escalators.

-- Always hold the handrail and face forward.

-- Always hold children’s hands and do not allow them to sit or play on the steps.

-- Try and avoid the edges of the steps where entrapments can occur.

-- Learn where the emergency shutoff button is located should you need to stop the escalator. #

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