Washington L&I Calls for Better Escalator Safety

April 9, 2014

In the year since the tragic death on a King County Metro escalator, more than 60 people have been injured on escalators, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

At least 70 percent of those injuries could have been avoided by using the hand rail.

“People have a lack of understanding how what they’re doing can lead to a hazard,” said Jack Day, chief elevator inspector for L&I. “It happens very fast.”escalator safety

It was April 8, 2013, when Maurecio Bell, 42, choked to death after his clothing got tangled in an escalator during the early morning hours at the University Street Station. Footage showed Bell losing his balance and falling on his back.

Typically, injuries occur when people lose their balance while carrying packages or luggage onto an escalator, Day said. People crowd, push, and are unaware of the need for escalator safety.

L&I completed 10,605 elevator and escalator inspections last year. The agency also has authorized overtime and is in the process of hiring five more inspectors, Day said.

In July 2013, the agency adopted a modernized Maintenance Control Program. The program standardized accountability and made it easier for the building owner and inspector to know whether a conveyance has been maintained.

“Escalators are as safe to use as any other mechanical device – it’s how people approach it,” Day said. He said people have a responsibility to ride conveyances safely and building owners have an obligation to ensure escalators and elevators are maintained properly.

Source: Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I)

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