Elevators, escalators, and moving sidewalks are very efficient mass transit systems.  Because we use them in museums, zoos, theme parks, airports, theatres, hotels, apartment complexes, office buildings, hospitals, and many other places, we probably take them for granted.  These ways of moving hundreds of people every day or night require continuous safety monitoring and are required to meet OSHA safety regulations and standards.  They must be inspected annually. 

Elevators began to appear in city buildings in the 19th century.  Although the fatality rate is very low – around 30 or so per year, here are some safety tips to keep in mind when you enter an elevator. 

  •          First, if you are uneasy about anyone on the elevator you are planning to enter, wait and catch the next one.  Never take an unnecessary chance.
  •          Use caution around closing doors.
  •          Never attempt to slide in at the last minute. 
  •         Enter and exit cars only at designated floor alignments.
  •          Be sure the elevator is lined up with the floor.
  •          Push the call button only once; you just slow down the service if you keep pushing the buttons.
  •         Should you become trapped inside the elevator, call for help.
  •          Never put your hand in between the doors to stop them from closing; there is a button that will do that for you.

Elevators have multiple safety features, such as platform sensors, backup power, manual systems (in case of power outages), emergency phone, alarms, and automatic controls.  Call for help and wait for crews to properly align the car, should it get stuck midway.   

Escalators are used about 120 billion times annually in the United States.  I have always been more careful when getting on or off an escalator since I got “popped” off one when I was a kid, and wasn’t paying attention when it reached the floor I needed to exit.  One tip is to make sure that your shoes are tied before getting on one.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when riding an escalator: 

  • Do not ride an escalator if you are wearing soft-sided flexible clogs or slides.
  • If you wear bifocals, take extra care stepping on and off the escalator.
  • Find the escalator emergency shut-off buttons in case you need to stop the escalator.
  • Never ride an escalator if you are using crutches or a cane.
  • Take an elevator rather than riding the escalator if you feel dizzy or have problems keeping your balance.
  • Hold your child’s hand firmly.
  • Don’t carry large packages, bags or rolling luggage onto an escalator.
  • Stand in the middle of the escalator step and don’t lean on the side.
  • Keep loose clothing clear of steps and sides. 

Information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says that about 20,000 escalator-related accidents require emergency room treatment each year.  The majority of the incidents were from falls, but 10 per cent occurred when hands, feet or shoes became entrapped.  Many accidents could have been prevented by the use of basic safety precautions. 

Moving sidewalks are very helpful, especially in large airports when you need to get from one part of the building to another.  They require the same safety monitoring as elevators and escalators.  If you plan to ride only on the moving sidewalk, stand to the right side of it.  Those who are walking should stay on the left side, in order to pass those who prefer not to walk on the moving sidewalk.   As with escalators, hold onto the handrail. 

It may seem simple to those who use these types of transportation on an every-day basis.  However, we cannot stress the importance that safety plays when using these means of transportation.  For those who own, operate, or service elevators, escalators, or moving sidewalks, liability is a major concern.  They all require certified inspections that meet federal safety regulations.  These types of heavy, moving equipment should be taken seriously.  We may take them for granted, but think about how many stairs you would have to climb or steps you would have to take if they didn’t exist.  Stay safe, and enjoy the ride!


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