PETALING JAYA: It is not difficult to stay out of trouble when using an escalator. Much of it boils down to common sense and reading the signs.
Commenting on some recent escalator accidents in the country, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has given a few pointers.
Its director-general Mohtar Musri poured cold water on the perception that escalator accidents were rising, saying the number of reported escalator cases in Malaysia was actually on the downtrend with only four incidents this year compared to 10 in 2011.
He stressed that escalators had to be used properly according to the safety guidelines like any other machinery and there were many signs and notices near the escalators which show the do’s and don’ts.
“Parents have to be more mindful and make sure that their children are always within their care and supervision in shopping malls,” he said in an interview.
Mohtar said that accidents normally involved children younger than 10 years old as they were not aware of the risks when using escalators.
He added that among the features to prevent accidents on escalators was the skirt-brush.
It is a brush throughout the entire length of the escalator at ankle height which prevents children’s legs and also long skirts from getting too close to the small gaps at the side of the escalator.
“Also, no one is supposed to stand on the yellow demarcation line on the sides because it is to prevent people from getting caught in the gaps,” he said.
Escalator accidents have been a heated topic in recent months, with the most current over a toddler’s left toe which was cut when it got jammed in the side of an escalator in a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 1.
Two months ago, a customer fell down with her shopping cart at a supermarket in Rawang when a pallet collapsed and created a 10-inch gap in a travelator.
She suffered no major injuries but the incident forced the supermarket to step up its maintenance checks for all lifts, travelators and escalators in all its stores from once a month to once a week.
In China, one shocking accident saw the death of a mother who fell through a gap that suddenly opened at the top of an escalator.
“In Malaysia, purely on operation and design there is very minimal or I can safely say few or no accidents at all, especially on escalators where a step falls and breaks,” said Mohtar.
He added that to increase public awareness, the department held campaigns in shopping malls nationwide.
He said the reduction in the number of accidents this year came despite a rising number of escalators and workers at more workplaces and shopping malls with about 10 million workers in 2004 compared to 14 million in 2014.
Mohtar added that there were more than 70,000 escalators in the country now and DOSH conducted stringent periodic checks on them.
“It is very important for us to get the cooperation of building owners and the public. It is not a one-sided type of responsibility; everybody must cooperate to reduce accidents,” he said.