THERE is an urgent need for building management entities and the companies which provide technical support to perform regular safety audits on all the escalators at their premises. They have to ensure that the escalators are safe, especially those which are heavily used on weekends or during school holidays.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is concerned about the safety of the public after two mishaps involving moving walkways in the past few days.
On Sunday (March 5), a 20-year-old female student injured her leg after she was involved in a mishap on an escalator in Petaling Jaya and on Wednesday (March 8), a 38-year-old woman fractured her toes when her foot was caught in a travelator at a shopping mall in Subang Jaya.
These two cases have highlighted once again the issue of the safe use of escalators as well as escalator safety. Over the years, there have been numerous escalator accidents involving young children due to negligence.
Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia (DOSH) director-general Datuk Mohtar Musri had, in June last year, said there were 11,600 escalators registered nationwide and about 10% of them were idle. The department had also received 31 accident cases involving escalators from 2011 until May 2015.
It was previously reported that DOSH had also found 2,747 escalators and lifts in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya had failed to meet safety standards in 2014.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act (OSHA) 1994, it is the responsibility of employers or building owners to ensure the escalators in their premises are in safe working condition. They must display proper signage on safety and remind people to be cautious during escalator maintenance.
I hope that shopping complexes would pay more attention to public safety in the use of escalators and make announcements through their public address system to remind the public on the safe use of escalators, travelators and lifts.
All repair work must also be undertaken by competent firms and engineers endorsed by DOSH, and every escalator should be certified fit for use by the department.
NIOSH hopes that mall operators will also engage architects to design more safety features for escalators to prevent mishaps that could result in injuries or death.
Apart from building owners, parents are also advised to always accompany their children when in shopping complexes. As for those who use the escalator, they should take precautionary measures as follows:
i) Make sure shoes laces are tight and shoes used are appropriate when taking the escalator;
ii) Always hold children’s hands and do not allow children to sit or play on the steps when taking escalators;
iii) Always look ahead, stand in the middle of the yellow coloured border, and hold on to the handrail;
iv) Avoid standing on the side of the step to avoid trapping the leg;
v) Know where the emergency shut-off button (in red) is in case you need to stop the escalator;
vi) Avoid placing bags or packages in the handrail; and
vii) Do not lean on the side handrail.
Escalators are said to be among the safest form of transportation but accidents occur as a result of unsafe practices and lax attitude such as using smartphones while riding the moving walkways.
We will continue to hear of such cases if all parties refuse to change their attitude for the better and take proactive actions to prevent escalator incidents in the future.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE