Escalators Are More Dangerous Than You Might Think

Escalators Are More Dangerous Than You Might Think

Escalators Are More Dangerous Than You Might Think

It turns out that a shocking number of escalator injuries happen around the U.S. and the world every year

When it comes to safety inside a store or office building, most people probably worry about slips and falls before they question the safety of an escalator. After all, escalators are slow-moving and designed to help people glide gently to the next floor — how dangerous can they be?

It turns out that a shocking number of escalator injuries happen around the U.S. and the world every year. According to a study published in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, there are about 10,000 escalator injuries in the United States every year. Researchers looked at emergency room data over an 11-year period and found startling results. Highlights of the study include:

50 percent of escalator injury victims are female.

The majority of victims were over 60 years old.

Accidents in women tended to happen on Tuesdays, whereas escalator accidents involving men happened more on Saturdays.

Women were injured more frequently between noon and 6 PM, whereas men were injured more often in the evenings, between 6 PM and midnight.

62 percent of escalator injuries occurred in public transport facilities.

The majority of injuries in women were to the lower extremities, but most men were injured around their head and neck, indicating a fall.

About half of all patients hurt in an escalator accident required hospitalization, and 55 percent remained in the hospital for more than 24 hours.

As the authors of the study state, “Escalator accidents can result in severe trauma.” Part of the problem is that escalators haven’t changed much since they were invented. The first escalator, which was made of wood, was patented in 1892 and installed as an amusement park ride in Coney Island, New York. You can still find wooden escalators in Macy’s Department Store in New York City. The escalators date from the 1920s. A store spokesman told the New York Times, “At the end of the day, they operate effectively, they meet all the necessary codes and they’re reliable.”

Serious Escalator Accidents

In recent years, there have been numerous horrific accidents involving escalators. In 2015, a mother in China was killed when the escalator platform cover collapsed. Security cameras showed how she shoved her child to safety as she fell into the escalator’s machinery.

In another escalator accident in Hong Kong, over 18 people were hurt when an escalator suddenly reversed, sending riders toppling into each other. Media reports state that one man suffered a serious head injury.

There have also been reports of people suffering amputations, broken bones, and other severe injuries due to escalator accidents and malfunctions. There are about 33,000 escalators in the United States. Although elevators outnumber escalators, there are far more injuries on escalators. Other accidents involve clothing, footwear, or shoelaces getting trapped in the gaps between the escalator’s moving parts.    

Sources:

  1. http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-04/fyi-why-are-escalators-so-dangerous
  2. http://www.safetyresearch.net/blog/articles/escalator-injuries-and-deaths-and-role-design
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628462/
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/26/nyregion/macys-historic-wooden-escalators-survive-renovation.html
  5. http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/27/china/chinese-mother-killed-escalator/index.html
  6. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/03/28/horrifying-footage-shows-escalator-reverse-hong-kong-mall/99721484/

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