Malaysiakini Letter

Time to stop escalator accidents

Shabana Naseer  |  Published:  |  Modified:

According to the Department of Occupational Health and Safety (DOSH), “97 percent of escalator accidents reported from 2011-2015 involved young children”. Sadly, the largest number of victims involved in escalator accidents were children; these accidents caused permanent disabilities and life-threatening situations.

It’s time to act to stop escalator accidents from happening as it is already becoming rampant in Malaysia. How safe are our escalators in Malaysia? How often are safety inspections conducted in every mall and train stations?

Escalators in Malaysia were designed according to the EN 115-1 standard, which regulates the safety features of an escalator. The Factories and Machinery Act 1967 states that an escalator must receive a certificate of fitness to operate, which is renewable every 15 months.

The certificate should be placed where it is visible for the public eye and the regulators need to conduct inspection regularly to ensure that the certificates are renewed and most importantly that the maintenance schedule has been implemented from time to time to ensure that the escalators are safe and free from any defects.

Due to the high volume of users in the malls and train stations, escalators are subjected to wear and tear during their service life which could be one of the reasons for escalator mishaps.

While the regulators’ role is to ensure that the escalators are well-maintained and safety standard are strictly adhered to, users too plays an important role. Users should hold on to the handrail. Holding onto the handrail reduces the risk of slipping or tripping over the moving steps. A user should never go beyond the lines at the edge of each step; there would be risks of entrapment if the user places his or her feet beyond it.

Since children are at greater risk for escalator accidents, the adults should always accompany their children and protect them. It is also not advisable to let children on strollers, walkers, or anything on wheels to ride the escalator because it would put them at great risks.

Above all, it is important to know where the emergency shut-off button is located as it would surely be helpful in cases of accidents.

SHABANA NASEER is senior manager, legal and policy, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca)/National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC).

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