Stepping up escalator safety

Updated: 2015-07-30 08:02

(China Daily)

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Stepping up escalator safety

The woman died after falling into a gap at the top of a department store escalator in Jingzhou city, Hubei province. [Photo/IC]

Whether it is safe to use an escalator or elevator is a question that is now on many people's minds after a young woman was killed on Sunday when the panel at the top of an escalator gave way beneath her.

Reportedly, there were 49 accidents involving escalators or elevators nationwide in 2014, which resulted in the deaths of 37 people. The accident rate is not that high given the millions of escalators and elevators in the country. Yet, the fact that the majority of accidents took place because of poor or non-existent maintenance suggests that some of the deaths could have been avoided.

With an increasing number of elevators or escalators being in service for many years, proper maintenance is essential to ensure their safety.

A preliminary investigation into the tragedy has found that the access cover was not properly fixed in place.

There should be strict rules about how regularly an elevator or escalator needs to be checked. And there should also be strict rules about the qualifications and credentials of the companies that provide maintenance services.

It has been reported that vicious competition has brought down prices considerably, and some small companies that are not sufficiently qualified get work simply because they offer a much lower price. If true, this will considerably compromise elevator and escalator safety, putting users in danger.

The watchdogs need to have strict rules in place to prevent unqualified service providers from entering the sector. Those who allow unqualified companies into the sector by bending the rules should receive due penalties.

And any property management firms that use unqualified maintenance companies should receive heavy fines. Rules should stipulate heavy fines for companies that are found to be responsible for fatal elevator or escalator accidents to bring home to them the importance of sound maintenance of their products.