Escalator Signs Don’t Comply with Sound Safety Engineering Practices

Inadequate Escalator Sign

The industry continues using the wrong sign!

Within the field of safety engineering, there are certain principles all competent professionals follow: if a hazard can be eliminated through design, it should be; if it can’t be designed out, it should be guarded against; and if it can’t be addressed by design or guarding, then a warning sign is required. While the escalator industry has taken steps to address the dangers associated with sidewall entrapments, no steps have been taken to address the risk of fingers getting crushed between the steps and then cut off by the comb plate in several decades. Instead the industry continues to rely on outdated and inadequate signs it invented which violate sound safety engineering principles.

All competent safety engineers agree that for a warning sign to do its job effectively, it needs to do 3 things:

  • It needs to get your attention.
  • It needs to tell you what the hazard is.
  • It needs to tell you what the solution is.

In terms of getting your attention, the 3 common signs, from least hazardous to most hazardous, state Caution, Warning, and Danger. A yellow “Caution” sign is used in situations where minor or moderate injuries may result if the hazard is not avoided. An orange “Warning” sign is used for situations which could result in death or serious injury if not avoided. And a red “Danger” sign is restricted for the most extreme injury risks, such as electrocution, where death or serious injury will result if the hazard is not avoided.

All competent safety engineers agree that crushing injuries or amputations are serious injuries, not minor or moderate ones, and their risk requires the use of the mid-range WARNING sign. So why does every hazard sign associated with an escalator use a CAUTION sign instead? Because the industry does not want consumers to know the true dangers associated with its products. If the public knew the true risks, it would demand corrective action, which would mean investment in product improvement and down time to install updated equipment. Instead the industry has circled the wagons to resist accurate warning signs, keeping the public in the dark about these menaces, and adopting its own “industry standards” which it then lobbies government officials to adopt. If safety were its first priority, all escalator signs would include the following words:


Amputation Hazard

Small children should use the elevators.

At the San Diego Child Injury Law Center, we follow the advice of our experts and strongly urge all parents with children 5 and under to avoid escalators and use the elevator whenever possible. The extra time is well worth your peace of mind.

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