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August 20, 2012

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Escalator safety remains problem

THE city's consumer protection commission is calling on local department stores to improve the safety of escalators after another escalator incident.

A resident surnamed Zhang complained last week that her five-year-old son lost his toenail when his big toe was trapped in the gap on one side of an escalator at a local department store. The store asked a staff member to accompany them to the hospital but the worker fled on the way.

The escalator had no strips to protect people from being pinched, and the gaps on the escalator's left and right sides were not even, posing a hazard, Zhang said.

She also complained the warning sign above the escalator was not easily visible. The department store insisted it was not at fault and rejected any liability.

The consumer commission said department stores should check facilities regularly, be responsible for their maintenance and make warning signs clear, while the public should obey rules and watch out for children and seniors.

A new safety standard implemented in July of 2011 required escalator operators to install strips or other protective device to prevent riders' shoes or skirts being trapped by gaps and to install fixed guards or baffles where two escalators intersect. The standard officially went into effect in August after a year's buffer period.

Some escalator operators in the city still have failed to fix these problems. They will be ordered to suspend use of these escalators, the Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau said earlier.

Some residents said they have become more careful while riding escalators.

"After I saw reports about women's long skirts being pinched by escalators, I lifted my skirts higher while taking them at Metro stations," said Chen Wei, a white collar worker at an advertising company.

A man died in January after his head became trapped between escalators in a Beijing mall. An escalator went suddenly into reverse, killing one rider and injuring 30, in Beijing in July 2011. A boy was hurt that month when his head was trapped by an escalator at a Carrefour outlet in Shanghai.


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