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February 1, 2012

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Safety fear over intersecting escalators

ALTHOUGH China's standards say a fixed baffle must be installed where two escalators intersect, few in Shanghai have the protective device fitted.

Concerns have been raised following an incident in Beijing on Sunday, when a nine-year-old boy died after his head became wedged between the intersection of two escalators.

But yesterday, Shanghai Daily found on many locations where two escalators intersect the only safety measure was signs warning, "Mind Your Head."

At popular shopping malls, such as Westgate Mall, and stores, including Marks & Spencer, "scissors-style escalators" had no baffles.

According to a 1997 standard, a fixed baffle - at least 0.3 meters high and with no sharp parts - should be installed at intersections if the distance between two escalators is less than 0.5 meters.

An amended version to be introduced in July retains this clause.

The boy who died in Beijing had been playing on the escalator alone while his mother, a saleswoman, was working.

He had craned his neck over the side to look down, unaware he was approaching a point where the escalator he was traveling upwards on passed another.

The boy's head became wedged between the two escalators and he was killed immediately.

Shanghai quality authorities, said the most important lesson from the incident was that children should not be allowed on escalators unaccompanied.

Officials with the Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision said a "Mind Your Head" sign can serve as a baffle.

The bureau said it checks the quality of local escalators every year.


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