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August 3, 2015

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Cleaner accuses mall after losing leg trapped in escalator

Program Code: 0909346150805001

A CLEANER yesterday had part of his leg amputated after he became trapped in an escalator in a downtown shopping mall.

Zhang Shisheng, 35, had the lower part of his left leg removed at the Sixth People’s Hospital in Xuhui District.

He is said to be in a stable condition, said officials.

This is the fourth high-profile accident involving escalators in China in recent days.

Zhang was cleaning an escalator between B2 and B1 after the Cloud Nine shopping mall at Zhongshan Park had closed, when the accident occurred just after 10:20pm.

Surveillance camera footage showed Zhang at the top of the escalator, standing on a rolled up towel and holding a mop to his right hand side, cleaning the steps as they came up.

However, the plate on which Zhang was standing, joining the moving escalator steps with the static floor plate, suddenly burst open.

The towel was thrown backward and Zhang sent lurching forward, trapping his foot in the mechanism.

Cloud Nine said that Zhang had not been following the correct cleaning procedures.

“Cleaners are required to do their cleaning at 10:30pm when escalators stop running, but he started 10 minutes early,” a Cloud Nine marketing manager, surnamed Lin, said.

Cloud Nine said that the stress of Zhang’s weight on the panel, combined with cleaning materials becoming jammed, led to the plate bursting open and his leg becoming trapped.

The escalator automatically shut down, it said.

But speaking from his hospital bed yesterday, Zhang said Cloud Nine was aware of this cleaning practice and its dangers but had ignored his pleas for specialist equipment.

He said the panel had also burst open while he was cleaning last month.

“I was lucky not to fall last time, but I never thought something as terrible as this would happen to me,” he said.

“I told the company about it then and that there are professional machines for cleaning escalators, but I didn’t hear back from them,” Zhang said.

He denied Cloud Nine’s claims that an automatic shutdown was triggered, saying he stopped the escalator himself.

Zhang also claimed that he received no training on cleaning escalators before starting work on them.

Relatives said Zhang has about 10 years of experience working as a cleaner, including a spell at the New World Mall on Nanjing Road.

“On that job he was given equipment that was safer than just a towel and allowed him to keep some distance from the escalator,” said the cleaner’s father Zhang Shouyong.

Zhang lives in Shanghai with his wife, while their 12-year-old child lives back in their hometown in neighboring Anhui Province.

Zhang’s mother-in-law, surnamed Zheng, said he faces an uncertain future.

“He’s only 35, and is disabled for any job in the future, which will be a great loss to his family,” she said.

Qin Jiong, office director of the Shanghai Elevator Trade Association, said there are specialist machines for escalator cleaning, but these are not compulsory and not widely used in China.

Costs range from 5,000 to 10,000 yuan (US$1,610), Qin said.

Qin said that while there is a temptation to clean escalators while they are running, as it’s easier, this should never be done for safety reasons.

He added that while there are no regulations on safety training for escalator cleaners, training is necessary and should be provided.

An investigation is under way, Changning District Market Supervision Bureau said.

On July 26, 30-year-old Xiang Liujuan plunged through a loose panel on an escalator in a department store in Jingzhou City, in Hubei Province, and was killed. While she was being dragged in by the mechanism, the young mother held her 3-year-old son above her head so onlookers could save him.

The next day a 1-year-old boy’s suffered serious injuries to his left arm after it became stuck in an escalator in a shopping mall in Wuzhou City in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Then on August 1, a 6-year-old boy escaped with minor injuries when his foot was trapped in a shopping mall escalator in Chaoyang District in Beijing.


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