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August 28, 2015

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Escalator inspections reveal extent of risk

SAFETY officials have completed checks on 2,600 escalators across the city and ordered the indefinite suspension of 33 machines deemed to be potentially hazardous.

The inspections were carried out by the Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau following a number of incidents across the country in which people were hurt, and in one case killed, due to machines malfunctioning.

The number of escalators tested represents about 15 percent of the 17,000 currently in operation in Shanghai. Extrapolating the rate of serious problems, the actual number of “hazardous” machines could surpass 200.

The bureau did not explain why its safety appraisal was not comprehensive.

According to Shen Weimin, its deputy director, as well as identifying faulty machines, the inspections revealed that many of the companies responsible for the escalators — both manufacturers and maintenance firms — had failed to establish response procedures for dealing with accidents and emergencies.

Several companies had also failed to arrange suitable training programs for management staff at the venues in which their machines were installed, he said.

Among the offending manufacturers was Suzhou Shenlong Elevator Co, which was ordered to dismantle seven of its machines and repair five others, Shen said.

Based in Suzhou, east China’s Jiangsu Province, the company rose to infamy last month after one of its machines “swallowed” a woman as she tried to save her 2-year-old child.

As the mother and son stepped onto the machine at a department store in Jingzhou, central China’s Hubei Province, a loose floor panel gave way. The woman pushed her son to safety, but was unable to save herself. She was dragged into the mechanism and to her death.


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