National Academies Press: OpenBook

Escalator Falls (2020)

Chapter: Chapter 3 - Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Escalator Falls. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25899.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Escalator Falls. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25899.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Escalator Falls. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25899.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Escalator Falls. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25899.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Escalator Falls. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25899.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Escalator Falls. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25899.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Escalator Falls. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25899.
×
Page 27

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21 Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety This chapter discusses the results of a survey of airports and identifies significant issues that contribute to escalator incidents. Literature review and the project survey results inform the discussion of major issues and mitigations. Survey A written survey was sent to airport risk-management personnel or airport managers at air- ports with two or more vertical levels of passenger access. Responding airports represent large-, medium-, small-, and non-hub airports as defined by NPIAS. More than 80 airports in the United States and Canada were contacted three times in an effort to improve the response rate. A total of 12 airports responded. The low response may have been the result of several factors, including the survey being administered during the summer (a busy time for airports), the length of the survey, and wariness about sharing data. Several of the responding airports received follow-up phone interviews to clarify responses and develop examples in compliance with good practice. A condition of response was that the airports would not be identified. Appendix B includes a copy of the cover letter and survey instrument. Appendix C presents the data tables that include the number of responses and percentages. Data from Airport Risk Management Experts The survey asked basic questions about key aspects of airport terminal design and passenger flows affecting escalator design and operations. The survey included short-answer and open- ended questions. Most respondents only answered parts of the survey. Few respondents answered specific questions pertaining to escalators, such as manufac- turer and basic dimensions including slope, number of flat steps, step width, cleat design, operating speed, installation, and age. However, most did answer questions on maintenance protocols. Many respondents admitted that they had no idea what speed their escalators were set at. Responses to the survey were broadly consistent with findings from the literature review. Survey Summary Survey results are summarized in Figures 3-1 to 3-9. Appendix C includes the tables of results. The first value is the number of responses and the second number in brackets is the percentage. C H A P T E R 3

22 Escalator Falls Level Changes Figure 3-1 is a summary of level changes showing that most responding airports have one level change between the departure curb and departure gate and no level changes before baggage drop-off. Co-location of Vertical Change Elements Figure 3-2 confirms that most escalators are co-located with stairs, elevators, or both. Only one airport mentioned escalators that were not co-located with at least one other form of vertical change element. All escalators at responding airports are on the main path of travel. The majority of airports also indicated that passengers arriving at remote curbs or parking garages must use either escalators or elevators before ticketing and check-in. Wayfinding and Signage Figure 3-3 is a summary of the responses to questions on sight lines for signs. It shows a mix of responses. Respondents indicated that the elevator locations are clearly visible on the path of travel and that there are signs to show where the nearest elevator is located, but the literature review indicated that signage and wayfinding need improvement. All respondents indicate that elevator signs are visible to a person using a wheelchair. However, this question did not address the issue of sight lines for the person in a wheelchair and the proximity to the elevator required for the person in a wheelchair to see the sign. Attractive Distractions Figure 3-4 refers to distractions for passengers riding the escalators. The most frequent type of distraction is advertising. On a positive note, only two of the 12 airports indicated the sloping areas adjacent to the escalators as places where people may be tempted to slide. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% On average, how many vertical level changes do departing passengers go through from the departure curb to departure lounge? On average how many level changes are there before checked baggage drop off? On average how many level changes are there after checked baggage drop off? In general, how many vertical level changes do domestic arriving passengers go through from arriving gate to baggage claim level? How many vertical level changes do international arriving passengers go through from arriving gate to baggage claim level? 3 2 1 0 Figure 3-1. Percentage of airport respondents and the number of level changes.

Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety 23 0% 5% 10% 9% 3% 8% 4% 8% 4% 8% 4% 11% 1% 1% 10% 1% 10% 2% 10.5% 1.5%Escalators are co-located with stairs Escalators are co-located with elevators Escalators are co-located with both stairs and elevators Escalators are not co-located with either stairs or elevators Escalators are located on the main path of travel Elevators are located on the main path of travel Stairs are located on the main path of travel Some arriving passengers arriving at remote curbs or parking garages must use escalators or elevators before ticketing and check in Yes No No Response Figure 3-2. Summary of co-location of vertical change elements (e.g., stairs, escalators, and elevators). 67% 58% 100% 33% 42% 0% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% No Yes Are there signs at the entrances to escalators to show where the nearest elevator is located? Can the elevator sign be seen by a person using a wheelchair? Is the location of the elevator clearly visible on the path of travel? Figure 3-3. Summary of wayfinding and signage. Escalator Condition Few airports answered questions addressing escalator malfunction. Only three respondents referred to overloading. Figure 3-5 shows the responses to questions on the condition of the escalator. These are consistent with literature in discounting physical condition or maintenance as a major contributing factor in escalator incidents. Escalator Maintenance Responses to questions related to maintenances of escalators were consistent. Eleven of the respondents have a regular escalator maintenance schedule, with maintenance performed by outside contractors. Only two airports responded that passengers might use out-of-service

24 Escalator Falls escalators as stairs. Figure 3-6 is a summary of the responses on escalator maintenance. Airport maintenance staff do not conduct escalator maintenance at any of the reporting airports. Escalator Incidents All respondents mentioned that there have been escalator incidents; however, some declined to provide any details about the incidents. All respondents use standard forms for reporting escala- tor incidents. These forms and escalator incident reports are part of the airport risk-management databases at nine of the responding airports. Figure 3-7 shows that the most common types of incidents are slips and falls. This is consistent with the results summarized in the literature. The most frequent comments referred to passenger footwear, particularly soft-soled types and high- heeled shoes. Only one response provided details on an escalator incident involving animals— a companion animal walking on a moving walkway got its nails caught in the base plate. Escalator Crowding Only four airports mentioned having a problem with escalator crowding, but none of the four respondents adjusted escalator speed in response to crowding. Three of the four 75% 25% 17% 17% 8% 25% 67% 75% 83% 33% 0% 8% 8% 0% 58% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Advertising Loudspeakers FIDS Sloping areas that can be used as slides Other No response No Yes Figure 3-4. Attractive distractors for passengers riding the escalator (FIDS = flight information display system). 17% 17% 25% 8% 8% 33% 25% 33% 42% 17% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Mis-use of out of service escalators Sudden stops Overloading Maintenance Other Yes No No response Figure 3-5. Summary of condition of escalator reported in incidents.

Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety 25 respondents with crowding issues provide staff or use ambassadors to manage flow on and off the escalators. Three of the four responding airports use bollards and other physical-flow control methods to manage crowding at escalator entrances and egress. Two of the four airports are in Canada. Several U.S. respondents mentioned that state laws prevent them from using physical obstacles or bollards at escalator entrances and exits. Figure 3-8 is a summary of the escalator- crowding question responses. Airport Operations and Risk Management Figure 3-9 provides a summary of the responses to questions related to airport operations and risk management. Most of the responding airports have risk management programs for escalators. A surprising response was that only 8% of the airports have public service announcements or public outreach of educational programs to promote escalator safety. 92% 0% 0% 25% 17% 0% 8% 0% 0% 75% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Is escalator maintenance conducted on a regular schedule? Is escalator maintenance conducted only as needed? Is escalator maintenance conducted by airport maintenance staff? Is escalator maintenance contracted out? Are passengers permitted to use “out of service” escalators as stairs? No response No Yes Figure 3-6. Summary of responses to questions on escalator maintenance. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Overcrowding Slips and Falls Pushed or bumped Improper Use (playing on escalator) Distraction Service Animal Animal ( companion or other) Yes No No response 17% 42% 33% 8% 75% 8% 50% 58% 33% 33% 50% 58% 33% 42% 25% 33% 42% 25% 33% Figure 3-7. General description of escalator incidents.

26 Escalator Falls Common Responses A total of 10 of the responding airports indicated that entrances and exits to the escalators were well illuminated, and 10 airports reported that there were no audible warnings at escalator entrances or exits. All the respondents have video cameras at exits and entrances, but many use the cameras for risk management and do not actively monitor the video feeds. The most common responses to the question, “What are the best risk management tools or procedures that would improve escalator safety?” are as follows: • Signage – that prohibits large items and – that encourages the use of elevators by people with mobility issues; • Promotion of passenger awareness of the hazards of using escalators; and • Physical deterrents to discourage wheeled devices, including strollers and wheelchairs, and large baggage from using escalators. 33% 8% 8% 67% 67% 67% 25% 25% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Does this include changing the speed of the escalator? Does this include providing staff to manage the crowd? Are there bollards or other physical measures to manage crowding and escalator entrances and egress? Yes No No response 0% Figure 3-8. Summary of escalator crowding. 92% 83% 8% 100% 75% 75% 8% 17% 83% 25% 8% 8% 17% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Does the airport have “feet on the ground” or “ambassadors”? Does the airport have an active program to improve the overall safety culture? Does the airport have public service announcements, public outreach or education programs to promote escalator safety? Do you have standard forms for reporting escalator incidents? Are these forms part of an airport risk management database? Are escalator incidents included in the airport risk management databases? Yes No No response Figure 3-9. Airport operations and risk management.

Survey of Current Practices that Contribute to Escalator Safety 27 Open Issues Identified in the Literature and Survey The majority of escalator incidents at airports are the result of human behavior. Some behaviors could be modified by increasing awareness of escalator safety through public service announcements, terminal design that places elevators on the path of travel, and clear terminal wayfinding systems. Nevertheless, there are emerging research questions that have not been addressed in the literature or the survey. As airport terminals place service-animal relief areas on both sides of security, there may be a need to include more signage and wayfinding for passengers traveling with service and companion animals. Some literature suggested that hair between the pads on some breeds of dogs could be caught in the treads of escalators and moving walkways. Although not referenced directly, there may be a causal relationship between the type and location of terminal slips and falls and post-travel physiological changes. Such changes may be the result of pressure changes, dehydration, and the well-documented effects of sitting for long periods. These changes may cause vulnerable passengers to experience additional balance and vestibular problems resulting in increased numbers and severity of trips and falls. The literature shows that reducing escalator speed improves safety. The new ASME standard sets a maximum of 100 fpm. There is not yet any research defining a recommended speed for airport terminal escalators. Two airports reported lower operating speeds of 80 and 90 fpm, and one airport has a significant number of older passengers. A long-term study could be conducted to measure the effectiveness of reducing escalator falls by locating and homing elevators on the main path of travel before check-in and after baggage claim.

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Escalator falls are a significant concern for risk management staff at airports and in mass transit systems. The major differences between the airport and transit environments are the amount of baggage carried onto the escalator and the level of unfamiliarity of people with the escalator environment in airports.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Synthesis 109: Escalator Falls identifies and describes methods to mitigate risks associated with escalator usage.

Risk management professionals from both the airport and transit environments have expressed interest in developing common reporting schemes and more robust data analysis to identify common causes of escalator falls.

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