Boost escalator safety, too

Lifts and/or escalators are installed in all commercial buildings and are well used by the public.

User profiles for lifts and escalators in commercial buildings are similar, and include young children, expectant mothers and adults with babies in arms or slings.

While it is safer for adults with baby strollers and small shopping trolleys and individuals using walking aids to use lifts, they do ride on escalators from time to time. This group prefers to dispense with waiting for lifts if they are moving no more than two floors at a time.

An accident caused by a malfunctioning escalator could result in passengers sustaining serious injuries.

In August 2014, part of an escalator at a local mall gave way, resulting in a gap large enough for a person's foot to be trapped in. Luckily, no one was hurt.

It appears that the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) currently does not regulate the maintenance of escalators.

Building owners are expected to carry out maintenance, as recommended by the Singapore Standards CP15 - a code of practice on the installation, operation and maintenance of escalators and passenger conveyors.

For escalators, the code specifies monthly maintenance and annual functional testing to ensure that safety devices such as brakes are in good working condition.

The BCA has regulatory oversight over installation and maintenance of lifts. Following a recent spate of lift incidents at HDB blocks, the BCA strengthened regulations on lift maintenance to improve maintenance standards and enhance lift safety ("BCA moves to tighten lift maintenance, boost safety"; last Friday).

In the interest of public safety, the BCA should consider regulating the installation and maintenance of escalators, if there are no such measures now.

It could also launch a hotline or mobile app for the public to report on lifts and escalators that have broken down at least three times in six consecutive months or which have been shut down for preventive maintenance or non-routine servicing for more than a week.

Tan Lay Hoon (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2016, with the headline 'Boost escalator safety, too'. Print Edition | Subscribe