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Escalator Safety Switches

Updated: Apr 27, 2018

Escalators and Moving Walks incorporate many safety-switches and devices, designed to prevent accidents, by stopping the equipment if a safety-switch is activated, or a component falls outside of normal operating parameters.

Some of the safety features that many people may already be aware of would include things like comb-plate switches, handrail entry switches and emergency stop buttons, as well as other features to help improve safety in general, such as the yellow demarcation lines on the edge of steps, or brushes installed on the skirting panels.

What people may not be aware of is that even in the event of a safety-switch being activated, the Escalator or Moving Walk does not simply come to an immediate stop. In fact, it would be dangerous for the equipment to stop instantaneously, as this could cause passengers to lose their balance and fall... potentially causing a ‘domino effect’. 

The Australian Standard for Escalators and Moving Walks (AS 1735 Part 5) requires the stopping distances for unloaded, and downward moving loaded escalators, to be between the following values.

Rated Speed

0.50 metres/second | Minimum Stopping Distance 0.20 metres | Maximum Stopping Distance 1.00 metre

0.65 metres/second | Minimum Stopping Distance 0.30 metres | Maximum Stopping Distance 1.30 metres

0.75 metres/second | Minimum Stopping Distance 0.35 metres | Maximum Stopping Distance 1.50 metres

Therefore, based on the above, an Escalator operating at 0.50 metres/second, may not stop for one (1) full metre, in the event of a safety-device being activated. This is obviously a rather scary thought if someone’s hand or foot should become caught in an Escalator comb-plate, or between a step and skirting panel.

It shows us the importance of always using caution when using Escalators and Moving Walks.

Some simple guidelines include;

-         step on and off carefully,

-         do not use trolleys or prams on Escalators,

-         always hold the handrail,

-         always keep a close eye on children and never leave them unintended,

-         do not touch the sides of Escalators or Moving Walks, and

-         always face forwards.

LML Lift Consultants are a proud supporter and sponsor of the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation, which is a not for profit organisation in the US. We are trying to disseminate the safety message in Australia for passengers riding Escalators, Moving Walks and Lifts, especially children. For further information follow this link

It is also vital that all safety-switches and devices installed on Escalators and Moving Walks, operate as designed and are regularly tested.

Based on the results of some recent Escalator audits, we would highly recommend implementing independent annual auditing of Escalators and Moving Walks to ensure everything is functioning correctly and that the level of maintenance being applied is adequate.

We include an overview of just a handful of basic safety-switches installed in Escalators (this certainly does not include all safety features), followed by some of our recent, and concerning, findings.

Whenever you need some independent advice in relation to your Escalators or Moving Walks, we would be happy to assist.

Our team are all industry trained specialists, have extensive ‘hands-on’ experience across a diverse range of Lift and Escalator equipment and a combined industry experience which exceeds 200 years.

1300 001 LML.


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