A 21-month-old boy was injured during an escalator accident in February 2013 at a Barnes & Noble bookstore on the Upper West Side. The toddler was going down the escalator with his nanny when his hand became trapped between two steps after he tripped and fell. A store employee stated that the escalator shut off automatically, and the boy was able to free his hand from between the steps. Firefighters who responded to the accident treated the boy for a hand laceration. He was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.
According to escalator safety experts, the boy didn’t suffer more serious injuries because the escalator’s step-upthrust safety mechanism was working properly. The mechanism detects when something becomes entrapped between an escalator’s steps and automatically shuts down the escalator to prevent further injury and damage. Safety experts also pointed out the importance of holding a child’s hand while riding an escalator.
There are approximately 35,000 escalators in the United State, most of which are located in commercial and public buildings. Each escalator transports 12,000 people on an annual basis. A study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission determined that 6,000 people are injured in escalator accidents each year. Seventy-five percent of these injuries are caused by trips and falls. Twenty-percent of these injuries are caused by entrapment, a situation in which a person’s foot, hand or article of clothing becomes stuck between two stairs. In addition, the study concluded that escalator accidents result in two fatalities every year. Most of these deaths are caused by trips and falls that result in serious head trauma.
Several major escalator companies have been found liable in accidents over the past couple of years. For instance, Montgomery Escalator manufactured an escalator with faulty wiring, which caused an accident that injured 30 people. Schindler Elevator manufactured multiple escalators that contained defective parts. These parts caused numerous escalators to abruptly stop, causing people to lose their balance and fall. Over a period of one month, seven such accidents occurred in Washington, D.C. The company was also found liable in a 2009 accident that injured a three-year-old child.
One common type of escalator accident occurs when a person’s foot becomes entrapped between two steps. In 2002, a 12-year-old boy suffered a major injury to his big toe after his foot became stuck between two steps. In 2003, a five-year-old girl was severely injured when her hand became stuck between two steps. As a result of the accident, part of the girl’s hand and three of her fingers had to be amputated. Finally, in 2005, 71 New York City schoolchildren suffered minor injuries after the escalator they were riding on stopped abruptly and then jilted backwards, causing many children to fall.
See also the Elevator Accident Blog to read more about this incident.