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L&I calls for greater safety on anniversary of escalator tragedy

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April 8, 2014

Tumwater – In the year since the tragic death on a King County Metro escalator, more than 60 people have been injured on escalators, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

At least 70 percent of those injuries could have been avoided by using the hand rail.

"People have a lack of understanding how what they're doing can lead to a hazard," said Jack Day, chief elevator inspector for L&I. "It happens very fast."

It was April 8, 2013, when Maurecio Bell, 42, choked to death after his clothing got tangled in an escalator during the early morning hours at the University Street Station. Footage showed Bell losing his balance and falling on his back.

Day said the anniversary of the tragedy was an important time to emphasize rider safety, suggesting people visit the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation website at The website features interactive activities for youth, as well as other safety education materials. Additional information is available online from the agency at

Typically, injuries occur when people lose their balance while carrying packages or luggage onto an escalator, Day said. People crowd, push, and are unaware of the need for escalator safety.

L&I completed 10,605 elevator and escalator inspections last year. The agency also has authorized overtime and is in the process of hiring five more inspectors, Day said.

In July 2013, the agency adopted a modernized Maintenance Control Program. The program standardized accountability and made it easier for the building owner and inspector to know whether a conveyance has been maintained.

"Escalators are as safe to use as any other mechanical device — it's how people approach it," Day said. He said people have a responsibility to ride conveyances safely and building owners have an obligation to ensure escalators and elevators are maintained properly.

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For media information: Matthew Erlich, L&I Public Affairs,, (360) 902-6508

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Broadcast version:
The Department of Labor & Industries says 60 people have been injured since the tragic death on a Metro escalator April 8, 2013. At least 70 percent of those injuries could have been avoided by using the hand rail. See more about escalator safety at

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