The L&I Blog

November 22, 2017

When Black Friday comes, hold the handrail

by Matthew Erlich

On Dec. 6, 2012, seven people were injured when an escalator malfunctioned in Macy’s at Bellevue Square.

A Washington State Department of Labor & Industries investigation determined mechanical and maintenance issues caused it to break down. L&I ordered both Macy’s and the service company, Schindler, to make repairs before the escalator went back into service.

But you don’t have to go back that far to see riding an escalator can be hazardous in Washington.

Hold the Handrail

27 people have been injured on escalators to date in 2017. In all of the cases, the causes were attributed to riders themselves, not mechanical failure.

In 2016, 32 people were injured. None were as a result of mechanical issues with the escalator itself.

What’s happening? Well, it’s not hard to imagine how injuries might occur: Jammed luggage creates a fall hazard; people holding holiday presents are unable to see how to step off safely.

According to a 2013 study, there are about 10,000 escalator-related injuries in the United States. The study noted most of the people injured were 60 years of age or older.

So what’s the best safety advice for riding an escalator when Black Friday comes?

Hold the handrail. Can’t hold the handrail? Take the elevator.Period. It’s the same for adults and children.

L&I has its own escalator safety information at There, you can download a document about how to ride safely on escalatorsPatented in 1892, the escalator has always had safety issues.

In fact, National Elevator Escalator Safety Awareness Week just took place – it’s observed during the second week in November in time for Black Friday and the busy holiday travel season.

Want more information? The Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation has a variety of resources that teach children, college-age young adults, and older adults how to ride safely. L&I also has its own page for rider safety.

Or, just Google “escalator accident” and see a video of your choice. Afterward, remember: Hold the handrail. Can’t hold the handrail? Take the elevator.

Did you know?

Hong Kong reportedly has the longest escalator in the world: At nearly nine football fields in length, it connects two neighborhoods.

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