Escalator safety touchy subject for malls

Pedestrians use the escalators heading into Nu Sentral from Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, April 6, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Pedestrians use the escalators heading into Nu Sentral from Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, April 6, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa


PETALING JAYA, June 18 — Shopping mall operators have strike a fine balance between encouraging visitors to adopt good behaviour and ensuring their safety.

Malaysia Shopping Mall Association vice-president Y.L. Lum said malls were in a dilemma as they risked antagonising their visitors if they appeared forceful in trying to get adults to ensure children they accompany are not left unsupervised near escalators.

“We cannot breathe down their necks and harass them into keeping their kids safe. We can only do our part and hope they will return the favour by being careful,” he said.

“Sometimes, we are forced to confront parents when we spot children trying to climb up the hand-guard or play at the escalator steps, but we would rather this does not happen.”

Lum said visitors to malls, especially those with children, need to be careful to mind them when around escalators and to use discretion to ensure their safety.

“Many shopping malls across the country have invested in audio and visual warnings to ensure people practice safe behaviour around escalators,” he said.

Lum said these efforts were meant to further improve the user’s alertness on top of the statutory requirements on many other basic safety features and warning signs.

“It is heartbreaking but unfortunately, despite all our efforts, there are still incidents of children getting injured because of unsafe behaviour.”

Lum also said there was no standardised nationwide standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the association to shopping mall operators.

“Each mall uses different models of escalators and need their own SOP. It would be counter-productive to try and standardise this. Certificates are renewed annually by authorities who carry out inspections and ensure guidelines and warning signs are in place,” he said.

Lum also said recent cases of children getting injured near escalators had been blown out of proportion as the number of accidents were few and far between despite being high-profile considering the thousands of escalators operating at malls, train stations, hotels and other places.

“In all fairness, in our sector alone, there are some 550 shopping malls in Malaysia, with the average mall housing between 10 and 30 escalators.

“These escalators are serving hundreds of thousands of people a day without mishaps. It is a matter or exercising caution and keeping safety in mind,” he said, adding that he hoped the publicity would contribute to greater public awareness on the issue.

Meanwhile, Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) director-general Mohtar Musri said in a statement yesterday escalator mishaps involving children were due to parental negligence.

“Parents should supervise their children, especially when using an escalator,” he said.

DOSH said there are 10,951 escalators in the country and inspections showed all of them were designed according to international standards.

Mohtar also said DOSH had conducted regular campaigns to increase public awareness on the safe use of escalators through various public channels.

“However, campaigns are not going to be effective if (adults) are not keeping an eye on children,” he said.