Petition for Federal Safety Standard is Denied
Teaneck, New Jersey – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to deny a petition for federal regulation of escalators. Instead, the CPSC agreed with its staff’s recommendation that the code changes proposed by the National Elevator Industry, Inc. (NEII) and adopted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) would significantly enhance escalator safety.
“NEII and its member companies are extremely pleased with the CPSC’s decision to deny the petition for federal regulation of escalators,” says James Walker, executive director, NEII. “Additionally, NEII endorses Commissioner Gall’s conclusions that the CPSC does not have jurisdiction over escalators, and therefore lacks the authority to promulgate a mandatory consumer product safety standard for escalators. NEII continues to believe that enhanced escalator safety is best accomplished by improving the voluntary standards for escalators and will continue to work to support that process.”
While escalator incidents actually are rare compared to the millions of passenger rides each day – more than 33,000 escalators throughout the U.S. carry some 245 million people daily – the industry has been working to continuously improve the safety of its products. Most recently, NEII has been focusing its efforts, in conjunction with the ASME, on reducing the potential for step/skirt entrapments.
NEII hired Arthur D. Little Inc. (ADL) to conduct an independent, scientific study of step/skirt entrapment incidents and to develop a performance index to determine an escalator’s potential to meet certain related safety criteria. NEII submitted this index, as well as guidelines for improved escalator maintenance standards, to the ASME for inclusion in the A17.1 and A17.3 codes, and A17.2 Inspector’s Manual. State and local authorities govern inspection and maintenance of escalators through these ASME codes. These code changes became effective on January 31, 2001.
According to Ed Donoghue, NEII codes and safety consultant, many entrapment incidents are the result of poor maintenance. For this reason, NEII has sought the authority of the ASME to set improved maintenance standards.
“NEII and its member companies have shown their ongoing commitment to safety by participating in the ASME codes development process, investing in new escalator manufacturing processes and designs, developing new safety devices and features, and improving maintenance standards,” says Donoghue.
NEII also is committing resources to working with state and local authorities to adopt the latest ASME escalator regulations. “We are sure these code changes will help reduce the potential for entrapment incidents and help improve overall escalator safety,” adds Walker. “We are committed to helping all responsible parties understand the positive implications of improved maintenance standards.”
In addition to pursuing these code changes, NEII is conducting a targeted awareness campaign to help educate building owners and managers on the importance of injury prevention through proper escalator maintenance. This includes informing them of supplements to current codes, including, among other things, the escalator entrapment index and in-field index measurement tool.
The National Elevator Industry, Inc. is a national trade association located in Teaneck, New Jersey. Its members are firms that manufacture, install and/or maintain elevators, escalators, moving walks and other short-range transportation products. For more information about NEII, log onto its Web site at www.neii.org.