As a personal injury attorney here in Atlanta, Georgia, I’m of the opinion that there’s a lesson to be learned from every case. The motto of the story I share today is fairly clear: Stick to the plans.
It was all there. The 2009 construction permits and blueprints for the elevator in the Massachusetts Mall called for the installation of barriers between the steps and the plexiglass divider. But there was no such barrier there this March when the momentum of the escalator pulled a 4-year-old boy between the gap and to his death while his parents and mall patrons looked on. Now, the mall, its owner, the construction company and the escalator corporation face a sweeping negligence lawsuit, according to The Boston Globe.
During my research, I found the escalator company is one that has come under fire before. In October of 2009, a faulty component of one of their escalator’s at the St. Louis Blues Stadium is believed to have caused it to malfunction. Several steps buckled and collapsed into each other resulting in a three-story slide for some fans. Thirteen people were injured in that accident.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that falls like these cause 75 percent of the 6000 escalator injuries per year in the U.S., and, in many instances, these accidents could have been avoided. Take the unfortunate death of this young boy, for example. There were ample opportunities for the problem to be rectified. Over two years had passed since installation and following the accident, two escalator inspectors were suspended for repeated failure to report the oversized gap in the escalator. Retroactively, it’s easy to identify the culprit when things like this happen but there are proactive steps you can take to protect yourself and your children as well.
Below are some escalator safety tips:
• Hold the hands of small children and do not allow them to sit or play on escalator steps;
• Do not lean against the handrail;
• Secure loose clothing before stepping onto an escalator. This includes scarves and long coats;
• Tie all shoes laces tightly;
• Note where the emergency shutoff button is before alighting;
• Avoid placing purses or packages on top the handrail;
• Always look ahead, stand in the middle of the steps and hold on to the handrail