Sharing on “Escalator Safety” on CNA938 – Live Radio on 14 June 2019

Mr Ng Swee Peng was invited by CNA938 – Live Radio to share his expert opinions and thoughts on “Escalator Safety” during “Asia First with Arnold Gay and Yasmin Jonkers” on 14 June 2019 (8.45am to 9.00am). Below is an outline of the sharing session which was edited for clarity:

Radio host asked how often should the escalator be maintained in Singapore.

Mr Ng replied that escalator is maintained on a regular monthly basis. He added that the escalator does not maintain by itself. It requires skilled technician to maintain and oversees the performance of the whole escalator as it is a continuously moving machine which stops only when the safety triggers.

Radio host asked whether they are authorized, well trained and certified service provider.

Mr Ng replied that they have to be authorized and certified but whether the technicians produce their skill sets or have the necessary knowledge to diagnose the escalator fault would probably have to be discussed further in future.

Radio host asked why is there an average of 1 escalator accident a day ; and whether it is due to the unsafe behaviour of the passengers or maintenance issues.

Mr Ng replied that it may be due to the unsafe behavior of the passenger; whilst some may be due to maintenance issues such as safety switches fail to trigger when safety line is activated.

He added that if the safety feature did not function as intended which is to stop the escalator when safety switch triggers, it may lead to incidents such as breaking of steps due to objects stuck in between the two moving steps.

Radio host asked whether we need to do more to make sure that escalator functions as intended or to educate passengers how to use escalator safely.

Mr Ng replied that besides educating passenger on the safe use of escalator, we need to ensure that the escalator service technician knows where the safety switches are located; and know how to diagnose the failure of the switches.

He added that he noticed service technicians tend to perform power reset of the escalator whenever there is a fault without detailed troubleshooting. He highlighted that power resetting is not a permanent solution as the fault will re-surface if it is not rectified.

Radio host asked how passengers should respond in the event of an escalator accident.

Mr Ng replied that passengers or any passer-by may activate the emergency stop switches which are available at the lower and upper decks, and in some escalators, an additional stop switch is available at the middle of the escalator whenever they encounter an escalator accident.

A radio listener asked whether it is feasible to install obstruction bars at the entrance of the escalator so as to stop passengers from pushing in strollers, prams and luggage into the escalator.

Mr Ng replied that though it may deter passengers from bringing in strollers, prams and luggage into the escalator, it may indirectly slow down the traffic flow of passenger entering and exiting the escalator.

Another radio listener asked what is the maximum load that we should take note.

Mr Ng replied that it depends on the rated capacity of the step as different step widths have different load requirements. Generally, it is safe to say that it allows 1 passenger per step.

He added that that passengers can ride the escalator in either directions; and he recommends the escalator to switch its travelling direction on a bi-monthly basis so as to improve the escalator operation and reliability.

Radio host asked what advice does he give to his students during his lecture.

Mr Ng replied that he described riding an escalator is like riding a motorbike as it is not in a covered vehicle. Passengers must consciously be aware of the environment variables and escalator’s moving objects ; and to take safety precaution when riding an escalator. He also told his students that they must ensure that service technicians do their due diligence to ensure the safety of the escalators such as maintaining the safety switches and ensuring the functionality of the switches at all times.