Ask an elevating device safety officer: Can closed escalators be used as a stairway?

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Q. Can an escalator be used as a stairway when the escalator shuts down?

A. While there is currently no specific requirement that prohibits using an escalator as a stairway, there are two reasons why the escalator should not be used as a stairway.

  1. Escalator steps do not comply with the building code. The rise of the steps is generally too high and, depending on where the escalator is stopped, there are usually some steps which are not even. Both these situations can cause a tripping hazard. This is particularly hazardous when walking down the escalator.
  2. If the reason for the stoppage of the escalator is unknown, using the escalators as a stairway may create a hazard. If the reason for the stoppage was due to a mechanical failure such as a brake failure or a main shaft or chain failure the escalator could roll away under load causing serious injury.

Escalators which are not in service should be barricaded and pedestrians should be directed to a stairway or elevator until the escalator is repaired.

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