Elevators and escalators: A threat to workers and users

By Steven Miller
Senior Partner

It is a common trope in horror movies to see someone get hurt in an elevator or pulled into the gears of an escalator. You might think that these are extreme situations made for movies, but the reality is that these types of accidents do happen. People get hurt in elevators and on escalators many times each year.

The reason that people get hurt on elevators and escalators usually comes down to malfunctions or not paying attention to the risks. Other times, people are hurt when they’re working on these devices, installing them or repairing reported malfunctions. As always, it’s vital that everyone is as cautious as possible when using these potentially dangerous methods of transportation.

How dangerous is it to ride an escalator?

In a functioning escalator that is up to code, the risk of using the escalator should be minor. There is always a potential to fall because of the escalator moving. There is also a risk of being caught in the escalator once you reach the top or bottom of the stairs. In both cases, there is a potential for serious injuries if the escalator is not stopped immediately.

What are common causes of death on escalators or elevators?

Looking at data collected by the Center for Construction Research and Training, some of the common causes of death include falling, getting struck by the elevator or escalator, being trapped due to a collapse of the escalator or elevator, or being struck by one of these machines.The majority of deaths were linked to falls. Many of the deaths and injuries seen each year actually occurred when the escalators or elevators were being installed, repaired or worked around.

How many people are hurt or killed on escalators or elevators each year in the United States?

Based on the most recent data, incidents involving escalators and elevators result in around 30 deaths each year. Another 17,000 people are injured. Elevators are responsible for over half of serious injuries and around 90 percent of deaths.

Although the majority of injuries involve those who are hired to repair or install these devices, the reality is that many people are hurt using them. It is important for business owners and property owners to have someone perform maintenance on their elevators and escalators regularly. This will help prevent serious malfunctions, which could end up harming those who are using these methods of transportation.

About the Author
Steven Miller, Esq. is the founding member and Senior Partner in Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. Mr. Miller’s extensive career as a trial attorney spans five decades. He tries cases for the catastrophically injured victims of construction site accidents, motor vehicle and premises accidents caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Miller is a detail oriented, tenacious attorney committed to achieving the maximum results for his clients; he has obtained numerous seven figure verdicts and settlements.