Escalators as in DIN EN 115
Over the past few days several reports in the press regarding a new EU Directive banning the use of baby carriages and push chairs on escalators have caused confusion, and in some cases have included erroneous information which needs to be corrected.
(2010-01-20) Escalators are designed as high capacity means of transporting persons. When used as intended, they are a comfortable means of safely moving pedestrians from one level to another. However, they are not intended to provide barrier-free access, as this is provided by lifts.
Accidents involving baby carriages and push chairs (strollers) on escalators are unfortunately not as rare as they should be. Such accidents most frequently occur when vehicles (especially those with steerable front wheels) are not kept straight when pushed onto or off the moving step and thus become unstable, or when they become twisted or trapped between balustrades (handrail supports). Children's carriages and push chairs are not designed for escalator steps. And because the wheels are not normally locked when a vehicle is pushed onto the escalator, it is easy to lose control over the vehicle if the person holding it loses their balance or is pushed from behind when the emergency stop is activated (purposefully or accidentally).
As of 29 December 2009 escalators must meet the essential health and safety requirements of the new European Directive 2006/42/EG (the "revised Machinery Directive"), which is implemented in Germany by the 9th Ordinance to the Equipment and Product Safety Act (Machinery Ordinance - 9th GPSGV). A new passage in Annex I to the Directive states that:
1.1.2. Principles of safety integration
(a) Machinery must be designed and constructed so that it is fitted for its function, and can be operated, adjusted and maintained without putting persons at risk when these operations are carried out under the conditions foreseen but also taking into account any reasonably foreseeable misuse thereof.
The aim of measures taken must be to eliminate any risk throughout the foreseeable lifetime of the machinery including the phases of transport, assembly, dismantling, disabling and scrapping.
(b) In selecting the most appropriate methods, the manufacturer or his authorised representative must apply the following principles, in the order given:
— eliminate or reduce risks as far as possible (inherently safe machinery design and construction),
— take the necessary protective measures in relation to risks that cannot be eliminated,
— inform users of the residual risks .....
While the previous Machinery Directive, 98/37/EC, only spoke of "foreseeable abnormal situations", the new Directive goes further, requiring the manufacturer to take "any reasonably foreseeable misuse" into consideration. If this is not done, the manufacturer is liable without fault (strict liability) for any accidents. Taking baby carriages and push chairs on escalators is a "misuse" that is not only "reasonably foreseeable" but a common phenomenon.
These specifications of the Machinery Directive have been taken into consideration in the new edition of EN 115-1 which was published in Germany in March 2009 as DIN EN 115-1. Subclause 22.214.171.124.1 states that:
The following mandatory action signs and prohibition signs for the user shall be fixed in the vicinity of the entrances:
a) "Small children shall be held firmly"
b) "Dogs shall be carried"
c) "Use the handrail"
d) "Push chairs not permitted" ...
This is not significantly different from the previous January 1995 edition of the standard which also points out the possible need for warning signs:
Additional notices will possibly be necessary when required by local conditions, e.g. "Use permitted only with footwear", "Transportation of bulky and heavy loads not permitted", "Transportation of push chairs not permitted".
The above information for operators of escalators is no longer sufficient for escalators commissioned from 2010 on. However, it should be taken into account to a greater extent when assessing the safety of existing escalators and when discussing the obligations of the operator in the case of such accidents.
In Germany, reports in the media regarding signs prohibiting the use of push chairs on escalators have led to much discussion. Those who disregard such signs are not liable to prosecution, but do so at their own risk. In other European countries the fact that baby carriages do not belong on escalators is a matter of course. This is also true in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Russia and South Africa, where EN 115 is applied. In international work on harmonized escalator standards there is also consensus regarding the prohibition of push chairs on escalators.
European Standard EN 115-1 was developed with broad participation across Europe. The responsible committee included escalator manufacturers, operators and designers, test institutes, government agencies, and employer's liability associations. During the "public enquiry" phase which lasted five months, the public was allowed to make comments on a draft version of this document, upon which it was presented for final voting at European level: It was accepted without any opposing votes.
For more information contact:
Mechanical Engineering Standards Committee in DIN