Bureau Veritas highlights “grey area” in escalator safety due to “multiple regulations”

As architects continue to design-in escalators and moving walkways within workplaces and retail environments to increase internal people transportation, the testing, inspection and certification body Bureau Veritas is warning businesses to ensure they’re applying the correct regulations.

The confusion occurs because three separate sets of regulations currently apply to the duty holders of escalators and moving walkways. Which rules are applicable is dependent on the people using the equipment. According to Bureau Veritas, this can cause a “grey area” dependent on the location.

Jeff Kennedy, technical manager for lifts and escalators at Bureau Veritas, stated: “Due to different regulations applying, the management of escalator safety can be a complicated area for businesses and organisations, and especially so when both employees and the public will be using escalators in the same building. If escalators are provided for use by workers in workplaces, then they’re subject to the Provision of Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) which place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. The responsibilities lie with businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.”

Kennedy continued: “When escalators are not used by people at work, such as in shopping centres and airports, then PUWER isn’t applicable. However, under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, the duty holder still has responsibility for Health and Safety for people they don’t employ.”

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Regulation 19 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 mean that the regime of maintenance, inspection and examination required under PUWER may be entirely practicable in managing the risks, which is evidenced by many insurers imposing demands for similar levels of risk management to cover public liability.

“As escalators and moving walkways are usually installed in busy public places,” added Kennedy, “vulnerable users such as children, older people and those with disabilities are at particular risk if the equipment isn’t maintained correctly or up to current standards. To assist businesses and organisations, in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive, the Safety Assessment Federation has prepared guidelines for the safe operation of escalators and moving walkways. This guidance is purely advisory. It’s not mandatory. Yet it will normally be regarded as sufficient to comply with the relevant Health and Safety rules.”

The Safety Assessment Federation guidelines provide owners and other duty holders with recommendations on risk control and reduction to help prevent accidents as well as technical advice on testing and examination, reporting formats and suitable periodicities between examinations and tests.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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