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Code Corner

Code Corner 2006.3 Escalator or Moving Walk Startup

Code Corner by Patrick J. WelchAs chair of the American Public Transit Association (APTA) Elevator and Escalator Task Force, I have created a Working Group to focus on issues of escalator starting procedures. With the pressure to keep escalators running for the public, there are occasions when a decision must be made if starting an escalator under certain conditions should occur.

This places the mechanic, contractor, and ultimately the Owner in the position to make a decision balancing safety against the need to provide access to the passengers needing the escalator. Our goal in the APTA Working Group was to establish less subjective standards to help make these decisions at start up, but after an interruption in service as well.

As we rely on ASME A17.1 as the basis for our decisions, it quickly became apparent that there was no need to develop new standards. ASME A17.1-2000 had an excellent, clear, and unambiguous requirement that provides virtually all the steps required for ANY operator or owner of an escalator. Requirement Escalator or Moving Walk Startup states:

Authorized personnel shall check the escalator or moving walk prior to permitting use. All authorized personnel who are assigned to start this equipment shall be given a copy and be provided with training to ensure that they understand and comply with the following procedures.

  1. Prior to starting the unit, observe the steps or pallets and both landing areas to ensure no persons are on the unit or about to board. Run the unit away from the landing.
  2. Verify correct operation of the starting switch.
  3. Verify correct operation of the stop buttons and alarm, if furnished.
  4. Visually examine the steps or treadway for damaged or missing components; combplates for broken or missing teeth; skirt panels and balustrades for damage.
  5. Verify that both handrails travel at substantially the same speed as the steps or the treadway, are free from damage or pinch points, and that entry guards are in place.
  6. Visually verify that all steps, pallets, or the treadway is properly positioned.
  7. Verify that ceiling intersection guards, antislide devices, deck barricades, and caution signs are securely in place.
  8. Verify that demarcation lighting is illuminated, if furnished.
  9. Check for uniform lighting on steps/tread not contrasting with surrounding areas.
  10. Verify that the safety zone is clear of obstacles and that the landing area and adjacent floor area are free from foreign matter and slipping or tripping hazards.
  11. Check for any unusual noise or vibration during operation.

If any of these conditions is unsatisfactory, the unit shall be placed out of service, barricade the landing areas, and notify the responsible party of the problem. Equipment subject to 24-h operation shall be checked daily by authorized personnel.

This rule is rarely enforced or understood. For example, item (d) would clearly prohibit the escalator starting with damaged or missing teeth. One missing tooth is not in compliance. Think of how many escalators you see with the anti friction coating missing in the upper transition curve. How often are balustrade panels or other items damaged when the escalator is turned on?

This is a clearly written requirement. By no means is it easy to comply with. It is our hope that readers of this commentary will take a close look at their own start up procedures and standards to ensure that the passengers riding their escalators are being protected by adherence to these mandatory procedures. VTX

We at VTX®┬ádeal with code issues on a regular basis. It is very likely that your question is not new to us, and we can help quickly. It is not uncommon for us to bring a request for interpretation for our clients before A17.1. Just remember that ASME wants the requirements to be clearly understood, so get it clarified, it could dramatically affect your project or operation!