I have noticed a new and alarming trend in OHS practices currently being implemented in
major shopping precincts. A practice that will make us all question our
competency as ambulatory adults and raises serious concerns about the physical
safety of all members of society when attending shopping centres and other
public spaces that are not implementing these same measures.
Escalators are breaking down, requiring servicing or maintenance. As a result said escalators are being turned off, left stationery where they previously conveyed unassuming passengers either up or down between floors.
This is where the dangers, lurking beneath apparently rise to the surface.
Previously, when not operating, these escalators – now death traps – were still accessible by the unassuming public as a standard staircase. Despite the steps all falling within Australian standards for their height and depth, stationery escalators always feel clumsy to negotiate compared to their moving counterparts.
This was perception, when not moving an escalator does in fact become a set of visually elaborate but functionally standard set of ordinary steps.
Not any more.
Twice this month I have encountered non operating escalators, in both the Bourke Street Mall and the QV Building that were not accessible to the shopping public. In both cases not only was there a plastic barriers blocking the entrance and exit to the escalator but there was also a security officer stationed directly in front of the escalator to ensure no-one received clandestine access to the steps.
It is to be noted that in both cases the escalator steps were all in tact, there were no gaping holes and not active maintenance crews.
The steps are too dangerous for the untrained shopper. Only professional step-climbers with the appropriate certification, training and experience were going to be allowed to access these steps.
Stationery steps are dangerous people. Rumour has it that stationery steps may cause cancer.
At QV shoppers were directed to the fire exit to ascend from the basement to the ground level. The fire exit that consists of stationery steps!
The fire exit that consists of stationery steps that are narrower, steeper and more difficult to access than the stationery steps of the escalator.
It does make me wonder which other common pieces of infrastructure which have been trusted by millions of people without major incident and therefore considered safe are actually unmitigated death traps that need to be removed immediately. I do not know what will be next but I am sure that A Current Affair/Today Tonight will soon uncover the truth and that breakfast television shows will follow up with an outside broadcast including a panel of experts providing the general public 5 basic tips for survival if they encounter such hazards: How to drink from a public bubbler without drowning.