Escalator brushes

1 minute read

If, like me, you have ever wondered what those little brushes along the sides of escalators are for, read on. Be warned, however: The information that follows is not entirely pleasant.

I travel a fair bit, in my work. Travel involves plenty of flying, driving, and walking, in varying amounts. When walking, one of those little curiosities I have often noticed, and only recently gotten around to looking into, is the strange little nylon brushes that line the edge of escalators and moving walkways: escalator-1016756_1920---Copy1

When looking them up, an indicator of their purpose is revealed in the proper name: escalator safety brushes.

Otis, a manufacturer of escalators and other various uplifting products (ha, ha), provides a useful guide on the benefits of these brushes here.

From the guide:

… the brushes greatly reduce the probability of side-step entrapments or pinching.”

Oh boy. I knew I was in for it when I read those terms. In general, when euphemistic language is needed to describe an accident or injury, it is safe to assume that the nature thereof is especially graphic. In my brief searching, I’ve identified some terms related to these accidents, and summary descriptions of them:

  • Step/Side-step/skirt entrapment # Getting caught (typically a garment or hair) between the step of the escalator/walkway and its edge.
  • Degloving # Use your imagination. Hint: You weren’t wearing a glove :|2

Given how powerful they are (with enough pull force to continue operating with many grown humans standing on them at once, and enough support force to keep those humans from collapsing the whole structure), the concept of being eaten alive ripped to pieces entrapped or pinched by an escalator is one of those morbid images that we all know in the backs of our minds is a possibility, but typically try not to think about. Like car accidents, however, these incidents can be just a few inches away from us in our daily lives.

These accidents are frequent enough to earn the attention of safety researchers preparing aggregate reports, and there are more than a few headlines in various news sources about occurences.

One of the many important reminders that we can take to pay attention to our surroundings. Remember to be vigilant, and stay safe.

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