Safeelevator interviews Fartash Razmjoo (FR) and Anthony Andon (AA) about their recent publication.
EW: What is Escalator Safety about?
FR: As specified in the name of the book, we’ve concentrated on accidents and safety on escalators. We studied accidents around the world, tried to categorize their causes and explained the safety features that can prevent them. We also compared ASME A17.1/CSA B44 with EN 115, explaining code requirements from manufacture to installation, as well as usage.
The first section includes definitions of escalator parts, code requirements for each part and the selection of the proper escalator. In the second section, there is a brief introduction to A17.1/B44 and EN 115, and in sections three through eight, we study accidents, their causes and preventative measures according to the code requirements. We studied accidents that occur during the installation process, passenger travel and maintenance. We also provided prevention plans, safety features and code requirements for each.
EW: What was your inspiration for writing the book?
FR: After years of working in this industry, I felt that I had to share my experience with other people, to bring safety to their attention more than before and to help others make escalator transportation safer.
AA: Considering that there are not a lot of resources on escalators and maybe no separate resource on escalator accidents and safety measures, we decided to provide this book as a reference for training technicians, as well as a source of information for people who ride escalators.
EW: Why is safety an important issue in the vertical‐transportation industry?
AA: Since passengers rely on escalators, a lack of safety can be very dangerous and eliminate trust in the vertical-transportation industry. Obviously, without safety systems and reliable devices, there would be no such thing as skyscrapers, shopping malls and subways.
FR: From time to time, we hear about sad escalator accidents. I think most of them can be avoided if simple safety measures are considered. Despite all the great advantages of the escalator, it can be a horrible device if safety devices are not working or considered. Like every useful device, safety is the most important item. Can you imagine an airplane without serious safety standards and inspections? Of course not! I think with every device that deals with people, safety should be the first priority.
EW: Why are escalator accidents happening, and what can we do about them?
AA: In the book, we divided the causes of accidents into three major categories or some combination of the three: lack of proper maintenance, unsafe riding practices, and faulty design or selection.
For example, one of the leading causes in accidents is the public’s lack of knowledge or attention to safe riding practices. This problem can be reduced by training. I believe we should start this kind of training in schools and by teaching children to exercise safety and use caution on elevators and escalators.
FR: On the other hand, there are a lot of accidents due to lack of proper maintenance. I think the biggest challenge in this industry is the level of maintenance, which has a great impact on the number of accidents. This problem comes to the fore when we look at the competitive maintenance market. All companies are trying to reduce costs and the price of maintenance, and, so, sometimes they sacrifice maintenance by reducing the time they spend on services, avoiding replacement of worn parts, or not performing periodic tests regularly and so on. Obviously, a lack of proper maintenance will increase the risk of accidents. I hope that, by training people and focusing the attention of all parties involved on the importance of safety, we will see safer vertical transportation for all people, especially children.
EW: How does the book benefit readers?
FR: We tried to make the book useful to people who are involved in the industry, as well as those who are just riding the escalators. Sections five, six and seven, which explain accident types, causes and preventative measures, are useful to everybody and can bring everybody’s attention to the possible risks and dangers of escalators. This book is also a good source of information for firefighters, insurance inspectors, owners and architects. There are a lot of safety-related issues, such as selecting the proper escalator, conducting traffic analysis, planning for enough space around the device and installing building-safety features that are important to architects and building owners.
EW: How did you go about writing the book? Did you have a process you followed throughout the project?
AA: This book was first published in Iran in 2013. We wanted to answer the need for a resource on escalator safety and try to improve the riding public’s knowledge of possible risks of and safety on escalators.
FR: Facing some horrible escalator accidents — including the death of one of my technicians during maintenance — motivated me to publish this book and republish it in English. I understood that most people who use escalators do not know the risks and possible dangers of these devices. Even some of the technicians who work on escalators do not follow all the safety rules and are not cautious enough. We started to study the accidents, tried to understand their causes and then provided action plans based on code requirements.
EW: What are some of the important changes you have seen in the vertical‐transportation industry?
FR: I think using printed circuit boards and new controllers rapidly improved the capability of elevating devices. Today, destination dispatch is a great jump forward for vertical transportation. Machine-room‐less elevators and new belts are also important changes in the industry.
AA: And having access to new, upgraded versions of the codes is a great way to stay on top of all these changes and new technologies.
EW: How do you think the vertical‐transportation industry will change in the future?
AA: Maglev technology can change vertical transportation in the future. In the escalator industry, the Levytator is also a revolutionary system that can make great changes in the future.
EW: What has been one of the highlights of your career?
FR: I have been in charge of some very big escalator installation projects in Iran that had special conditions and time schedules. One project, the installation of more than 100 escalators in the Tehran subway, was one of the most complicated and difficult projects I’ve ever seen. Other projects I’ve overseen include the installation of 60 escalators in the Isfahan City Centre and more than 50 escalators in the Kourosh shopping centr. I’m very pleased that I have been part of these huge projects.
AA: I have published five books about elevators and escalators as author or coauthor. Safety is my passion.
EW: What challenges have you faced? How did you overcome them?
FR: Moving to Canada and working in a new environment has been a major challenge for me. By reading and trying to stay updated, and with the support of my colleagues, I have been able to overcome this big challenge.
EW: What is your advice for young people in the vertical‐transportation industry today?
FR and AA: We suggest young people in this industry use all available resources to improve their knowledge. It is always good to learn from the experiences of more senior people working in this industry, but they should not rely solely on these experiences but try to study all available resources and books on elevators and escalators.