How the History of the Escalator Makes You Safer Today

Escalators were first put into use in 1892, and their design has not changed too much since then. Over the years, a variety of mishaps, safety issues and accidents have happened on escalators around the world. A semi-annual NYC escalator inspection helps ensure that the escalators in your building will not contribute to the statistics of injuries caused on these moving stair systems.

Landing Platforms

Landing platforms for embarking and disembarking from the escalator have changed only a little in their design. Today’s escalators have a bigger edge between the horizontal surface of the landing and the opening where the steps of the escalator flatten and go in. Some texture on the landing is designed to stop people from slipping and tumbling backwards. In 2002, New Delhi escalators featured a new landing platform design to collect lint and hairs and prevent them from going into the inner workings and catching fire. Such a fire killed 31 people in 1987 in London.


The movement of the steps on an escalator put people at risk of entrapment and strangulation. Loose strings or threads from clothing have caused several fatalities on escalators over the years. Designers have worked to make gaps smaller. Laser detection devices like the laser eyes on garages have also been tested in order to detect threads and stop the escalator before a person could be severely injured.

Future Designs

Each year, more than 11,000 people get hurt climbing stairs, and far fewer are hurt on escalators. The per-use injury rate for stairs is higher than escalators. Routine inspections of escalators ensure a low accident rate. Some future designs for escalators include the Levytator, which is two moving stairways that do not double back on themselves like the current conveyor belt type of escalator design.