As architects continue to use escalators and moving walks in workplace and retail environments to increase internal people transportation, Bureau Veritas is warning businesses to ensure they are applying the correct regulations.

The confusion occurs because three separate sets of regulations currently apply to the duty holders of escalators and moving walks. Which rules are applicable is dependent on the people using the equipment, and this can cause a grey area dependent on the location.

Jeff Kennedy, Technical Manager of Lifts & Escalators at Bureau Veritas: “Due to different regulations applying, the management of escalator safety can be a complicated area for businesses and organisations, especially when both employees and the public will be using escalators in the same building.

“If escalators are provided for use by workers in workplaces, then they are subject to Provision of Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER). These regulations place duties on people and companies who own, operate, or have control over work equipment, and the responsibilities lie with businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.

“When escalators are not used by people at work, such as in shopping centres and airports, then PUWER is not applicable. However, under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, the duty holder still has responsibility for health and safety for people they don’t employ.”

“Regulation 19 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 mean that the regime of maintenance, inspection and examination required under PUWER, may be entirely practicable in managing the risks, which is evidenced by many insurers imposing demands for similar levels of risk management to cover public liability.

Jeff added: “As escalators and moving walkways are installed normally in busy public places, vulnerable users such as children, older people and those with disabilities, are at particular risk if the equipment is not maintained correctly or up to current standards.

“To assist businesses and organisations, the Safety Assessment Federation in consultation with HSE, has prepared guidelines for the safe operation of escalators and moving walks. This guidance is purely advisory, it is not mandatory. Yet, it will normally be regarded as sufficient to comply with the relevant health and safety rules.”

The Safety Assessment Federation guidelines provide owners and other duty holders recommendations on risk control, and reduction to help prevent accidents as well as technical advice on testing and examination, reporting formats and suitable periodicities between examinations and tests.