May 6, 2019 | Mark Paradies

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Should Baggage Be Banned?

A fatal accident at the Detroit Metro Airport raises a question …

Should luggage be banned from escalators?

Here’s the accident description (from the Detroit Free Press):

A man met his wife and 90 year old mother-in-law at the airport baggage claim. He decided to take their luggage (a large red wheeled suitcase and a roll-aboard bag) to the car and then pick them up in the pick-up zone. What a gentlemanly fellow!

He was 71 years old and was wearing flip-flops.

He took the luggage to the escalator and started up. However, the big red bag wasn’t sitting right on the escalator step and he tried to adjust it. He slipped, lost his balance, and fell – breaking his neck.

Taking luggage on an escalator is a common practice. There were elevators nearby but there were no warning signs to prevent people from taking luggage up the escalator.

What were the Causal Factors for this incident?

  • The decision to use the escalator
  • The bag being improperly positioned
  • The decision to adjust it
  • The slip
  • The failure to catch the slip
  • How he landed

Did the man’s age and the flip-flops contribute to the accident?

What would the root causes be if you took the accident’s Causal Factors through the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree®?

Escalator accidents aren’t rare but fatalities on escalators are.

Would a warning sign be an adequate corrective action?

What do you think?

  • Is a root cause analysis and significant corrective actions justified?
  • Would warning signs make a difference?
  • Will you stop using the escalator when you have a bag?
  • When will you modify your behavior as you get older?
  • Should flip-flops be prohibited on escalators?
  • If everyone stopped using escalators when they had a bag, would airports grind to a halt?

Leave your suggestions as a comment…

Accident, Current Events, Human Performance
Show Comments

One Reply to “Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Should Baggage Be Banned?”

  • Kreg Worrest says:

    Interesting incident. Nobody gets training on how to use an escalator – it’s kind of common sense. But maybe it’s not so common sense when dragging luggage. The Detroit Free Press article says the man had the bag on the step behind him. Unfortunately the article doesn’t specifically say whether the man was using the up escalator or the down but his method of placing the bag behind him probably contributed to the problem. If he’s going up, and has the bag in front of him, adjusting it is much easier that dealing with a bag on the step behind and below. If he’s going down, placing the bag in front of him would allow him to re-adjust the bag before the escalator separated into individual steps. Much easier than turning around to adjust a bag behind you.
    Signage might help but maybe not – how hard can riding an escalator be? Apparently it’s harder than one might think based on the 40-50 incidents per year at Detroit Metro as reported in the article.

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