The slow steady rhythm of the escalator carried two women and one man down from the upper level. Hundreds travel the path every day without incident, but not this time. The woman’s pants were slightly long for her height. When she got to the bottom, the pant leg caught in the escalator. Just like the movies, things seemed to move in slow motion. She began tipping over and finally landed face first on the floor. The escalator pulled her pants off inch by inch as her companions tried to pull them from the grasp of churning steel. Several others sprang into action, trying to find the emergency shut off button to no avail. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, building security shut the escalator down. The woman stood up to a small crowd gasping in horror, with a bruised ego and ripped clothing, but no other apparent injuries.
I was mortified for the poor woman and think about her every time I see the escalator. She could have been seriously hurt, and was lucky she wasn’t. Watching people go up and down the escalator, most are distracted by a conversation, reading, texting or talking on a mobile device, looking for the person they are meeting, carrying large objects, etc. Anything but thinking about the risk the escalator presents. And the small sign indication caution along the bottom rail goes unnoticed by those riding up or down.
There aren’t too many vivid examples like this that highlight a very obvious risk that most people don’t even think about. But these sorts of risks are in every business and go unnoticed. The outcomes can be minor, based on luck, or severe. How are you evaluating and managing risks in your business?