They are the mode of transport of choice for millions of people every week as they make their way around multi-storey shopping complexes across the country.
But now the escalator is causing a headache for health and safety bosses as accidents on moving staircases spiral.
A fifth of all injuries reported to a Midland council over a two year period were suffered on escalators, it was revealed today, sparking a warning from town hall chiefs.
Between January 2011 and 2013, a total of 11 of 55 accidents referred to Cannock Chase Council involved an escalator.
Ten occurred at the town’s shopping centre and one at the Tesco store in Hednesford.
Concerns over the number of reported cases prompted health and safety investigations, which found there were no faults with the escalators themselves.
The majority of accidents involved people with mobility problems, those who use a walking frame or crutches, or had existing medical conditions such as low blood pressure.
Most involved people over the age of 75. In all cases an ambulance attended and the most serious injury was a broken arm. All of these accidents could have been prevented if the person had chosen to take the lift instead, the council said.
Cannock Shopping Centre has teamed up with Cannock Chase Council to raise awareness of the problem.
This has included installing new floor signage at the top and bottom of each escalator, guiding people on how to use the escalator safely and directing people to the nearest lift.
Councillor Muriel Davis, health and wellbeing portfolio leader, said: “We are concerned about the number of accidents and want people to be aware of the risks so they can make an informed choice and use a lift or escalator safely.”
Natal Chapman, Cannock Shopping Centre manager, said: “Lifts are provided as an alternative in our shopping centre where there is an escalator and I would urge residents in poor health, using a walking aid, with a buggy or even just carrying heavy or bulky shopping bags to make full use of them.”
Shoppers Jean and Alec Bate, both 79, say they do not have problems using the escalators.
Mr Bate, who uses a walking stick, said: “I find I am well balanced on it and haven’t had a problem.
“If I was uneasy I wouldn’t have a problem using the lift as there is one available.”
Florence Martin travels from Stafford to Cannock to shop with her friend Pamela Cooper.
She said: “I use a stick and I do find the lift better sometimes.
“It can be a bit difficult using the escalator but I don’t find that I have many problems.
“It is sensible advice.”
The ‘step into a lift’ campaign will see the council’s Food and Safety Team distributing posters to GP surgeries and local centres encouraging residents to use a lift or step onto an escalator safely.
The aim is to raise awareness of the risks and reduce the number of accidents involving escalators in the district.