February 8, 2021

How dirty are escalator Handrails?  Take a look at this on Digg.com.

Dirty Escalator Handrails, is Covid-19 Lurking?

Suppose you use an escalator frequently.  Maybe you ride escalators at the shopping mall, office building, hotel, stadium, the airport, or the subway.  You may own or operate escalators as part of your business or commercial enterprise. Are you afraid of Covid-19?

And, It’s Not Just dirt!

Did you know that recent studies have shown that many significant diseases, even SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, are often transmitted from infected surfaces to your fingers, then to your eyes, nose, or mouth?  While initially, scientists thought Covid-19 was mostly contracted through airborne contamination, new research shows that contaminated surfaces are also quite hazardous to our health.

In our testing, we have found food, E. coli, urine, mucus, feces, and blood on escalator handrails. And where there is mucus, you may also find cold and flu viruses.

Dr. Germ, aka. Charles Gerba, Ph.D. March 2020

We’ve found respiratory flora on handrails, which makes sense because people cough into their hands, then touch the rails.

Philip Tierno, a professor of microbiology and pathology at the New York University School of Medicine

The Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, Geelong, VIC, Australia two months ago published a study on the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on common surfaces finding that SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious for significantly more extended time periods than generally considered possible. For porous surfaces – like rubber handrails – infectious viral levels are recoverable up to 7 days. Non-porous materials – like plastic handrails – may harbor infectious levels of Covid-19 virus for up to 3 days, with one viable Covid-19 sample recovered 28 days after it was deposited.

Germs: Covid-19 Viruses, Bacteria, Fungi
Germs: Bacteria, Viruses, Fungi

So, Clean and Disinfect

The current CDC guidelines Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility require that frequently touched surfaces, like escalator handrails, should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily.  The Food Industry Association published guidance on April 14, 2020, COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection for Human-Touch Surfaces requires cleaning these surfaces every 15 minutes to 2 hours. Many local ordinances in reaction to Covid-19 require cleaning high-touch surfaces every 4 hours. Whether you need to clean every day, 15 minutes, or other periods in between, this becomes an expensive and ineffective proposition with staff, hand-rags, and over the counter cleaners.  The Thomsen Way provides you an efficient, effective, and convenient solution to ensure your traveling public’s safety, cleanliness, and health.

Hold on That Handrail? Are you Serious?

Perhaps you remember when you were a child, your parents telling you to “Hold on to that handrail!” when you were riding the escalator. I wonder if you tell your children that today.  For the past ten years or more, the trend has been to do the opposite. We now routinely tell our kid, “Don’t Touch that Handrail!”  And today, with Covid-19, most people don’t want to touch any surface or handle.  “Protect yourself: Play it safe: Avoid touching handrails altogether,” recommends Gerba unless you absolutely have to – in which case, give yourself a generous squirt of hand sanitizer afterward.

Escalator Accident, Danger, Safety
Person not holding the handrail, falls down the escalator

But, It’s Not Safe


Escalator manufacturers consider handrails an expensive but vital part of escalator safety. As a result of the fear of holding on to the handrail, serious escalator accidents requiring a hospital visit and deaths have been rising. In 2013 one escalator accident seriously injured 19 people. In 2014 China experienced 37 death due to escalator accidents. Escalator owners’ and operators’ liability costs are going up. The traveling public pays the price for their lack of confidence in these vital safety features’ safety and cleanliness. When you don’t properly maintain your handrails, they become ineffective, dangerous, and unhealthy. The service life of the handrails is shortened, customers get hurt, and insurance is more expensive.

Ride Safe

To avoid suffering and injury on an escalator, The U.S. CPSC publishes these safety tips:

  1. Make sure your shoes are tied before getting on an escalator.
  2. Stand in the center of the step, and be sure to step off of the escalator at the end of your ride.
  3. Always hold children’s hands-on escalators, and do not permit children to sit or play on the steps.
  4. Do not bring children onto escalators in strollers, walkers, or carts.
  5. Always face forward and hold the handrail.
  6. Avoid the sides of steps where entrapment can occur.
  7. Learn where the emergency shutoff buttons are in case you need to stop the escalator.

Be Safe

To effectively clean and sanitize escalator handrails requires more than just a quick once over with a damp rag. If you own or operate escalators, you likely already know that disinfecting products like alcohol and ammonia can damage and degrade the rubber or vinyl handrail and shorten the life of a very costly replacement part.  Proper cleaning requires effective decontamination and handrail conditioning. Cleaning your escalators The Thomsen Way will not only protect your customer’s health and safety, but it will also lower your costs of owning and operating your escalators, improving your bottom line.

The Thomsen Way!

Thomsen’s, Inc. develops beautifully simple systems. The Thomsen Way cleaning system effectively helps escalator owners and operators sanitize and condition escalator handrails. Thomsen’s systems include all you need to keep your customers safe and your escalators performing in tip-top shape. Our systems include the necessary equipment, chemicals, and training to efficiently and cost-effectively clean your handrails and make your riders safe. Our conditioning system will help extend your handrails’ useful life, saving you money on costly replacements.

The Thomsen Way Sticker

The Thomsen Way is what consumers will be looking for to have a cleaner, safer, and healthier transport experience.  Consumers will look for places that employ The Thomsen Way to assure themselves they are safe. 

If you are a frequent escalator user, then you should demand clean, safe, and healthy escalators, demand The Thomsen Way!

Go to www.thomsensinc.com to find out more.

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