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Elevator and Escalator Consulting Engineers

Escalator Safety - Skirt / Step Clearance

Information Bulletin – Owner Update

Annual Skirt Step Performance Index (SSPI) Testing


The adoption of the latest elevator code (ANSI A17.1/CSA B44) standard by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) in Ontario requires all escalators to have the SSPI measurement performed each year.

The SSPI measurement is a calculated value that combines physical measurement of the coefficient of friction (how ‘slippery’ the surface is) with the skirt-step clearances (the gap between the escalator step and the vertical skirt).

The gaps between the escalator steps and the skirt panels must be maintained to less than fixed distances (this is the location of most entanglement hazards).

Older escalators or damaged escalators may not currently meet the test requirements.  The range of options for fixing an escalator that does not meet the requirements range from simple adjustment or skirt brush installation all the way to major component replacement depending on the age and condition of the escalator in question.  In older escalators or badly worn escalators it may be necessary to replace more significant components (ie. step chains) at the same time as the skirt panels.  This will involve significant time and expense and should be reviewed and understood as soon as practical.

In Ontario, all escalators regardless of their age must meet the SSPI test requirements as of May 2015 so action now is warranted.  Important note: the use of low-friction coatings sprayed onto escalator skirts on monthly basis will not be allowed after May 2015.


  1. Have an SSPI test performed now. 
  2. If you currently use a low-friction coating continue to have it applied monthly by authorized personnel and document this application in accordance with the code.  Ensure the SSPI test is conducted without the low friction coating to understand the true performance and then re-apply the coating prior to placing the escalator back in service.
  3. Review the results of the tests and your options with your consultant and contractor if your escalators are not currently in compliance.

Useful Links :

January 2014 TSSA Update  http://www.tssa.org/corplibrary/ArticleFile.asp?Instance=136&ID=B7E90D0D843F11E3A788000C2922855A

Code Adoption Document  http://www.tssa.org/CorpLibrary/ArticleFile.asp?Instance=136&ID=94927BF61F0111E3A788000C2922855A