diamond geezer

 Friday, February 07, 2020

They're forever urging us to hold the handrail.

But is that for our benefit, or for theirs?

After all, you have absolutely no idea who touched the handrail before you, and what they might have left behind.



You do not want to trip or fall on London's public transport network. It can hurt, you can break bones, and in a worst case scenario it can kill.

TfL publish data on passenger injuries on a quarterly basis.

During the last three months of 2019...
• a customer sadly died following a fall on the stairs to the Northern line platforms at Waterloo Underground station
• a customer fell on the stairs at Maryland Station and sustained a fractured ankle
• an intoxicated customer fell between a train and platform at Romford resulting in a head injury and loss of consciousness
• a customer slipped on a very wet metal grid at the bottom of the steps going up to the platform at East India station and suffered a fractured wrist
• a customer reported that a child had fallen on an escalator at Woolwich Arsenal station resulting in a broken wrist


They confirm that slips, trips and falls continue to be the biggest cause of all customer injuries on the tube, with 829 reported during that three month period. Of these, 25% resulted in the customer visiting hospital.

But these numbers are tiny compared to the number of journeys taken.

Statistics for the last three months of 2019 show that ...
» on the tube there were 3.2 injuries per million journeys
» on the buses there were 2.1 injuries per million journeys
» on the DLR/Overground/TfL Rail there were 1.4 injuries per million journeys


To put that into context, if you rode the tube ten times a day for 80 years, you'd expect to end up with one injury.

Also, some types of passenger are more at risk than others.

The common themes in customer accidental injuries on the Underground continue to be:
- Intoxication
- Behaviour including rushing and horseplay
- Carrying heavy or large objects e.g. luggage, shopping bags
- Incidents involving older customers


If you're young, well-behaved and unencumbered, it's even less likely to happen to you.

TfL do take this into account when advising the public. Their latest poster campaign, which you may have seen, is all about taking extra care when under the influence of alcohol.

But it remains that case that most of the time when you hear a "hold the handrail" message, no accident was going to happen anyway.



Meanwhile it's flu season again, and the world is very much focused on minimising the transmission of colds, coughs and other viral diseases. Holding the handrail is hardly going to help.

The last person to have been holding the handrail before you might have coughed into their hand before stepping out, or picked up something off another surface elsewhere, or simply not have been particularly hygienic.

You could therefore argue that holding a handrail adds unnecessary risk as well as taking it away.

You may also be interested to know that TfL have released information on how often handrails and grabpoles are cleaned.

The DLR wins, with all handrails at all stations wiped twice daily, once before the morning peak and again between 13:00 and the beginning of the evening peak.

On the tube, "hand rails are regularly cleaned as part of station cleaning rotas outside of operating hours using cleaning chemicals with a sanitiser component." Train poles are spot cleaned nightly, and are included in the periodic heavy clean which takes place every 17-23 days. It's every 17 days on the Jubilee line and every 23 days on the Northern line, in case that affects your journey choices.

Buses aren't quite so rigidly regulated. Vehicles are swept clean at the end of each day or driver’s shift, at which point "the general cleanliness of the bus, including its handrails, is assessed and any concerns are addressed."

Of course contaminated surfaces aren't the only way diseases are potentially spread. Respiratory droplets are a far more likely means of transmission, so the minutes you spend squashed inside a metal container with dozens of potential sneezers are considerably riskier.

TfL reckon the "hand rail" risk is no greater than in other public environments where large numbers of people mingle such as shopping centres and airports, and thus that following normal recommendations on disease transmission is safety enough. Coughing into a handkerchief, washing hands before eating, covering wounds on the hand, that kind of thing.

If contaminated handrails really were a significant contributory factor to spreading disease, most Londoners would be ill for most of the time. Instead the human immune system is generally a resilient thing, and a few icky fingerprints on a pole or rail are very unlikely to compromise our health.



So you probably don't need to hold the handrail, but it might be wise if you did.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream