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Crocs, Inc. Pushes Escalator Safety Following Numerous Reports of Injury

Jul 23, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
Today, Crocs, Inc.—a rapidly growing designer, manufacturer, and retailer of footwear for men, women, and children--announced plans to launch an escalator safety awareness initiative to occur over the next year.  Initially, consumer education messages regarding escalator safety will be provided via hang tags on Crocs™ shoes sold worldwide and also to supporting organizations that further the cause of safe escalator maintenance and use.  The hang tags are scheduled to begin appearing on Crocs™ shoes sold through Crocs™ retailers and company-owned outlets, such at its online store within the next few months, with full implementation with its spring 2009 roll-out.

Industry experts believe many escalator entrapments are preventable by implementing safety requirements in escalator design and maintenance.  Among others, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) documented testing that indicates shoe and foot entrapments can be prevented by proper routine escalator maintenance, including periodic lubrication of escalator side panels with silicone or other lubricants.  Also, industry experts such as Joseph Stabler, a St. Louis-based escalator inspector and consultant, believe entrapments would be greatly reduced existing safety technology was implemented and utilized.  "A number of escalator entrapments occur at the side of the step," Stabler said.  "These can be dramatically reduced by requiring the installation of step safety sideplates. Some escalators already utilize step safety sideplate technology so it's something that simply would need to be implemented as a matter of course."

In recent months, rubber clogs, such as Crocs™ and including imitators, have come under increased scrutiny due to escalator accidents involving children.  A child in Singapore lost her big toe wearing rubber clogs that resembled Crocs™, but were an imitation brand.  Also, safety groups in the U.S. and Japan have issued warnings about soft-sided flexible clogs posing safety hazards to escalator riders.  Typically, the shoe becomes entrapped when the rider is stepping on or off the escalator or standing too close to the side.  The CPSC reports 77 escalator entrapment incidents have been reported since January 2006; half resulted in injury and all but two involved soft-sided flexible clogs and slides. The CPSC does not reference the Crocs™ brand, but acknowledges that Crocs™ fall into the category of soft shoes in its warnings.

The New York Daily News reported that a three-year-old girl was "severely and permanently" injured in November when her Crocs™-clad foot was caught in an JFK airport escalator, injuring her big toe. The Washington Post reported that a four-year-old boy wearing Crocs™ suffered an injured toe when his foot got caught on an escalator in a mall in Virginia last September. And after noticing an increase in soft shoes becoming caught in the hard teeth of its escalators, the Washington Metro posted warnings about wearing soft-soled shoes on its moving stairways.  Also, in Japan, where 3.9 million pairs of Crocs™ were sold last year, the Trade Ministry asked the maker of Crocs™ to change the design of its shoes after receiving 65 complaints of Crocs™ and Crocs™ knock-offs becoming stuck in escalators between June and November of 2007.

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