Editorial: Strengthening mall railings

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Friday, May 2, 2014


THE accident involving a six-year-old boy inside SM City Cebu didn’t seem to catch the attention of government officials. It was tackled in radio commentaries and by netizens in social networking sites, but the debate focused on parental responsibility or guidance.

Overlooked was the matter of safety, something that should be a concern for government officials.

Reports say the boy slammed into the mall’s upper ground level railing. Instead of stalling his momentum, the glass in the railing broke sending him down to the lower ground level. He survived the fall. But it could have been worse if the accident happened in the higher floors.

The design of malls always includes walkways with railings that provide a view of the lowest floor level. The railings have both aesthetic and safety functions. This is why many malls prefer glass railings over the purely metal ones. The common material used for this is tempered glass.

We do not know, though, if tempered glass is among the material used by SM City for its railings, but a website promoting the virtues of glass railings has this to say about tempered glass: “One of the best things about tempered glass is that even if it gets broken it will remain on its place in one place with just a crack.”

What we are saying is that government officials should use the accident as chance to look into the safety of glass railings used in malls, especially because malls are usually crowded.

If the railing material breaks when a child slams into them, how much more if adults do it? We are not talking here of normal circumstances but when an emergency situation, like a stampede, occurs, when a crowd exerts pressure on the railings.

We understand that not only is SM City paying for the hospital bills of the boy but is finding ways to prevent a repeat of the accident. This should include the strengthening of its railings. But the focus here should not only be SM City but also the other malls in Cebu.

The Cebu City Council and the Provincial Board can look into the matter and come up with the necessary safety standards that should guide the designs of malls. The lessons from that accident must be considered.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 03, 2014.

Opinion

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