Any potential injury caused by a malfunctioning or unsafe elevator renders the elevator owner liable for a lawsuit or tenant action. Did that get your attention? It’s true – you’re responsible for your elevator’s safety and function. Furthermore, a higher frequency of reported safety issues or hazards means it is more likely that governing authorities will shut the elevator down. To prevent injury, stoppages, and repeat safety issues, owners can follow these four best practices, and learn what to do when a safety issue arises.
1. Tend to Safety Issues Immediately
While it can be tempting to take a “wait and see” approach, it’s just too risky to sacrifice your elevator’s function — and the safety of its passengers. Common issues, such as problems levelling (when there is a variance in where the elevator car stops and where the building’s floor begins) may seem simple or unworthy of immediate attention. However, floors that are unlevelled are trip hazards, and make it more difficult for any passengers with mobility concerns to get on and off the elevator car. Another frequent problem is broken elevator buttons with exposed wire, which poses a shock risk. Elevator doors not reopening when someone is in front of it as it closes this is called door reopen protection, this protects the public from being struck by a door.
When these or other issues present themselves, your elevator service company should be notified immediately. Doing so ensures that the problem is resolved in a timely manner, and if injury does take place, there is proper documentation that should be taken, in the event of a lawsuit. Withholding information means you are liable. If you see an issue with your elevator, it’s best to do something about it right away.
2. Meet Regional Standards to Mitigate Risk
Owners of elevators must apply annually for elevator licenses, which are displayed in or around the elevator. If an elevator is operating without a valid license, an inspector may seal it until a license is purchased. Codes are required for new elevator installation, modification, or reinstallation. In conjunction with these codes and licenses, inspections must be carried out to ensure the elevator is safely operational.
If an accident occurs due to a need for extensive elevator repairs, the inspector may extend a written notice informing the owner that the elevator needs to be repaired or altered to meet applicable codes. Owners and building managers may not, under any circumstance, operate new or repaired elevators until they have passed inspection and are deemed safe and compliant with codes. Passenger and freight elevator regulations for each province can be found on Ministry of Labour website. A list of these sites can be found here. Provincial elevator regulations are used in conjunction with Canadian Standards Association (CSA) B44-00, Safety Code for Elevators, which can be purchased here. State elevator regulations are used in conjunction with ASME 17.1 Code, the safety code for elevators.
3. Your Elevator Service Company Can Help Minimize Liability
The more the owner or building manager knows about their elevator, the better they can understand what work is being carried out. An elevator service company should work with building owners to ensure the elevator is safe and functional, and respond quickly to any inquiries or maintenance calls. Additionally, the elevator service company acts as an expert liaison between the elevator owner and the governing authority having jurisdiction and its inspectors. An elevator service company can assist in explaining issues, modernization or installation plans, and making sure the elevator passes inspections.
4. Elevator Liability Insurance
Regardless of elevator type – from passenger and freight elevators, to residential lifts, to dumbwaiters – there are a variety of insurance offerings for owners. Many insurance providers offer coverage for new installations, repairs, maintenance and service, and inspections. Additionally, insurance options can cover worker’s compensation, general liability, and major medical, loss of life, and disability.
The easiest way to ensure safety issues do not occur with frequency is to maintain your elevator and meet regional safety regulations. Work with an elevator service provider to make sure these standards are being met, and properly document safety concerns and all repairs. Elevator safety is ultimately the responsibility of the owner, and maintaining a safe, working elevator means less likelihood of being held liable for elevator-related injuries or even deaths. More importantly, these measures may prevent these instances from occurring in the first place, which is the true desired outcome.