Elevator emergency. These are two words no building owner, elevator contractor, elevator maintenance professional, or passenger ever wants to hear. Fortunately, serious incidents are exceedingly rare, and, thanks to rigorous standards, elevators remain one of the safest forms of transportation. But what happens if a routine elevator inspection uncovers deficiencies?
Safety Protocols Put Passengers First
To ensure public safety, every elevator must be licensed and undergo periodic inspections. It is important for building owners and personnel, as well as elevator contractors and mechanics, to realize that standards vary by locality. They need to stay current with the requirements of their governing body.
That being said, many jurisdictions have adopted ASME A17.7/CSA B44.7 standards. This is a “fully harmonized binational code,” that guides safety and performance of elevators in Canada and the United States.
Inspectors look at the machine room, hoist way and pit, emergency power and fire service, and the elevator cab itself. Just a few of the items on their checklist:
- Fire panels are properly labeled and ready for testing.
- Cabs have a connected, operational phone that provides 24/7 emergency service.
- Emergency power is connected.
- The construction of the pit deters water accumulation.
- All entrances to the elevator are well-lit and free of tripping hazards.
Problems During Inspections
If an inspection uncovers deficiencies, authorities categorize them according to severity and assign a timeline for repair. Let’s say that an inspector discovers that the emergency brake malfunctions under testing conditions. That directly affects safe operation. The elevator can be removed from service immediately until that problem is corrected – and the elevator is reauthorized to operate.
Other issues, including cosmetic deficiencies or other minor infractions, are less severe; in these cases, owners may be given 30 – 90 days to address these concerns. In the meantime, passengers remain completely safe.
If an elevator violates some aspect of the safety authority’s requirements, owners receive a post-inspection report. This written communication details exactly what the problem(s) is and what steps need to be taken to get back in compliance. The elevator maintenance contractor receives a copy, and one is entered into the elevator safety body’s database.
While the onus for safety is ultimately on the owner, contractors play a critical role. After the given remediation period, contractors are expected to notify their elevator authority that the issue has been corrected. If they fail to do so, an inspector is sent to the property again. It creates an administrative hassle for the elevator authority, and slows the process down for the owner.
If owners and contractors do not remedy the deficiencies, inspectors can assess a fine and potentially shut down elevators. Regardless of fines and penalties, though, it is in owners’ best interest to correct problems as quickly as possible; elevator downtime can cause delays, incur tenant dissatisfaction, and negatively impact the bottom line.
Self-Reporting Elevator Incidents
If passengers have complaints (i.e. incidents that do not involve injury or damage), they should contact the building owner/management. Examples include excessive noise or an expired license.
By that same token, if an incident results in personal injury or damage to property, owners are required to report it to the licensing authority. The safety authority may deem an investigation necessary and assign an inspector to examine the elevator. If infractions are found, owners are given a timeframe for addressing the issues to ensure they remain in compliance.
Safety is a team effort; owners, contractors, and authorities need to work collaboratively to ensure elevators remain fully functional and safe for passengers and property. If infractions do happen, proper reporting and remediation must occur to safely re-establish and re-authorize the elevator into existence.