In tough economic times, building owners and managers looking for ways to cut costs may be tempted to forego routine maintenance on public or freight elevators. It may seem that since the doors are still opening and the car is going up and down without difficulty, nothing needs to be done.
This is simply not the case – behind-the-scenes technical and mechanical components need regular examination to stave off problems. Monthly or quarterly inspections can ferret out damage done by vandalism, improper use, wear-and-tear and power supply variances, preventing minor defects from growing into major flaws.
Skipping regular checks on any highly complex mechanical component (anything from cars to elevators) may save a few dollars in the short term, but it is not without risk. The added personal injury and property damage expenses resulting from a lift system failure can be catastrophic, and these accidents can be life-altering for the victims involved.
Tragically, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission report that nearly 20,000 people are injured each year in elevator/escalator accidents; of those, 30 lose their lives.
What Are Common Causes of Elevator Accidents?
The blanket term “negligent maintenance” encompasses a wide range of actions or omissions, any one of which could result in a mechanical failure and accident. Defective mechanical or electronic parts can also be at fault. Examples of common causes include:
- Neglecting to clean door fitting or the tops of cars and equipment rooms can allow dirt to build up in the system and impede proper operation
- Failing to oil or grease cables and braking systems
- Not installing or maintaining emergency features like an alarm, stop button, smoke detector and intercom/phone
- Failing to have back-up power systems for brakes and operational systems
- Allowing wires to fray or not regularly checking connections, creating the potential for shorted wires to cause fires
- Defectively designed or manufactured gears, door mechanisms or car boxes that can fail may be unreasonably hazardous or may not fit together properly
- Not posting weight limit signs, allowing passengers to inadvertently overload it
If you or a loved one has been injured in an elevator accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.