Ever since the first hydraulic passenger elevator was installed in New York City in 1870, the city has relied upon elevators to support its upward growth. Given that few would care to contemplate living or working in a 20-story walk-up, transporting people upward and back down again quickly and safely was a crucial component to the Big Apple’s development into a world-class city.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) however, escalator and elevator accidents claim about 30 lives and injure about 17,000 people annually in the United States.
Workers that maintain or clean the elevators account for almost half of the fatalities caused by elevators. The remaining half are casualties due to fall accidents in elevator shafts. There are also numerous cases of people being caught between moving parts of the elevator, collapsing platforms, stuck between doors, hit by counterweights, etc. Tragically, most of these incidents could be prevented through careful attention to safety and maintenance requirements.
Today, there are almost 60,000 elevators operating in the five boroughs. Of these, several are at work in co-op and condo buildings, some making hundreds of trips per day. Co-op boards and building owners—not elevator maintenance organizations—are ultimately responsible for the safety of a building’s elevators. Keeping these elevators safe and functional is one of building administrators’ most important duties, so it’s equally important that they stay on top of maintenance and inspection schedules, as well as promoting basic elevator safety among their residents.
So, is it possible for the average elevator-rider in a mid- or high-rise co-op or condo building to know at a glance if the lift they’re about to enter is safe? They can just take a look at the inspection certificate posted inside the cab, right?