WFAA Points Out Elevator Safety Concerns in Texas
When working as expected, elevators have the tendency to be out of sight, out of mind. Most people use them without expecting to experience trouble. The reality is that elevators are carefully crafted and sensitive machines; their circuits, wires, and gears are meant to work in perfect sync. A machine this complex requires periodic inspections and constant, careful monitoring. Of course, it’s often not until something bad happens that you realize you’re under prepared. In property management, practicing elevator safety that goes beyond the minimum requirement of elevator inspections is time well spent.
Texas’ 40,000 elevator passengers may be neglected by the state’s safety inspectors, according to a new investigation by local Dallas TV station WFAA. Worrisome problems, such as missed inspections, neglected elevators, bad recordkeeping, and failing oversight have been noted by the report.
The state of Texas has no inspectors on its payroll, but does employ a chief inspector and and a deputy, both based in Austin. However, neither of these positions conducts or completes inspections. Texas issues licenses to roughly 150 independent contractors to inspect elevators with varying levels of training and experience.
To become a Texas elevator inspector, you must complete a three-day course and pay a $50 fee.
Ken Pixley, an elevator safety consultant with 40 years of industry experience, told WFAA, “The problem lies with the fact that if something bad happens with an elevator it gets really bad, really fast. So there’s just no room for error.”
Across the nation, elevators kill five passengers and injure 940 people every year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the state of Texas, nearly half of all elevator accidents happened in Dallas and Fort Worth. Of those, one-third occurred in hospitals. Part of the reason for this may be due to the fact that hospitals are open 24/7 and the elevators run all day and night. With patients and visitors who potentially have compromised health and could be more vulnerable to accidents as well as health emergencies while entrapped, a hospital is the last place you’d want something to go wrong in an elevator.
Although the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation enforces its annual inspection requirement, a troubling 5,617 of all elevators in the state are overdue for their annual inspection. That’s 14 percent. And some of those elevators are overdue for their inspection by years, not months.
“ There are a lot of building owners out there who are either unaware that they need to have their elevators inspected or that don’t care. And either one is a problem,” Tela Mange, the department’s spokeswoman, told WFAA.
Recently, a woman was trapped in an elevator for three days. What can we learn from this?
It’s about more than just passing inspection.
Hopefully, you’re not experiencing inspection issues where you are, but let’s not kid ourselves that Texas is alone in this issue. Texas is simply the state highlighted in this single news report. Either way, caring for the safety of your tenants goes far beyond periodic inspections. Property safety is a top priority for property managers. Elevators are one of the most high-traffic and commonly utilized areas on your site and so it reasons that elevator safety should be a key component of your safety plan. Your emergency communications may serve as a lifeline in an elevator (or other) emergency, which means you need to install reliable equipment monitored by professionals that can provide necessary aid to callers as quickly as possible.
How do you help to ensure the safety of your elevators and tenants beyond code compliance? First, make it a top priority. Remember to include Kings III Emergency Communications in your mix, which will help reduce risk, liability and cost. Plus, your elevator emergency phones will be replaced free of charge at initial installation and during any future modernization or alteration (generally $1000+ value if provided by your elevator maintenance company).
A Kings III emergency elevator phone system gives you access to a competent staff of skilled, trained professionals 24/7/365. All operators are Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatch certified (AEMD), which means your tenants will get step-by-step pre-arrival medical instructions, including instructions for life-saving measures such as CPR, in the case of an emergency. An AEMD certification meets and exceeds all national safety requirements and allows for full and professional attention in the event of an emergency. Find out more about our emergency elevator phones here.
The bottom line: elevator safety is too important to leave to pointing fingers or “he said/she said” accusations among elevator companies, inspectors, property managers, or owners.
For the safety of employees, tenants and visitors, it behooves you to be up to speed with requirements and to aim to exceed those requirements, beyond the normal constraints of inspection. This is where valuable partners – in both elevator maintenance and elevator monitoring come into play. There we can bulk up the idea that having the same partner oversee maintenance AND monitoring might not be the best course of action – find experts in both.
Having the same vendor oversee both maintenance and monitoring might not be the best course of action – each of these areas require uncompromised attention and specific knowledge and experience. Find experts in both. Take the time to find a reputable and reliable elevator maintenance company; it will be two of the most invaluable professional partnerships you have. Find an elevator phone monitoring company you can trust, like Kings III. Contact us for help testing your current elevator communication system.
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