Elevator injuries on the rise! The headline is a bit frightening but absolutely true, and something that we have been very aware of at Phoenix Modular Elevator for some time. We have written dozens of blogs concerning the inherent dangers of elevator construction and use and how to avoid them in the elevator and construction industry. We also routinely post helpful tips to building owners about safe operation. However, in an industry that is slow to change, it is hard to be heard, even if you have solutions and truth on your side. Before we delve into the study, you need to be reassured that elevators overall are exceedingly safe. It has been said that elevators move more people safely every year, further than any other mode of conveyance, so don’t panic.
With that said, a recent study by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) found the following:
→ There is an upward trend in elevator-related fatalities in construction, as the number of deaths and rate has doubled from 2003 to 2016.
→ Between 2011 and 2016, 145 construction workers died due to elevator-related injuries, accounting for more than half of such fatalities in all industries.
→ The majority (53.5%) of elevator-related fatalities in construction were caused by falls to a lower level, nearly half (47.9%) or which were falls from 30 feet or more.
→ About 46% of construction workers with elevator-related nonfatal injures require 31 days or more off of work to recover.
→ Elevator or escalator-related injuries treated at hospitals among members of the public jumped by more than 30% from 2007 to 2017.
Only the coldest of hearts could not see the tragedy in these statistics. People in the elevator industry, construction industry and riding public need to be aware that an elevator is not a toy but a means of conveyance. It is a very powerful apparatus that can move thousands of pounds at the touch of a button and is usually the largest moving object in any building. When combined with the fact that heights are part of the equation for elevators, if not careful, you can have increased risk.
During construction and installation, old-fashioned elevator techniques maybe part of the problem. Many of the falls from height could be avoided if modular elevators were utilized in the construction phase. Modular elevators are put in place with the elevator doors closed until the elevator is fully operational. Every time a construction worker or elevator installer falls accidentally into an elevator hoistway during the construction process due to an open door, it is a senseless death. More modern and safer means are now available. Likewise, with modular elevators, there is no scaffolding around or inside a hoistway during construction to fall off of because the shaft is pre-fabricated so you never need scaffolding, as there is nothing to build; only a pit to pour.
As far as the riding public and building owners are concerned, remember and reinforce simple steps to insure safe riding:
→ Be aware of your surroundings. Notice anything that could cause a trip and fall.
→ Being courteous is safety. Allow passengers to exit before entering. Stand clear of the doors.
→ If the elevator is full, simply wait for the next car. It is not a competition to pack people in like sardines. Every elevator has a capacity limit.
→ No horseplay. Jumping up and down or playing with the buttons can only mean trouble.
→ Don’t try to beat the door. If they are closing, please wait. Use the door open button instead.
→ In emergencies, take the stairs.
→ Watch your step; sometimes elevator cars are not perfectly level with the floor.
→ Hold and control any children in the elevator car.
→ Hold pets or keep them close. Nothing is more heartbreaking than to have the elevator doors close with you on one side and your pet on the other, especially if leashed. You gotta see this video!
→ Use the handrails. Rides are not always perfectly smooth.
→ Do not push your way out! You could knock people down. Be polite.
→ Never climb out of an elevator that has stopped between floors. EVER! Although rare, this is the most common way passengers suffer significant injury.
→ Use the alarm button, phone or intercom if stuck.
→ Wait to be told what to do by a technician.
→ Don’t try to exit through the ceiling; those are locked from the outside.
With some common sense, courtesy and upgraded technology in the building process, we should see these disturbing trends reversed.
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