Elevator Radio News: Las Vegas Elevator Safety Editorial – Week 05/23/2012

In lieu of today's show I've put together this editorial regarding one news report that I found online.  I wanted to talk about this one because it's time to address some key points that the reporter, Nathan Baca didn't cover in the months of investigation by the I-Team. I figured that the following video would suffice for the learning lesson for the day so no video/audio show today. Watch the video linked here regarding Channel 8 CBS news in Las Vegas investigating Elevator Safety. Please note that the following commentary is just that. My own opinion on the information provided in the video. I do not have any details other than what’s been covered in the video and the following commentary is my own and may not be entirely correct based on the actual facts that may not have been shared in the video. Now that the disclaimer has been stated here I go.

Story Recap: A state elevator inspector is being blamed for not finding a jumped out safety device that may or may not have lead to a fatality in which a mechanic fell down the hoistway shortly after it had passed inspection. Concerned elevator technicians question the qualifications of state elevator and escalator inspectors which they note put elevator technicians and the general riding public in harm’s way because of their lack of training for inspecting equipment which I’ll get to in a little bit.

Here’s my problem with this and someone feel free to correct me if I’m way of base are commenting too harsh on the topic. Who is responsible for the repair/maintenance of the elevator/escalator? Who is responsible for updating the Maintenance Control Program with the work and tests that have been performed? Who’s responsible for making sure the elevator/escalator is safe during regular periodic maintenance visits? Who see’s the equipment on a regular basis? And the last and final question I’ll ask is who was responsible for putting the jumper on the controller? So someone tell me how the state elevator inspector is ultimately responsible the death of this elevator mechanic? I understand why elevators and inspectors need this kind of oversight as the report clearly notes, however placing that much responsibility on one person who, if luck sees the conveyance device once a year is concerning on its own.

The story continues to go into detail that elevator technicians are truly concerned about wiring safety issues and that inspectors are not catching them. This is one of those moments where I just had to yell out loud with a sound of dismay. I ask again the following question, if you are an elevator technician and are concerned about the safety of an elevator or escalator that you’re working on, fix the problem and make the equipment safer, or better yet, tag and lock it out and document this in the MCP. Do not rely on anyone other than yourself to make sure the equipment you maintain and work on is being checked and is safe. Do that yourself! Document what you’re doing in the MCP for the next mechanic and make everyone safer who work, inspect and ride on elevators. This I-Team Investigation does nothing more than shed light on an ongoing industry issue that is much larger than most realize. It is not isolated by state and appears that money and profit are the true motivators for where we are at today.

Regarding the statements made in the video concerning the qualifications of elevator inspectors in Nevada. I am not sure what the current qualifications are for the inspectors but am under the impression that they do hold their QEI card. I don’t know how someone who has no training can inspect elevator or escalators. EVERY elevator inspector, whether private or employed by a state agency should be QEI certified. And this certification is not easy to obtain.

So to recap, I’ve not watched an I-Team Investigation like this before. Not one that elevator technicians look to blame state inspectors for not catching mistakes and issues that were ultimately created by those working on the equipment. It’s somewhat shocking and I felt the need to share my opinion which most likely will not be a popular one. This is one of the many reasons why Maintenance Control Programs are so important not only to those who work on elevators but to those who inspect them.

I encourage anyone in our industry who does not feel as if they are up to par on elevator code or vertical transportation safety training to make education your priority. Below you’ll find some excellent sources for continuing education.

Certified Conveyance Training Corp NAESA International NAEC NEII® IUEC/EIWPF Elevator World Jobsite Safety

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we all have a responsibility to make vertical transportation equipment safer every day. Not doing so should be considered a crime and we cannot rely on other’s to do it for us. See an issue or something wrong, correct it or tag/lock it out. Don’t point blame, don’t ignore, just fix it. We truly need to band together on all fronts and instead of fighting and looking the other way, fix it right and safe so that terrible accidents like the one in the report never happen again. For our field guys and gals, fight for reduced maintenance routes, fight for getting more mechanics in the field to cover these routes. Make safety a priority each day and continue to learn. There’s so much information on equipment, safety and the elevator code that you should never stop trying to learn.

The time has never been more urgent to change the way we maintain and work on equipment than now. Make that change today. Please feel free to leave your comments in the section below or send your e-mails to elevatorradioshow@gmail.com