The Dangerous Business – Elevators

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Women console each other after learning about the deaths. Photo credit: clee@post-dispatch.com

News of two fatalities of construction workers in an elevator shaft in St. Louis highlights the dangers of working in and around elevators. Two workers, not elevator mechanics, were cutting pipes in a hoistway while being suspended by a construction basket. The basket fell and the two men perished, falling to their deaths. The old building, at 1501 Washington Avenue in St. Louis was being renovated to be used as a hotel.

Often in this blog, we can come down pretty hard on the elevator industry. We are part of the elevator business and see its many shortcomings and flaws. But all failings aside, the elevator business is a rough one to be in and dangerous for everyone but especially rookies and novices. The general impression of danger is confirmed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor.  They point out that elevator mechanics are put at risk of falls, falls from ladders, burns, and severe muscle strains associated with working in restricted spaces with heavy tools and materials. Because of the dangers not everyone is allowed or qualified to be in an elevator shaft and significant training must take place so people in the industry will respect the danger and know exactly what to do and how to do it.

People outside the elevator business should take heed and understand the training and knowledge keeps these professionals safer, even though it is very dangerous work. Remember that elevator installers and repairers are listed as the sixth most dangerous profession in the construction field, and elevator installers and repairers suffered the highest numbers of deaths in work on or near elevators, far above laborers, supervisors, iron-workers, and other professions.

So, let’s give the guys that keep you moving vertically a break. Remember that working in and around elevators is for professionals. Do not enter any hoistway or machine room unless you are trained to do so. Elevator technicians are highly skilled specialists and are owed respect for their training and hard work in less than ideal conditions.

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