Category Archives: Helpful Tips

Safety: A Primary Concern of Modular

This traction elevator is one we toured at Elevator University.
Safety equipment is a must.

If you work in construction at all, you’re probably familiar with the the term “workplace falls”. Two past headlines concerning workplace falls involving elevator shafts include: “Worker Critical After Fall Down Elevator Shaft” and “Man Recuperates After Surviving Fall Down Elevator Shaft.” In the first example, the scaffolding the man was working on collapsed. He fell down the shaft and suffered two broken legs and a broken pelvis. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The second man didn’t fare as well. He was finishing concrete near an elevator opening when he lost his balance and fell 45 feet, breaking two vertebrae and ribs. Fortunately, he still has feeling in his legs and plans to walk again in the future. A third recent accident is under investigation, but it seems that it was an accidental fall down a hoistway as well, this time resulting in death.

Click for ways to be safe!

Advertisements

Elevator U Report: Maintenance – It’s Just Business

Recently, I sat in on a great discussion at Elevator U regarding elevator maintenance. Elevator U is an organization that has an annual gathering of elevator pe

Elevator U Final

rsonnel from colleges and universities around the country. The conference is a great opportunity to meet and greet some great folks in the elevator business and to learn a lot of valuable information through taking part in the various seminars and breakout sessions about the industry. One of the speakers this year was Dr. Clemense Ehoff, an accounting professor at Central Washington University. He is a published writer on information specific to the elevator industry, especially elevator maintenance.

During his presentation, Ehoff made a couple of important points about the vertical transportation industry that ought to be paid special attention by those that own buildings with elevators…Click for the whole report.

Elevator U: The Myth of Maintenance Teamwork

pierre-etienne-vachon-116891 (1)
Photo by Pierre-Etienne Vachon on Unsplash

Long-term planning for elevator maintenance takes cooperation from several parties and often is equated to teamwork. However, the idea that a team is always the solution to the problem often misses the bigger point. At the recent Elevator U conference we learned a lot about the various people that make elevator maintenance systems work but, surprisingly, the word team was never mentioned.

This is may be because when you hear the word “team,” you think of a group of individuals all dressed in the same uniform striving for victory, all pulling in the same direction. Even though everyone’s in-game goals may be different, victory for the team is always the objective, so they cast self-wants aside for the win.

Baseball is a great example of this.  See how elevators equates to baseball by clicking here.

This is an example of an elevaotr machine room that need signifcant cleaning it is against code and dangerous.

It’s a Machine Room, Not a Broom Closet

colley-elevator-photo-machine-room2There is an old joke that the long in the tooth elevator folks repeat to the new guys. If they happen to make the mistake by saying an elevator has just one stop, the rookie will inevitably hear, “It’s an elevator, not a broom closet.” The veteran will be quick to point out that every elevator has at least two stops or it simply will be a broom closet with expensive doors. Unfortunately, they don’t have a similar joke about the machine room with the punchline being “It’s a machine room – not a broom closet.” Ba dum tshh.

Machine rooms don’t start out being a catch-all, but the open space is a tempting sight for everyone in a crowded building. The result is that some building owners or managers see lots of real estate in a machine room that is going unused, and they lick their chops with envy and desire to fill that void with all kinds of stuff. Just as often, it is well-meaning employees seeking a place to dump items they want to get out of their way. Lastly, the machine room can become a hiding place and lounge for refuge-seeking smokers on winter days and those looking for a quiet place to take a coffee break.

As a result, machine rooms often become a repository for cleaning materials, flammable liquids, brooms, buckets, mops, ladders, boxes piled to the ceiling, files and filing cabinets, banker boxes, rags, light bulbs, chairs, Christmas ornaments, newspapers, cigarette butts, books, magazines and old candy wrappers. You get the point.

clean-machine-roomBut the machine room is not a break room, storage area or broom closet, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) code for elevators makes it clear that the space needs to be left open and safe.

ASME is the American National Standard for elevators, or the Bible as far as elevator requirements are concerned. The current national standard states there must be a minimum of 18 inches to access the tank, or power unit, and 36″ clear in front of electrical components.  Furthermore, nothing is allowed in the machine room that is not elevator-related.

Simply put, buckets and mops don’t help the elevator run smoothly any more than flammable materials like paint and industrial strength cleaning fluids affect the elevator speed. So they aren’t allowed in the machine room.

The machine room door must also be self-closing and self-locking. This ensures that only properly trained elevator mechanics will enter it, and it won’t be a break room for employees hiding from the boss or the boss hiding from the employees.

Why so picky? For good reason. Untrained people could inadvertently damage equipment, or come into contact with high voltage.  Flammable materials could combust and start a fire, damaging the equipment. So the machine room needs to be emptied of all the extraneous items that might have found their way into the room, and non-elevator people need to stay out.

Lastly, each state may have additional requirements, which may exceed the national code. Massachusetts, for instance, requires 24 inches on two sides of the power unit in the machine room. Michigan requires that the machine room door be within 10 feet of the hoistway.  But none of them permit storing furniture and janitorial supplies.

You may be losing a broom closet, but you will be gaining peace of mind knowing that your machine room and all of its components are safe and sound!

(photo credit to Colley Elevator – Chicago, Illinois)

 

Elevator Evacuation: What You Should Know

sfmlogomainpageLife is full of choices, from the clothes we wear to the cars we drive. Americans love having the freedom to do as they choose. But in some things, for good reason, we have no choice but to follow rules and laws that ensure public safety. This is especially true when it comes to regulations for elevators and other modes of vertical transportation. One of the most important regulations is the elevator evacuation plan, and every elevator owner is required to have one.

For the safety of all who use them, elevators are highly regulated. In Illinois, the Elevator Safety Division is responsible for implementing the Elevator Safety and Regulation Act through the registration, inspection, and certification of all conveyances in use. They also make sure those working on elevators are qualified by licensing contractors, mechanics, inspectors, inspection companies and apprentices.

Their jurisdiction extends to all of Illinois except the city of Chicago, and they work to ensure conveyances are correctly and safely installed and operated throughout the state. They regulate the design, installation, construction, operation, inspection, testing, maintenance, alteration and repair of not just elevators but also dumbwaiters, escalators, moving sidewalks, platform lifts, stairway lifts and automated people movers in accordance with all applicable statutes and rules.

Just one part of their regulation includes the elevator evacuation plan. It is one of the more crucial parts of the law that building owners must understand and implement if elevators are used. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) literally wrote the book on the evacuation plan, and it was codified by the state of Illinois, making it the law of the land that the Elevator Safety Division of the Illinois State Fire Marshal oversees and enforces.

In ASME Code A17.1-2007 – Section 8.6.11.4 Emergency Evacuation Procedures for Elevators, Section 8.6.11.4.2 – “A written emergency evacuation procedure shall be made and kept on the premises where an elevator is located.  It is the responsibility of the elevator or conveyance owner to develop such procedures. Note that there is no single procedure that applies to every site and every elevator; there are variables to consider when developing your evacuation plan.”

It is the responsibility of the building owner to produce an evacuation plan to meet the needs of each specific building and elevator.  To help with formulating a plan, the Office of the Illinois Fire Marshal provides the following information on their website:

In preparing your evacuation procedures, please consider the following:

  • Is the site located in a heavily populated or remote area?
  • Are personnel available to open the building after regular business hours?
  • If the building employs a security company or answering service, how might they be useful?

Written Procedures:

  • A written emergency evacuation procedure shall be made and kept on the premises where a conveyance is located.
  • The procedure shall identify hazards and detail the safety precautions utilized in evacuating passengers from a stalled elevator.
  • These procedures should be available to authorized elevator and emergency personnel.
  • You should have the contractor’s number readily available to building personnel.
  • The procedure should include the actions to be taken if a situation is life-threatening.
  • Situations requiring the use of the local fire department should be included in the procedure (medical emergency).

Training and Education:

  • In a catastrophic situation, in order to insure that a rescue by other than experienced elevator personnel is performed safely, the conveyance owner must select and train their employees in the proper evacuation procedures.
  • Building personnel should be given training in the proper procedures for evacuating passengers in an emergency/disaster. When training personnel, advantage should be taken of the experience and expertise which may be provided by the State licensed contractor servicing the conveyance.

Communication:

  • Prior to conducting an evacuation, the following steps should be taken:
  • The rescue team should verify that these steps have been taken, and while the rescue operation is in progress, the occupants of the conveyance should continually be kept informed and reassured of their safety.

Lack of an evacuation plan is a violation of the law that is designed to make sure that everyone using an elevator is safe. To read more about elevator evacuation plans, go to this link. The Illinois State Fire Marshal Office – Elevator safety Division website offers a tremendous amount of helpful information that can be accessed any time.