By Lou DeLoreto
From the August 2022 Issue
A report from the Center for Construction Research and Training estimates that elevators cause 27 fatalities and 10,000 injuries per year in the United States. To put this into perspective, stairway accidents account for around 12,000 fatalities and 1 million injuries every year, while car traffic accidents cause over 30,000 deaths and 4.5 million injuries. But even without looking at numbers and statistics, one single elevator accident is one too many, and there are many ways to ensure the safety of riders.
Building owners and facility managers should be confident that their elevator service provider has the proper licensing, provides technical and safety training to their elevator technicians, and that technicians have the skills needed for the specific equipment they’re working on. By developing a safety mindset and asking qualifying questions, you can feel confident in choosing the right qualified service provider.
These are the top eight questions to ask your elevator service company to assess their safety culture. They will help you ensure the company is equipped to do the job safely, that they fully understand the elevator equipment, and are able to meet the needs of the building.
1. How well does the company know your specific elevator type?
You want to make sure the technicians servicing your elevator equipment have received technical training specific to your equipment, with a good understanding of how to keep it running safely and efficiently.
2. Does the company know the specific safety training needed to work on the project?
Besides regulated safety training, each piece of equipment may have different requirements for training and skills, and it’s important for anyone working on site to be aware of the risks and safe handling of the mechanisms.
3. How often does the company refresh its safety training?
All service providers should have continual, ongoing training for their teams. If a technician isn’t aware of a regular cadence of training sessions, this is a sign that the company does not value safety and could be putting people at risk.
4. Does the company have the tools and resources to perform this job to its best ability and best quality?
Elevator service providers can range from small to large and everything in between. Make sure the company has access to the specific tools and resources needed to take the job on without putting anyone in danger.
5. Does the company follow a safety management program?
The service company must follow a safety management system that does not regard it as a one-and-done activity but is always assessing risk and ensuring the necessary elements are in place. Elevator safety is a never-ending journey, and service providers must be looking at constantly learning, improving, and developing their processes to minimize risk, eliminating the potential for safety incidents.
6. Do all field staff have required safety practices and access to a complete set of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
An elevator technician without proper safety equipment and safety guidelines is a major red flag when it comes to the safety culture of a service provider. If an individual team member doesn’t have a responsible and safety-driven attitude, it can indicate that safety isn’t fully embedded within the company.
7. What safety training and certifications have their teams completed?
A dependable elevator service provider will be able to tell you exactly what training and certifications their people have received, and what that means for their understanding of elevator safety. You should expect that all people working on your elevators have the knowledge and resources needed to keep themselves and your passengers safe.
8. Does the company provide continuing education, to expand both safety and technological knowledge?
As with all knowledge, we can sometimes forget details as time goes on. You want to be assured that the technicians servicing your elevators have a fresh, solid understanding of how to do the job safely and keep your equipment in perfect working order, with the support of regular training sessions and handbooks.
Training & Codes
While asking these questions is an important step in finding a safety-focused service provider, it’s important to establish that the provider has a safety mindset and culture. A company that cares about the safety of their employees will be fully invested in passenger safety.
Asking your service provider what their safety program looks like can be informative and reveal the real safety picture. If the company offers a range of programs such as regular “Toolbox Talks,” PPE distribution, and supervisor field visits, this translates into a sense of responsibility and care about the people who use the equipment.
To carry out a job safely, an elevator service provider also needs to have access to all technical information relevant to the project. They need to have a good understanding of the equipment, any elevator-specific components, manuals, and tools. This ensures the mechanic can do the job safely and efficiently, deliver quality work, and meet your expectations.
Aside from the training provided by the service company, elevator hardware and software manufacturers offer technical training programs on their specific equipment, allowing mechanics to stay up to date with the latest functionality. In addition, there are requirements from states and jurisdictions for technical credits and licensing, as well as a variety of continuing education opportunities that elevator service providers and associations can offer.
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Your elevator service provider should help you understand what is required to service the specific units in your building. You should be able to rely on them to stay up to date with industry-related developments regarding elevators and safety—starting with the current elevator code and upcoming code changes. Elevator code drives passenger safety and quality. Since codes are dynamic and can change annually, the service provider needs to have any code conversations with you in advance, to ensure safety and compliance are top of mind and expectations are clear. You should be able to find the current elevator code for your area on your local government website.
Forecasting A Maintenance Plan
Having a forecast plan for elevator maintenance can provide a variety of benefits. For instance, mapping out the current state of the equipment and developing a plan for the course of the next three years allows you to keep the equipment running smoothly, reduce callbacks, ensure runtime, and stay up to date with the latest technology.
The plan could also help set expectations in terms of any downtime of the equipment during installation or upgrade. The service company will often review the standard and history of the equipment with you. This includes looking at downtime and callbacks, obsolete parts, public safety, and any incidents. This information can be reviewed by a variety of stakeholders, which could include building engineers, property managers, and service technicians. Then, a proper plan can be developed to set up the equipment for success.
There will often be other people in the building who have access to elevator working spaces, such as housekeeping, HVAC professionals, and property employees. It is important to relay this information to the elevator service provider, so they are fully aware of anyone entering and exiting the site.
Your elevator service provider should help you understand what is required to service the specific units in your building.
A quality elevator service provider will be considering any safety improvements for elevator spaces. This could be machine guarding, pit ladders, lighting for the hoistways, or door monitoring—any improvements to infrastructure and safety that protect not only elevator mechanics but all building trades, tenants, and visitors.
It’s also important to consider the impact that technology and innovation has on operations, maintenance, and safety. Stay on top of emerging or improved technology that drives not only safety but also efficiency, such as remote monitoring, destination dispatch, and smart components. It can play a key part in analyzing the behavior of components and carrying out preventive work.
Preconceptions should never get in the way of safety or workmanship. Once a service provider has been selected, they should approach your equipment with fresh eyes and be open to find any safety related issues that might put them or the riding public at risk.
Safety should sit at the heart of any business, and a responsible service provider will communicate the safety maintenance checks, advancements, and solutions that can help your equipment run efficiently while reducing any liability. A service provider that prioritizes and communicates safety best practices regularly helps protect all stakeholders and is one that promises to be a beneficial partner.
DeLoreto is Senior Vice President of Employee Safety and Health at American Elevator Group and serves as a key coordinator of all training and implementation of safety practices.
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