Elevator / Escalator Accidents
Elevators and escalators are a routine part of rapidly getting us all where we need to go. They save us the trouble of having to climb or descend numerous flights of stairs or race on foot to our destination. They can take us from floor-to-floor or from point-to-point (i.e., “moving walks”).
Consumer Reports estimates in the U.S. alone, there are 900,000 elevators serving an average of 20,000 people a year. These transport machines make approximately 18 billion passenger trips annually. When it comes to escalators, there are approximately 35,000 in the U.S., serving 12,000 people and making 105 billion trips a year.
These figures don’t include the elevators and elevator hoists used in the construction industry.
At The Ansara Law Firm, we know most travelers take these devices for granted, but the fact is, they can be extremely dangerous.Types of Elevators/ Escalators
Elevators are a type of car or cage that is installed inside a building for vertical transportation of people or property.
There are two basic types of elevators:
- Manual – operated by an attendant
- Automatic – operated by passengers
Escalators, meanwhile, are electronically-powered stairs or walkways that transport passengers either from one floor (J Type) to the next or from one point to another (“moving walks”). While J Type escalators are found in all kinds of retail and office spaces, moving walks are most often found in airports or other busy terminals.
The Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health ( ELOSH ) reports elevator and escalator accidents seriously injure 17,000 and 30 deaths a year. Elevators are involved in the bulk of these incidents – 90 percent of fatalities and 60 percent of injuries.
Half of all deaths involve those working on or near the elevators. Of those, half occurred when workers fell into the shaft. Others involved:
- Workers caught in/ between moving parts of the elevator/ escalator
- Elevators or platforms that collapse
- Struck by elevators or counterweights
- Workers or others falling down open shafts
Escalators can cause serious injuries or death if they are not properly built or maintained. Some common issues:
- Missing teeth on the escalator track
- Missing or loose screws
- Too much space between the side and moving walk area
- Missing or broken steps
- General malfunction
These issues have been associated with a host of injuries, including finger entrapment, entrapment between steps or in the comb plate and slip-and-falls.
Elevators too can be the source of catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Problematic defects include:
- Malfunction of the pulley system or mechanical breakdown
- Unprotected open shaft
- Faulty doors
- Incomplete maintenance or repairs
- Inspection by personnel not qualified for the specifics of the job
- Failure of elevator to line up with the floor
- Wiring malfunction or entrapment
Unfortunately, when a design defect of an elevator or escalator is identified by the manufacturer, the only requirement the manufacturer has is to notify the equipment owners of the flaw by certified mail. That means journalists and therefore the general public rarely find out about these issues, unless there is a recall or worse, a serious injury or death.Liability for Elevator/ Escalator Safety
There are numerous parties responsible for the safety of elevators and escalators. These include:
- Property owners/ managers
- Maintenance companies
Property owners have a responsibility to ensure the sites they own or manage are in reasonably safe condition for workers and the general public. This is especially true for the public invited to the site for business purposes. If there is an issue that renders the elevator or escalator unsafe, the property owner must warn the public or block access to it completely.
Beyond that, maintenance companies have a responsibility to make sure the work they do is correct and in line with industry standards. If there is a problem with the elevator function or safety, these companies have a responsibility to ensure any repairs or done correctly.
Manufacturers are responsible for designing and creating these machines in such a way that they will function safely and effectively. Customers and users must be clearly and adequately warned of any potential safety concerns.
Employers owe a duty to workers to make sure they are provided a reasonably safe work environment. Although employers are immune from litigation for work-related injuries suffered by employees, they are responsible to promptly and in good faith provide workers’ compensation benefits.
If you have been injured in an elevator accident or escalator accident, contact us today.
Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (888) 267-2728 or locally at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.