June 22, 2017
Whether your organization has one elevator or several facilities with dozens of vertical transportation solutions, passenger safety is of the utmost importance and it starts with facility managers. Facility managers can take several precautions to create an environment that is committed to passenger safety.
Training is crucial to success
First and foremost, elevator and escalator owners need to ensure employees are trained on how to properly use the equipment, and more importantly, how not to use the equipment. If a customer sees an employee using equipment inappropriately, they are likely to do the same. It is always best to lead by example.
Additionally, building owners should have a dedicated training plan specifically for freight elevators, if one is in their facility. Providing basic freight elevator operation training and only having trained personnel use the elevator is always recommended. Finally, dedicated employees should be trained on how to properly start an escalator at the beginning of the day and all employees should be trained on how to stop an escalator in the event of an emergency.
Preparing for seasonal challenges
Prepare for heavy traffic seasons, like Black Friday and holiday shopping, by staffing additional workers to help with increased foot traffic. Employees should provide assistance to the nearest elevator for families with small children and baby strollers, as well as older customers with canes or walkers, which will help reduce the possibility of an incident. Another important means of prevention is providing employees training on how to ask customers to ride responsibly. It is important employees address passengers in a respectful yet firm way, communicating care for their safety and the safety of other customers.
Preparing for the unexpected
Unfortunately, elevator entrapments occasionally occur, so it’s important to be prepared in case your elevator unexpectedly shuts down, especially if passengers are inside. Create a written plan for how to handle this issue, including detailed steps on who to call, how to communicate with passengers, and ways for employees and passengers to remain calm throughout the situation. When employees remain calm and ask the right questions, passengers trapped in the elevator remain calm. This enables clear communication, ultimately expediting the process of freeing the passenger. It is important to note that code dictates only a trained elevator technician or emergency personnel (i.e. firefighter) can free a trapped passenger from an elevator. Never place yourself or an employee within harm’s way and always allow a trained professional to handle the situation.
Though it’s a worst case scenario, it’s important to also have a written plan in place in the event of a customer injury on an elevator or escalator. When a detailed plan is in place, it’s easier for employees to gather information and document what occurred. After an incident occurs, it’s crucial to gain insights from the injured party and any other witnesses to help diagnose whether or not the incident was avoidable. It is important to note that each local code authority having jurisdiction over your elevator and escalator equipment has their own reporting standards that must be followed. It is recommended you contact your local code authority to find out more details for your area.
In some instances, escalator owners choose to utilize a shut-down escalator as a stairway. Tripping on steps is more common on non-moving escalators because the step levels differ significantly from that of regular stairs. It’s recommended that all escalators that are not in operation be barricaded. Depending on which code year your local jurisdiction is currently under, it may also be against local code to use your escalator as a stairway.
Monitor and maintain
Once all preparations are in place, monitoring and keeping up with regular maintenance of your equipment is recommended. This can be achieved through implementing a regular schedule for employees to review the vertical transportation equipment throughout the day.
Here are some examples of items your employees should look for throughout the day when reviewing elevators and escalators:
- Spills around the equipment, which lead to slips and can damage equipment
- Vandalism on or around the equipment that will need to be replaced
- Debris that has fallen on an escalator or into the elevator door tracks
- Any odd noises or odors coming from the equipment or equipment rooms
- Improper use of the equipment
Ultimately, these regular checks are more likely to help reduce incidents and maintain the equipment’s appearance.
Finally, request your service provider completes an audit of your elevator and escalator equipment regularly. Ask for an elevator and escalator risk assessment, which provides you with the information to make informed decisions over code changes, available safety upgrades, and help with future budgeting of your equipment.