Train Staff on How to Respond When Passenger-Filled Elevator Breaks Down
If your site has an elevator, it’s important that your staff know the proper steps to take when a passenger-filled elevator breaks down. Elevators can and do malfunction, more often than most people may like to think, sometimes resulting in injuries. An owner is subject to premises liability law, meaning the owner can be held responsible for certain injuries suffered by persons on the premises, including injuries sustained while using an elevator. If your staff doesn’t take the proper steps and passengers get injured during an elevator breakdown, you are likely to get sued.
You can minimize problems by training your staff on how to handle an elevator breakdown involving passengers. We’ll explain the importance of such training, and give you a Model Memo: Inform Staff of Elevator Breakdown Procedures, which spells out elevator breakdown procedures that you can adapt and use at your site.
Importance of Training
It’s essential that your site have procedures for handling an elevator breakdown, and that your staff be trained in those procedures so that they can respond quickly and properly to such a situation. According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, incidents involving elevators and escalators kill about 30 people and seriously injure about 17,000 people each year in the United States,
In one case, a guest at a New York apartment building injured himself while trying to pry open the doors of a broken-down elevator. He sued the owner, claiming that it was liable for his injuries because its staff didn’t respond when he and other passengers pushed the alarm button, pounded on the walls, and screamed for help. The owner asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the passenger caused his own injuries by trying to exit the elevator. An appeals court ruled that a jury must decide whether the passenger’s attempt to pry open the door of the broken-down elevator was a foreseeable result of the emergency created by the owner’s negligence [Humbach v. Goldstein].
In another incident, in 2008, a tragedy occurred at a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing complex where residents had complained of recurring problems with the elevators. A 5-year-old boy had fallen down an elevator shaft after the elevator had become lodged between floors. The boy had tried to escape through the opened elevator door by jumping to the floor below, but he lost his footing and fell to the bottom of the shaft. And in 2012, an elderly man in a NYCHA development in East Harlem suffered injuries when an elevator door closed on him. At the very least, you can minimize problems by training your staff on how to handle an elevator breakdown involving passengers.
Use Memo to Train Staff
First, develop elevator breakdown procedures, if you haven’t already done so. Then, choose staff members to be contact people for elevator breakdown situations. Because contact people will only be calling the elevator service company and keeping in contact with passengers, any staff member could be a contact person.
If your staff members work in shifts, choose a staff member from each shift to be a contact person. Train these staff members on how to handle an elevator breakdown by giving them a memo spelling out your procedures for such a situation. You should also give copies of the memo to all staff members. That way, if a designated contact person isn’t available when an elevator breaks down, other staff members can help. Your memo, like our Model Memo, should spell out the following procedures:
Call elevator service company. Say that upon finding out about an elevator breakdown, the contact person should immediately call the elevator service company to notify it of the problem. Instruct the contact person to tell the elevator service company your site’s address, the location of the broken-down elevator, the apparent nature of the problem, and, if applicable, that there are passengers stuck inside the elevator. And instruct them to ask the service company when a technician will arrive. Include the service company’s telephone number in your memo so that the contact person has easy access to it.
Also tell the contact person not to try to fix the elevator on his own. Elevators are complex machines that even your maintenance staff members probably aren’t trained to fix. If a staff member tries to fix the elevator, he could make the problem worse or violate the service contract you have with your elevator service company [Memo, par. 1].
Reassure passengers. Tell the contact person to promptly try to communicate with passengers stuck in the elevator. Usually, the contact person can communicate with passengers by using the elevator’s telephone or intercom system. If your elevators don’t have a telephone or intercom or if the telephone or intercom doesn’t work, the contact person should go to the floor nearest to where the elevator is stuck and speak loudly to the passengers.
Instruct the contact person to tell the passengers that a technician from the service company is on his way and when he’s expected to arrive. Also instruct him to assure passengers that they’re safe [Memo, par. 2].
If your elevator has a telephone, program it to call the management office or your community’s security guard. Also, consider programming the telephone to call the elevator service company or an answering service after hours. And have your maintenance staff regularly check the telephones or intercoms to make sure they work.
Warn passengers not to fix or exit elevator. Tell your contact person to warn passengers stuck in the elevator not to try to fix it themselves. And tell your contact person that if the elevator has broken down with its doors partially open, he should warn the passengers not to try to force open the doors. Also, instruct the contact person to inform passengers that they could get seriously injured if the elevator starts moving while they’re trying to get out [Memo, par. 3].
Give passengers frequent updates. Instruct the contact person to keep the passengers updated on the status of the repair. Keeping passengers in the loop will make them feel confident that the situation is under control [Memo, par. 4].
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|Inform Staff of Elevator Breakdown Procedures|