Who Is Responsible for “Out of Service” Elevators?

big-bang-theory-elevatorIt may be funny to watch the cast of the TV comedy “The Big Bang Theory” detour around a broken elevator by climbing up and down several flights of stairs for the last 10 seasons, but no one living through downed elevators is laughing.

In last month’s newsletter, we wrote about a private member’s bill proposed in Ontario, Canada that aims to tackle the major problem of unreliable, broken-down elevators. The proposed act has caused a lot of discussion and debate around the topic of who is responsible for the timely repair of buildings elevators.

While the proposed bill is making its way through the lengthy path to legislation, the Ontario government is trying to get to the bottom of what is causing the high number of elevator outages or otherwise poor service and, most importantly, to find the best solutions. In order to do so, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has ordered the provincial safety agency to commission the necessary research. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority – TSSA – is now calling for bids to do the research and report on potential solutions by mid-October. The winning bidders must find out how bad the problem is, the causes, and report on legislative and non-legislative steps municipal, provincial or federal entities should take to deal with the issue. The winning bidder will also be required to investigate what, if anything, other jurisdictions such as New York, London or Singapore have done to address the problems.

Although the proposed Bill was not meant to target independent contractors, the Canadian Elevator Contractors Association has identified numerous shortcomings of Bill 109, which essentially frees property owners from a number of responsibilities to building tenants, and places an unfair onus on elevator contractors.

For example:

  • Old elevators with obsolete components may take longer to find parts so having 14 days (and in some cases 7) to fix a problem might be unrealistic.
  • Building owners who fail to pay contractors: The proposed Bill 109 states: “The contractor responsible for maintaining an elevator that becomes unavailable for use because it needs repair shall ensure that the elevator is repaired.” The bill does not define what “contractor responsible” entails. With most elevator contracts, some or all causes of breakdowns are not included in the contract and the building owner must pay extra for these situations. Who then is responsible if the owner has not authorized or paid for the repair? As currently written, the bill does nothing to alleviate the situation; in fact, it just confuses it more.
  • Building owners who fail to budget and invest the money in upgrading their elevators soon enough results in the elevators becoming more unreliable and taking longer to repair as they age.
  • The causes of many elevator shutdowns are often outside of the control of the elevator contractors, such as flooding. In situations like this, a 2-week turnaround is just not possible since a substantial portion of each elevator must be replaced or rebuilt to satisfy TSSA’s safety requirements.

No matter what city, state or country you live in, elevator safety and maintenance is the responsibility of both contractors and building owners.

 

FIELDBOSS LIFT can help Ontario contractors cope with The Elevator Reliability Act by:

  • Staying on top of maintenance projects by auto-scheduling the dates into your companies schedule and dispatch system. When it’s time for maintenance, it will not only alert you to the job but have all the client and asset information ready to go.
  • Elevator contractors can better negotiate with building owners by offering a real time link to the maintenance service schedules and tasks agreed upon for maintenance that the device actually requires for proper operating conditions.
  • Staying accountable! Contractors can offer building owners real time notifications when maintenance is being performed and can send photographic or video evidence that tasks are complete and payment is due.
  • Documenting everything. In the event that a problem does occur, the documentation and reports that FIELDBOSS LIFT stores can act as proof that you and your staff did everything in your power to assure that the elevators were running properly.
  • Storing data, like information on how to operate equipment, user manuals, regulatory documents (such as OSHA standards), warranty and vendor information – virtually every piece of data you can think of. Having this info at hand is crucial in times of outages and mission-critical situations. Just pull up your elevator’s record and you are all set!

Collaborating with building owners on maintenance contracts that make sense for the device and for the contractor will help balance the onus of responsibility while at the same time allow contractors to get proper budgets to maintain equipment and earn an appropriate profit for the skills, risk and investment they take on.

Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how not only to protect your customers in times of crisis, but your business as well.

 

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