More than 400,000 elevator inspections conducted between 2017 and 2019 shows 2,127 instances where elevators were given “satisfactory” or “no violation” ratings by private inspectors — only to attract violations issued by the NYC Department of Buildings in the next 90 days. We know elevator contractors are working hard to keep the elevators in New York City safe, so why is this happening?
Every passenger elevator in New York City undergoes a pair of annual inspections but in thousands of cases, elevators are passing those inspections only to be tagged with city-issued violations in the days and months immediately thereafter. This raises the question, is there something wrong with the system?
Of the 35 million elevator trips that New Yorkers take everyday, most don’t go wrong. But when they do, it can be horrifying. Samuel Waisbren, a 30-year-old resident at the Manhattan Promenade , was crushed to death when the elevator he was exiting malfunctioned. He was crushed against the lift shaft between the lobby and the basement floors and was pronounced dead at the scene. The deadly accident unfolded just three weeks after the elevator passed an inspection conducted by a company called LCD Elevator. The scheduled test conducted by elevator technicians involved an “exhaustive review of all the elevator’s safety systems, including the brakes,” according to the city’s Department of Buildings. The inspectors found no violations or deficiencies and approved the elevator for service.
Another incident that occurred in 2015 was equally as horrifying. Eran Modan was stepping into an elevator when the brake gave way, causing the elevator to fall with the doors still open. In a panic, he turned to jump back up to the quickly disappearing lobby floor, but the car continued its descent and its ceiling landed on him, crushing his head and torso. Residents of the luxury rental building had been wary of the elevator and its unexpected jerks. Despite complaints filed with the city’s Department of Buildings in 2012, the agency’s experts found nothing wrong in follow-up inspections of the unit. P&W Elevators, the company that did maintenance on the lift regularly and conducted annual safety tests, flagged no issues with the agency. Six months after Modan died, an investigator found that the elevator’s brake wasn’t functioning properly.
A SNAPSHOT IN TIME
Some say it’s unfair to hold an inspector accountable for predicting all the problems an elevator might experience in the months after an annual inspection. The idea of an inspection that’s a snapshot in time and that tells you what the condition was on that particular day. Timothy Hogan, the Department of Buildings Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement, said the city’s elevator safety record is “fantastic.” Hogan says, “We have 70,000 plus elevators in this city. They do over a billion trips a year and in the last 3 years we’ve had one fatality, an unfortunate incident. But if you look at the overall number incidents and accidents that we have with our elevators, it’s probably the safest mode of transportation that you have anywhere.”
How can inspectors and elevator contractors make sure these incidents don’t keep happen? It’s hard to find a solution to a problem with an unidentified cause. At this point, we will have to wait for future developments in the elevator world to ensure the safety of all elevator mechanics and passengers going forward.
FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the elevator world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.
According to a new report from the Center for Construction Research and Training, elevator-related fatalities in the construction industry are on the rise. A total of 145 construction workers were killed in elevator-related incidents from 2011 through 2016 – more than twice the combined total for all other industries.
Here are some stats from the report:
The construction industry experiences more elevator-related fatal and nonfatal injuries than any other major industry sector. From 2011 to 2016, elevator-related incidents caused 145 deaths and 2,410 severe injuries among construction workers.
Although nonfatal injuries involving elevators declined over time, both the number and rate of such fatal injuries increased in recent years.
More than one-third of elevator-related fatalities occurred while the victim was performing assembling or dismantling tasks, and the majority of elevator-related fatalities in construction were due to falls to a lower level.
Elevator installers and repairers had the highest risk of fatal injuries among all construction occupations.
Younger construction workers had a higher risk of both fatal and nonfatal injuries involving elevators than their older counterparts.
While Hispanic workers had a higher risk of elevator-related fatal injuries, they were less likely to experience nonfatal injuries related to elevators.
About 25,000 people in the general public were treated at hospitals due to elevator- or escalator-related injuries in 2017, and the number jumped by 30% in the last decade.
To ensure the safe operation of elevators and the protection of employees, OSHA requires employers to assure that employees who install and maintain elevators are adequately trained and knowledgeable about proper installation, wiring, and maintenance procedures. Organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) have set standards for the construction and maintenance of elevators and escalators and their safe operation. In addition, NIOSH FACE reports have provided specific recommendations on how to prevent elevator-related injuries based on case evaluations.
As an elevator service contractor, you should ask yourself, does your elevator software help prevent accidents? Many of the elevator- and escalator-related deaths and injuries could have been prevented if adequate protection and safe work practices and procedures had been in place. Software like FIELDBOSS Elevator Contractor Management can help prevent accidents from happening. FIELDBOSS provides automatic alerts to notify you of your maintenance jobs, detailed checklists with tasks, all the historical data of previous work done and parts used, lists of all code required tests, and so much more. Our elevator service software puts critical information in the hands of field workers, improves office to field technician communication, as well as technician to technician communication, streamlines processes and boosts productivity. By staying connected, making regular service calls and being up to date on equipment, FIELDBOSS can help you prevent accidents before they happen.
In 2018, the elevator industry reached new heights. MSN reported that it was one of the fastest growing industries in 2018 alongside other building equipment specialists. This is in line with the trend of previous years. Elevator installation and repair are a key part of the construction industry, one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation. While the success and growth of the industry is a good thing, it can also lead to some challenges.
Aging Industry & Skills Gap
There has been an increasing worry in the industry that as seasoned mechanics retire, there is a lack of skilled, trained technicians to replace them. These new mechanics lack the same experience that aging technicians do. Many contractors and business owners also feel there is a lack of accountability in the industry. As the industry continues to grow, companies are hiring with quantity over quality in mind. An elevator mechanic is one of the highest paid, and one of the most crucial technical services, yet there is a huge lack of skilled people to do the work. Unfortunately, some mechanics take advantage of the situation by being careless on the job, as they know that they can quickly find another job with their highly coveted skill set in an industry lacking in people with technical expertise. At this point, there is no solution in sight for these problems. After fifteen years of having the same industry issues, contractors feel that the Ministry of Labour is unmotivated to find solutions, even though the elevator industry provides an essential, yet undervalued, service.
Elevator contractors are aware of how they are often portrayed in the media- as the villains of the service industry. Unfortunately, when elevator companies come under scrutiny, there is no media to represent, or vouch for them, and no real way for them to defend themselves when something goes wrong. In the past, the media has been quick to blame the elevator industry for not doing their job and portrays the elevator contractors in a negative light.
As the elevator industry continues to evolve and change, contractors want to see action taken to help alleviate these challenges. They are no longer satisfied having meeting after meeting about the same unresolved problems. The primary question they’re asking is “how can we convince the right people to make a change?” They want to establish concrete steps for how the governing bodies, the companies themselves, and the individuals in the industry can work together to overcome the challenges the industry is facing. Only time will tell if the industry can rally together to make meaningful, and lasting changes that have been long overdue.
Automation may have made elevator operators obsolete, but it’s quite the opposite for those who install and repair elevators. Elevator Mechanic shot up the Canadian Business ranking of Canada’s Best Jobs in 2017. It had the highest growth rate and rose from No. 74 in 2016 to No. 10 in 2017.,
Salary Growth (2010–2016):
Change in Employees (2010–2016):
What fueled the tremendous growth in the need for elevator mechanics?
The booming construction market is fueling the demand for high-rises, and by extension, elevators. Adding to the construction boom is the Canadian Press investigation last year that revealed a ‘crisis’ in faulty elevators. As a result, there are plenty of opportunities for elevator mechanics as landlords’ scramble for qualified contractors to maintain their systems. Although Canada’s construction boom has led to tremendous growth in the need for elevator technicians— the number of elevator mechanic jobs have grown 94% in Canada – the field is having serious growing pains.
Clearly, elevator mechanics are in short supply. Like other occupations in the skilled labour force, elevator technicians get overlooked when students graduating from high school start looking for careers. As well, there are more people retiring than those coming into the workforce to replace them leaving a huge void to fill.
Elevator mechanics face many challenges
Elevators are complex and becoming even more so. Elevator technology is moving so fast that it’s near impossible for technicians to keep pace. “Smart elevators” use algorithms to shuttle passengers more efficiently, and some technologies adjust the heat and air conditioning of office floors based on where people land. Meanwhile, technicians must also deal with elevators that date back to the 1930s, which can be unpredictable. With multiple cars that sometimes dispatch seemingly at their own will, a mix of old and new technologies that make them stubborn to fix, and new flight speeds of 100 floors per minute, being an elevator technician is a tough job.
Along with the challenge of keeping up with the technology is the challenge of keeping pace with maintenance calls. As property owners try to cut costs, technicians are reporting a dangerous lack of maintenance. As well, with the lack of skilled technicians and the increasing number of elevators to be serviced, some technicians rush through hundreds of maintenance jobs per month, reportedly with time limits as quick as seven minutes per visit. Politicians are pushing new policies, but still, increasing numbers of citizens are getting stuck inside elevators, stuck with dangerous ones, if not stuck with the stairs.
Politicians have initiated new legislation. Ontario introduced the Maintenance Control Program for Elevating Devices in 2014, telling mechanics exactly which tasks to perform each month, down to vacuuming the pit. Toronto Member of Parliament Han Dong has also introduced the Reliable Elevators Act, which mandates maintenance timelines and data collection on elevator traffic.
Elevator maintenance is a high-paying job, yet there’s still a mismatch of supply and demand. More mechanics need to be trained, if only to ease the demand on those already working in the field. There is obviously a great need for qualified technicians and an abundance of opportunity for a well-paying career.
The Elevator Service industry has changed dramatically in the last few years. Customers want faster service, machinery is getting more complicated, and competition is fierce. Elevator service companies are trying to keep pace with the hectic growth of the industry while at the same time trying to increase revenue from maintenance and repair, eliminate fines, increase up-time, and provide better service to their customers. With so many new challenges, the only way to win, keep, and grow your business is with the help of an Elevator Contractor Management Software solution.
Here are 5 major challenges that an intelligent software solution can help you overcome:
Challenge 1: Increased Expectations of Customer Service
Customer service expectations have dramatically increased in the past few years. Thanks in part to 24/7 connectivity and the ability to reach companies via a number of different channels, customers now want instant response to questions, repairs or replacements to be dealt with immediately, and to solve the problem on the first visit. For Elevator service companies the pressure to fix it right the first time has never been higher, a near impossible task without the help of technology. With a comprehensive, intelligent Elevator Contractor Management Solution, technicians are always on-time, prepared and armed with all the information they need to offer superior customer service and to fix the job right the first time. Customers will always be satisfied and never need to look elsewhere!
Challenge 2: Avoiding Fines & Violations
In an industry that is continuously transforming, it’s no surprise that elevator compliance is also constantly evolving. The Department of Buildings (DOB), OSHA, and other governing bodies have been boosting regulatory efforts in an attempt to keep elevators code compliant and millions of passengers safe. In the past five years alone, there have been significant code and rule changes that have had a major financial impact on building owners, managers, and elevator service companies. There is no evidence the continued flow of compliance changes will be slowing anytime soon. NYC has been the most enforced city where elevator violations are now the most commonly issued DOB violations. Although the majority of elevator violations are issued as a result of routine maintenance inspections, new administrative violations for failure to conduct and file paperwork for mandated annual inspections are now widely issued. The only way to stay safe and compliant is to use an Elevator Contractor Management software that automatically and continuously updates, collects critical data, and issues alerts on violations, complaints, inspections, fines, hearings, jobs, and permits for property owners, managers, and service companies. In today’s environment, compiling manual information on a spreadsheet is not enough to prevent critical issues from slipping through the cracks. Constant attention and technology are required to prevent the accumulation of risk factors that can lead to violations and fines.
Challenge 3: Synchronizing All Those Moving Parts
One of the great challenges of delivering stellar elevator service is the number of “moving parts” in the process. From the moment a customer calls to the time the case is closed and an invoice sent, there are a number of steps that can be mismanaged, especially if a company is still primarily paper-based. Companies can conquer the multi-step field service process by automating and synchronizing it. Field service software designed specifically for the elevator industry can help managers in the office organize the workforce and help field technicians on the move better manage their individual workflows all in one central place. With a connected field service management solution, all duplicate data entry is eliminated as data entered once is instantly synced.
Challenge 3: Real-Time Communication
Keeping track of the location of field service technicians used to be impossible, unless they called in. It was difficult to re-assign tasks, to know if they had run into problems, or if they had completed their assigned job ahead of schedule. Real-time communication and the ability to see where field service engineers are and where they are in their schedule or job can help managers rapidly re-assign those technicians that are running ahead of time, or send in additional help to those that have run into problems. Technicians can update the status of their job with the click of a button to let the office know if they are on-route, starting a job, or job completed. Elevator contractor management software enables real-time communication so everyone is on the same page working as a cohesive and efficient team.
Challenge 4: Operational Costs Are Rising
Not only are customer expectations rising, but so too is the competition to deliver the best service. Add to this pressurized environment the fact that operational costs are also increasing. Keeping operational costs under control is one of a field service manager’s biggest headache. Parts that need to be ordered in, excessive drive times, extra truck rolls, warranty leakage etc are all costing businesses money. Using an end-to-end elevator contractor management software, managers and owners can easily pinpoint where their operational costs are escalating and how to bring them under control. And all of it can be done in real-time….no more waiting for end of quarter reports. Find out immediately when your modernization jobs get off course in time to redirect the project. Gain visibility into your technicians’ performance. Just because your techs are working 40 hours doesn’t mean they’re productive during those 40 hours. Take advantage of real-time data to facilitate intelligent business decisions to lower your operational costs and increase your revenue.
Challenge 5: Keeping Field Service Staff Happy
Elevator service technicians are the face of the company. Letting them perform their jobs without wasting time on operational or administrative tasks keeps them happy and, therefore, keeps your customers happy. Equipping technicians with all the knowledge they need and the ability to get help quickly if things go wrong can dramatically improve their performance. Giving them tools to easily locate the job site and equipment, ensure they have the correct parts, have all the customer and equipment history, and minimize their paperwork lets them concentrate on the job they were hired to do. Happy technicians are productive technicians!
As your business grows, it takes a lot of work, organization and communication to succeed. There are dozens of moving parts and tough decisions to make every day, and you need to stay on top of it all in order to move the company in the right direction. Whether for tracking client needs, arming your field staff, connecting departments or making data-informed decisions, you’ll find that implementing a synchronized system that works for you 24/7 and effectively eliminates human error is a natural, effective and revenue-generating investment.