Safety Regulators Fail to Address Deadly Home Elevator Flaw
Home elevators, which are relatively inexpensive and are often installed in multistory beach houses and the homes of the elderly or disabled, pose a significant risk of injury or death, especially to children. Tragically, the elevator industry has known of this danger for decades, but rather than fix the problems that cause their products to be dangerous, and they have instead doubled down and refused to make simple alterations that would save children’s lives.
At issue is a one-inch gap. If you have ever built a deck railing or installed a railing on a balcony, you know that most building codes require that the posts holding up the railing be no more than four inches apart. The four-inch gap is the generally accepted distance needed to prevent children from squeezing through the posts and injuring themselves in a fall.
In all elevators, there are two doors. The first door is in the building, and the second door is on the elevator itself. Home elevators do not work like the elevators you find in a hotel or office building. In a hotel or office building, the two sets of doors open and close simultaneously so that it appears that it is just one massive door sliding open. In a home elevator, the first door swings open like a closet or bedroom door. This first door opens up to the elevator car’s door, which is usually just a flexible, accordion-style sliding door.
The dangerous problem is that the gap between the swinging door and the accordion door is larger than four inches and is large enough for a child to enter and become trapped. As a result, children can fall into the gap between the two doors or can be crushed by a raising or lowering elevator car. While a fix for this deadly problem has been known for decades, elevator industry lobbyists have successfully blocked any required changes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that homeowners retain a certified elevator inspector to examine their home elevator for any gaps between doors and for other safety issues that could exist. Home elevators owners should ensure that their elevator complies with the latest safety standard, which is ASME A17.1-2016 from the Safety Codes of Elevators and Escalators.
If your child or a loved one has been injured or killed in an elevator accident, it is important that you speak with one of our personal injury attorneys right away. Call Parker Waichman LLP at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) for your free case review.
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