About 27 people are killed in elevator accidents each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the CPSC. Injuries from elevators affect about 10,200 people per year, with the majority of these accidents being related to elevator door malfunction, carriage misalignment with floors, and passenger safety vulnerabilities.
The U.S. Labor Department’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reports that half of the annual elevator-related fatalities occur in repair or maintenance workers who service elevators, or people who use elevators as part of their employment, such as in an office building. In the occupational-related elevator deaths category, 53 percent occur during installation or repair, 17 percent occur during work in the shaft or car, and 30 percent occur during performance of work adjacent to (but not on board) the elevator.
For passengers using elevators while not at work, such as in apartment buildings, almost half of the deaths were due to falls in the elevator shaft, and the other half occurred as a result of being caught between the elevator and the shaft wall. The underlying causes of the fatal incidents may be due to one of several defects or malfunctions, such as in the wiring, pulley systems, door operation, or improper maintenance procedures.¹
Read Failure Analysis Expert Peter Chen’s case study setting forth the steps he took in his investigation of a fatal elevator accident to determine the cause.
PETER CHEN, M.S.M.E., M.B.A., P.E., CFEI, ACTAR, is a mechanical engineer at ARCCA specializing in Accident Reconstruction, Fire Cause/Origin, Product Failure/Liability, Car/Truck Failure Analysis, Industrial Equipment, Worksite Safety, Aviation, Medical/Rehabilitative and Exercise Equipment, Warnings and Instructions, and Transportation, including Railroad incidents. He is ACTAR-certified, a Certified Fire/Explosion Investigator, a Certified Crash Data Retrieval Analyst and a JLG Certified Equipment Trainer.