June 19, 2019

In 2017, the Commission voted to deny Petition 15-01, which requested that the Commission issue a mandatory safety standard for residential elevators to address an entrapment hazard between the internal elevator car door and the external hoistway door for elevators.[1]   At that time, I voted to deny the petition because the newly updated voluntary standard for elevators and escalators, ASME A17.1-2016, appeared to adequately address the entrapment hazard by limiting the gap between the elevator doors to four inches and specifying rigidity requirements for accordion-type interior doors.

In their initial request to the Commission, the petitioners also asked the Commission to conduct a recall of existing residential elevators to provide a retrofit solution to eliminate the hazardous gap formed between the internal elevator car door and the external hoistway door.  Their request for a retrofit recall was not included in the petition that the Commission docketed, considered and voted on in 2017 because the Commission’s regulations with respect to petitions relate only to requests for rulemaking activities, not recall or compliance activities.[2] 

On April 8, 2019, I met with several families whose children either died or were severely injured when they were entrapped between residential elevator doors.  They requested that the Commission seek a recall and retrofit of existing residential elevators to eliminate the hazardous gap between the doors.

No parent should ever have to experience what these parents have, especially when these deaths and injuries are preventable with some action from those who make and those who install the product.

Manufacturers, distributors and installers of residential elevators, in cooperation with the CPSC, must alert all elevator owners of this hidden entrapment hazard now. In addition, the manufacturers and installers should immediately offer to install, free of charge, a sufficient and complete remedy to consumers that eliminates the entrapment hazard caused by a 4-inch or larger gap in between an elevator’s doors.  Finally, any new residential elevator should be properly installed and consistent with ASME A17.1-2016.

This deadly hazard has gone unaddressed for too long.

 

[1] In 1981, the voluntary standard’s requirement for the gap between elevator car doors and external hoistway doors was changed from 4 inches to 5 inches. Between 1981 and May 2017, the ASME A17.1 Elevator Safety Code (Sec. 5.3.1.7.2) allowed gaps between doors to be as large as 5 inches. Safety experts agree that a gap larger than 4 inches allows children to become entrapped.

[2] See 16 C.F.R. § 1051.2(a).