Three Residential Elevator Companies Accept Recalls To Address Safety Risks To Children

Three companies have agreed to recall their home elevators to fix a safety hazard that has killed and injured children for decades, regulators said on Tuesday – the latest step in a long standoff with an industry often reluctant to provide the solution simple.

Two other major manufacturers continued to deny the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s request to voluntarily agree to educate consumers and make minor changes to eliminate the hazard.

One of the companies, ThyssenKrupp Access, was sued by the CPSC last year to force it into compliance. This case continues.

The agency also called another company, Waupaca Residential Elevators, issuing a public warning Tuesday for people to stop using their residential elevators and lock them until they can be inspected.

“This is a long-standing problem,” CPSC President Alex Hoehn-Saric said. “We took action where we could act. “

Waupaca did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The design of many home elevators made before 2017 leaves enough space – just a few inches – between the interior and exterior doors for a small child to fit in between. Only one set of doors moved with the elevator. The children were run over when the elevator was called to another floor.

Last July, a 7-year-old boy was killed in a home elevator accident at a beach rental house in the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Accidents are relatively rare but terrifying. At least eight children were killed and two others seriously injured in elevator traps between 1981 and 2019, according to CPSC files and newspaper accounts. But elevator industry experts say the real number is significantly higher.

The solution is simple: add a $ 100 plastic or foam protector that fills in the space between the doors.

But industry officials have resisted calls for these security improvements for years. They argued to federal regulators that the issue was complicated and was not their responsibility, a 2019 Washington Post investigation found. The issue drew attention on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers called the agency to prioritize the danger.

Last year, the CPSC approved its first-ever residential elevator safety recall when Otis Elevator Co. voluntarily agreed to inspect and repair approximately 5,000 residential elevators.

Three other companies accepted similar recall actions on Tuesday: Bella Elevator, Inclinator and Savaria. The recalls target approximately 69,000 units manufactured by these three manufacturers.

The companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Companies have sold elevators under different brands over the years. The companies have set up a website to help people determine if the recall applies to their home elevator.

It is estimated that 100,000 to 200,000 residential elevators could have a dangerously wide door gap, allowed by industry installation codes before 2017.

While none of the elevators from the three companies have been linked to entrapment accidents, an elevator made by Waupaca was, according to the CPSC.

In 2011, a 4-year-old was trapped between the doors of a Waupaca and was found hanging by his foot in the elevator shaft. The child survived but went blind, the agency said.

“These are terrible tragedies and can really be avoided by putting a space guard in there,” Hoehn-Saric said.

The ongoing lawsuit against ThyssenKrupp Access, which is part of the German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp, shows how the industry has resisted solving the problem. The CPSC withdrew from filing a similar recall complaint against the company in 2019, despite appeals from the victims’ parents.

Further pressure to act came later in 2019 when a 4-year-old boy escaped a serious injury after being trapped under a ThyssenKrupp Access elevator at his grandparents’ house.


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Susan W. Lloyd