This case takes place in Florida and involves a repair worker who died from an elevator shaft accident while performing maintenance duties for the elevators of a large office building. The man, along with a handful of other individuals, was performing routine maintenance of equipment located within the elevator shaft. However, the plaintiff and his coworkers had failed to do a lockout-tagout, which would have prevented the elevator from turning on while the men were working in the shaft. At some point, the elevator was activated and the elevator came down on the worker, crushing him to death. It is alleged that the lack of lockout-tagout protocols put the men working within the elevator shaft in significant danger, and that the accident could have been avoided if the company had proper safety procedures in place.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please discuss your background working with elevators in a construction setting.
- 2. Based on the brief case summary, what could have been done to avoid this accident?
Expert Witness Response E-022088
I have 30+ years of experience in the industry working for two of the world’s largest elevator / escalator companies. I have served in a Sales Role, Project Management, Region Modernization Manager and Branch Manager roles. As a Branch Manager I’ve also been involved in many suits and accident cases, and currently, I am consulting and advising clients on the condition of their equipment, quality of maintenance received, and consulting on modernization projects for owners. I have been on countless job sites, supervised installers and managed both the new construction departments as well as the construction superintendents. Typically, and I stress typically as this can vary depending on what the electrician was doing, this process is coordinated in advance and the elevator is left off by the elevator company, and a hoistway door is left open by approximately one inch for the electrician to gain access. Again typically, the automatic door is prohibited from closing which acts as a secondary safety device prohibiting the elevator from running.
Expert Witness Response E-022076
I have over 53 years of uninterrupted experience in the elevator industry, and am fully acquainted with elevator safety, elevator systems in construction environments and the lock-out, tag-out process in terms of elevator systems. I am a QEI licensed elevator inspector and am very qualified in all matters regarding elevator systems and elevator operation. This case appears to be a clear violation of elevator safety standards by permitting the elevator to either return to operation, or not being properly taken out of operation, when a construction worker is in the pit area.