Apartment Elevator Safety and Maintenance

Elevator accidents don’t discriminate; rich or working-class – they come for all. In January 2020, PATH India MD, an industrialist died in a negligently maintained elevator which crashed from a height of 70 ft. In February of this year, a lift technician was killed while repairing a residential lift in Mumbai, while last year, a young man died in Gurugram due to faulty elevator equipment. 

Elevator deaths are rare yet entirely possible if vigilance and foresight are not exercised. It’s disturbing to think how an absolutely useful tool for transportation can claim lives unexpectedly when not maintained and used with proper care. We can’t always escape mishaps, but we can at least exercise appropriate caution when using elevators for the sake of our own safety and that of our neighbors and loved ones. 

Elevator safety tips for usage in residential buildings

1. Always adhere to the overload warning
2. Don’t press the stop button under any circumstances.
3. Never try to open or hold the door from closing by inserting your hand or any other object. Use the buttons instead.
4. Don’t allow a gush of water to enter the lift while cleaning the shaft, lift interiors or the adjacent lobby or during fire drills. It may cause short circuits and damage to electrical components.
5. If you’re trapped inside, don’t panic. Press the emergency call button, or use the emergency phone inside the panel.
6. Don’t pry open the door to climb out as the door may crush you. Don’t try to exit through the safety hatch on top as it’s for experts/ engineers.
7. A trained building manager or watchman should try to help the trapped person out, or immediately call professional help. Untrained volunteers should refrain from endangering the lives of those trapped inside.
8. Report any jerky movements, suspicious, creaky sounds you encounter on your elevator ride.
9. Don’t let children play inside or around the elevator.
10. Don’t use elevators during power outages (even in emergency mode) or during a fire or other calamities.

Elevator maintenance guidelines 

Safety measures aside, maintenance is equally critical to keep apartment lifts accident-free.

Main reasons for lift breakdown and malfunction are improper usage, intentional vandalism, poor servicing and lack of budget for repair/maintenance. 

Elevator maintenance contracts are of 3 types, full service, partial service, oil and greasing contracts.

Ensure your lift maintenance contract includes repair, maintenance, breakdown service, part replacements, regular preventive visits – all from a registered, experienced, credentialled company that has highly trained professionals.

MC should hand out the agency’s action check-list (along with AMC documents) to the building manager, who should ensure every item on the agenda is serviced. Maintenance agenda varies from contract to contract but below is a general outline of a full-service contract (reference bids of Johnson, OTIS).

– Monthly to quarterly maintenance: 
Inspect doors, alarm, button, pump unit, call button, relief valves, starter contacts, car guide shoes, car phone, hall key switches, greasing of speed governors, pulleys, clean ropes, oil electric brakes, repair/oil flexible cable, service limit switches/car control switches, terminal limit switches, final limit switches, governor switches, check and adjust traction ropes, door motor brushes, dust control panels, check indicator lamp, voltage of rectifiers/thrusters

– Biannual to annual maintenance (includes above)
Inspect and replace all safety circuits, safety gears, oil buffers, clean and grease sheaves, counterweights, oil door motor bearings, wear of car guide shoes, clean and tighten wire connection boxes, cable inlets/outlets, gearbox bearings, check full travelling cables for breakage, fraying, clean and paint hoistway, clean elevator pits, sills, tracks, machine room, check firemen service phase I & II.

Partial maintenance contract excludes replacements and repair as well as breakdown assistance for which you’re billed additionally. Oiling and greasing cover basic lubrication services.

Get a customized report after every visit and inspection so that you’re fully aware of how many components were serviced and repaired.

A contract that provides top-notch routine/preventive maintenance would be ideal for apartment complexes in the long run, so that safety is always prioritised and less money is spent in unforeseen expenses. Set aside an elevator AMC budget during annual financial planning with the consensus of the General Body as it’s imperative for safety, not optional.

Lastly, various state lifts acts (Bombay Lifts Acts, Delhi Lifts Rules) mandate that a government-appointed Inspector of Lifts visits the building (once or twice a year) to inspect that the lift operations are followed according to guidelines laid down by Bureau of Indian Standards.

How to pick the right elevators for your residential building

The lifespan of an elevator is considered to be 15 years, however with full maintenance and depending on the quality of the lift, it can last a good ten years longer. Builders are required to install lifts in accordance with the National Building Code of India and state-wise Development Control Regulations in cooperation with electricity boards. Factors that determine the type of lift are low-medium-high rise buildings, load-bearing requirements, energy efficiency, operational costs, technical specifications like speed, stops, and available lift shaft size. Safety-wise, it’s best to select a renowned and trustworthy manufacturer with a good brand name. On average, a modern lift carries 680 kg levitator with the ability to carry 6-8 people and ensures eco-friendly people and goods flow.

What do you think?