Three companies have agreed to recall their home elevators to fix a safety issue that has injured or killed children for decades.
According to a report in The Washington Post, this is the latest step for federal safety regulators who have been in a long standoff with an industry that has been reluctant to provide a simple fix for the safety problem.
Gap in Home Elevators Causes Crushing Injuries
The design of many home elevators made prior to 2017 allows for enough space between the inner and outer doors for a small child to slip in between. Children have been crushed when the elevator moved to another floor.
While accidents involving these elevators have been relatively rare, they have been tragic and horrifying. Between 1981 and 2019, at least eight children have been killed and two more seriously injured in such elevator entrapments, according to the CPSC and newspaper accounts.
Two other manufacturers continued to refuse the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) request that they voluntarily agree to notify consumers and make minor modifications to eliminate the danger.
The agency called out another elevator company, Waupaca Residential Elevators, issuing a public warning for consumers to stop using their residential elevators and lock them down until they can be properly inspected.
The Fix Costs $100
Elevator industry experts say the actual number of injuries and fatalities is significantly higher than that. They also say that the fix to this serious and lethal safety issue is extremely simple – adding a $100 plastic or foam guard that fills the space between the doors in home elevators when children could potentially become entrapped. However, industry officials for years resisted calls to make even these minimal safety improvements.
They have argued that the problem was complicated and not their responsibility, an investigation by the Washington Post in 2019 found. Last year, CPSC approved its first-ever safety recall for residential elevators when Otis Elevator Co. voluntarily agreed to inspect and repair about 5,000 home elevators. On Jan. 11, three more companies agreed to similar recall actions: Bella Elevator, Inclinator, and Savaria. These include 69,000 units.
CPSC has pointed out that an elevator made by Waupaca was involved in an incident in 2011 where a 4-year-old child became trapped between the doors and was discovered dangling by his foot in the elevator shaft. While that child survived, he was blinded because of the injuries he suffered, CPSC said. Advocates say that installing the space guard can easily prevent these types of horrific tragedies.
In 2019, a 4-year-old boy escaped serious injury after being trapped under a ThyssenKrupp Access elevator in his grandparents’ home.
It is outrageous that these companies are pushing back on a solution that would cost them a mere $100 per elevator, but would help prevent these horrific and tragic incidents. If your child has been injured in an elevator accident involving these types of elevators, please contact an experienced product defect lawyer who can provide you with more information about pursuing your legal rights.