If you are like most New Jersey residents, you have had that morbid thought once or twice when in a shopping mall, apartment or high-rise building elevator: the elevator cord just snapped? What if the power went out in the middle of your ride? What if the door closed on you when you were halfway out the door? For the most part, these fears have no bearing, as elevator and escalator accidents are rare. However, they do happen.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, elevator and escalators kill about 30 individuals each year. They injure an additional 17,000 people. These numbers come from United States reports alone. Elevator accidents are the cause of nearly 90 percent of deaths and nearly 60 percent of injuries, making them the more dangerous of the two modes of transportation.
Before you panic, however, note that the numbers include reports from maintenance technicians, repairmen, installation professionals and those doing work near elevator shafts. These individuals account for nearly half of all elevator and escalator deaths. Elevator deaths involving workers occur when workers get caught in between moving parts, get struck by wayward elevators or counterbalances or are in an elevator when it collapses.
Several regulatory agencies have strict guidelines in place to prevent escalator and elevator accidents from occurring. For instance, agencies now require technicians to de-energize and lockout electrical circuits when performing maintenance. They also require employers to provide employees with fall protection and to conduct adequate inspections and maintenance before sending repairmen in to investigate issues.
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