In 1854, Elisha Graves Otis, innovator and dramatist extraordinaire, ascended a transparent-sided mock-up of an elevator shaft way with an axe and a dream. He’d long toiled with a design that would improve the safety and braking systems of elevators. He was set on proving that his invention was capable of stopping an elevator car before it plummeted fatally to the ground, and so he ascended a specially-constructed tower in a test-model elevator that had his prototype installed. With visions of pioneering glory dancing in his head and the axe gripped firmly in his hand, he rose before the rapt crowd that’d gathered at New York’s Crystal Palace Exposition. Otis knew that by risking life and limb, he would demonstrate the efficacy of his device in a way that’d sear itself into the public consciousness. The short story? Otis chopped the rope, his system engaged, the elevator held, and he lived to both tell the story and profit wildly from it. And that’s why, over a century-and-a-half later, a large majority of elevators bear Otis’ name, despite the fact that he didn’t invent the elevator at all. He is the one to thank, however, for the alarmingly low rate of deaths in modern elevator accidents.
Elevator Quick Facts
- There are nearly a million elevators in the United States of America, servicing thousands of residential, commercial and industrial buildings (of the appropriate height.)
- There are two main types of elevators: passenger and freight. Passenger elevators are built for comfort and speed. Freight elevators for brute force and hauling capability.
- There are different types of elevator propulsion, two of the most common being: traction-driven and hydraulic-driven.
- Passenger elevators average about 5 people per trip.
- The freight elevators at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn are large enough to hold buses!
Elevator Accident Statistics
We as a people have a deep-seated (though, thanks to Mr. Otis, irrational) fear of elevators, thanks in part to campy horror flicks and their tendency to depict elevators falling, cinematically, to their doom. However, elevators are fairly safe. On average, only 27 people per year are killed by elevators. The communal nightmare seems to be getting trapped inside an elevator, and the cord connecting elevator-to-ceiling snapping, sending all inhabitants careening down towards their demise. The reality of the situation, though, is that an elevator is not suspended by just one cable. Each of its supporting cables is strong to hold the elevator by itself. And most elevators are outfitted with proficiently designed mechanisms that catch the car if it does, indeed, begin to free-fall.
An elevator poses the most danger to those trying to climb out through the open doors of a stalled car. If a car is trapped between floors, attempting to extricate yourself from a stuck elevator is an especially dangerous endeavor. While Otis’ safety system will catch a rapidly descending car before it hits the ground floor, it can’t prevent grievous bodily injury to those whose limbs are caught between floor and car in the event of an unexpected drop.
Here, perhaps, the campy horror movies are at their most gorily accurate.
Proper protocol dictates that, if stuck in an elevator, you remain where you are! Pressing the “CALL” button should put you in touch with the proper authority. Otherwise, a cell phone on-hand will allow you to call 9-1-1. Once emergency services have been contacted, it is wisest to sit tight and wait for specialists to arrive. Firemen or other professionals can help secure the situation and make sure that the elevator is in no danger of dropping further BEFORE you attempt to climb out.
Reasons Elevators Malfunction
- Faulty wiring causes electrical malfunction.
- Inexpert, incomplete, or otherwise incompetent maintenance or inspection causes a hazardous defect.
- A shaft way was left open to the public- something that should be avoided at all costs.
- FYI: An overcrowded elevator will not, except in the most extreme of circumstances, cause the car to drop down the shaft. In these situations, an elevator’s internal programming will prevent it from moving at all, as a precautionary measure.
Elevators are just a single component of buildings, found in units both residential and commercial. Maybe it is our intrinsic claustrophobia that perpetuates our fear, a fear that is ignited when we enter into an elevator’s confined space. Though dramatizations of elevators plummeting down their shafts surely haven’t helped. Whatever the case, some of us will still feel a momentary pang of dread when entering that Otis-emblazoned threshold- despite the stats.
The reality? Most buildings harbor many more dangerous sectors than that one vertically mobile room. Stairs, in all their simplicity, claim exponentially more lives each year. Unchecked carbon monoxide detectors are liable to fall into states of disrepair, and then will remain quiet when tenants need their services most. This is to say nothing of the dangers lurking within your own apartment. We at Kaplan Lawyers PC implore you to fear not when riding the elevator, and we insist you remain vigilant and careful throughout all of your daily duties. But if you or a loved one has been injured in a residential or commercial building, and your injury was the direct result of a proprietor or landlord’s negligence or malfeasance, you may be entitled to compensation. This compensation can help cover your medical bills and keep you financially afloat as you focus on what’s most important: recovering your health. If you’re unsure where you stand, the professional and compassionate team of attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers can help inform you of your rights. Our consultations are a free and easy way to get started, so contact us today.