Tag Archives for " safety "

Lift Off

A new year can mean a new start, depending on how you view the change in calendar year. For me, the new year is time to review and refresh activities in both our personal and professional lives as needed. And after reviewing the NEII blog series, we decided our blog needed a refreshed identity. POINT/BLANK is now the name of my official blog and for those who know me, it fits me perfectly. I tell it like it is. This approach has served me well throughout my career and during my tenure at NEII, even if it hasn’t always been easy to discuss difficult issues.


For the last 100+ years, NEII’s mission has been to promote a high level of safety for passengers and industry professionals; ensure consistent adoption and enforcement of policies, codes and regulations; maximize choice for building transportation systems; drive innovation and performance; and be the trusted resource for industry information.


And while NEII’s work advanced each part of that mission last year, this blog is focused on how we increased our visibility as the trusted resource for industry information. For example, in our 2023 blog series, we shared an inside look at:


In our monthly Elevator World column, we helped contractors, suppliers, architects, and building owners and managers better understand remote interaction operation and cybersecurity, licensing challenges in the Big Apple as well as why SkillsUSA may be the key to unlocking a more diverse talent pipeline.


And we sat down with a few of the leading building media brands, including FacilitiesNet, to discuss how the latest ASME code will impact building operations professionals while also authoring a guest column on elevators in the commercial real estate industry for the Tampa Bay Business Journal.


Being the authoritative voice of the elevator industry and telling the important stories that need to be told is one part of what we do, but it’s the behind-the-scenes work with governing bodies, AHJs and municipalities, unions, associations and member companies that truly sets NEII apart.

In 2023, our mission was clear:


  • Elevate industry safety
  • Drive workforce diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Engage throughout the code lifecycle

Safe working practices remained our top priority and this focus was integrated into all aspects of NEII’s work, including codes, advocacy, communications and DEI initiatives. This included finalizing the next edition of the Field Employee Safety Handbook that is set to be released in Q1 2025 and partnering with the construction industry on hoistway safety. NEII provided more than two dozen public comments and testimony and advanced safety standards through codes to help drive necessary change in the elevator industry. We also further promoted inclusive PPE resources and awarded more than 100 safety ambassador awards to participants who learned key safety tips as part of NEII’s Elevator and Escalator Safety Challenge.


And we didn’t stop there. NEII facilitated company breakout sessions at Tradewomen Build Nations, introduced thousands of trades-focused students to the elevator industry through our joint exhibition with the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) at SkillsUSA Techspo, and once again served as a key industry partner for Construction Inclusion Week.


I’m proud of the impact and progress we made in 2023 but see even bigger things ahead this year as we continue pushing AHJs to eliminate outdated codes and deviations, shift the talent-pipeline development focus while transitioning recruitment outreach to diverse communities, as well as target high-risk areas to drive improvement in safety.


If you have any questions you’d like answered in a future blog, please email info@neii.org.

About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII‘s membership includes the six major international companies – Fujitec America, Inc., KONE, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., Otis Elevator Company, Schindler Elevator Corporation, Thyssenkrupp Elevator Company and several other companies across the country. Collectively, the NEII members represent approximately eighty-five percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. 

For more information about NEII, please visit www.neii.org

The Blame Game

When an elevator or escalator breaks down or is out of service, who’s to blame?

With misinformation everywhere, it’s time to separate fact from fiction.

By Amy J. Blankenbiller, Executive Director, National Elevator Industry, Inc.


Fun fact #1: There are more than 1 million elevators and escalators between the U.S. and Canada that make more than 20 billion trips every year.


Fun fact #2: Building transportation systems are the safest form of public transportation in the world, and they are also the most used.


With the vast number of miles ridden annually, it is only natural that regular maintenance is required. No multistory building or city is immune to the need for elevators and escalators to be maintained properly. And maintenance means downtime because it is too dangerous for mechanics to work on equipment that is still in service.


Sometimes equipment may breakdown as well. Equipment can be out of service anywhere from minutes to weeks or longer depending on the circumstances, parts needed and their availability, complexity of the work, and many other factors. For some reason, however, these service disruptions tend to draw more attention than when a flight gets cancelled, or a car breaks down. And it seems like the media is often eager to point the finger at the party they feel deserves all the blame – the elevator service provider.


What’s the real story?


Let’s start with better understanding the role of the elevator industry in building transportation. There are three aspects to the building transportation industry – manufacturing, modernization and service/repair. Yes, there are a limited number of elevator manufacturers, and these same companies also do the majority of modernizations in North America, but when it comes to service/repair, however, there are hundreds of companies – large and small – that undertake this work.


Now let’s consider some of the assertions that have arisen in the media lately.


Statement: Manufacturers design their units in a manner so they can be the only ones to perform service, forcing building owners and property managers into long-term relationships they don’t want to be in. Is this fact or fiction? It is fiction.  


Safety codes require manufacturers to supply special tools if needed for their equipment, as well as unique procedures to guide other companies in how to work on their systems. Yes, technology can be “proprietary” but that is not unique to the elevator industry – many companies design equipment and develop processes/procedures that are not shared with competitors. But the key is whether or not equipment is “serviceable” and, all elevator and escalator equipment is serviceable by companies other than the manufacturer.  


Statement: Elevator service providers “bully” building owners and property managers into bad service contracts. Fact or fiction? This assertion too is fiction.


First, all elevators should be serviced on a regular basis to check equipment and ensure proper functionality. Promoting regular service  is not a  provider trying to get more money out of a customer, but rather those companies being responsible partners in ensuring the safety of that building’s tenants and guests. The responsibility for securing a service contract is on the building owner or manager, and the terms of that contract are ultimately determined by the building owner or managerand not the service provider.


Second, the enforcement of the applicable safety codes is the responsibility of the jurisdiction. So, when there is a failed safety inspection, it is the responsibility of the jurisdiction to take appropriate actions to ensure those systems are brought into compliance.


Statement: If an elevator has failed an inspection, that means it poses serious or life-threatening risks. Fact or fiction. Again, this statement is fiction.


A non-complaint inspection could be the result of a low risk issue such as a missing light on a button panel or missing signature on a form. It is critical to understand the root cause of a failed inspection as oftentimes the reasons elevators may be taken out of service is for minor issues.


Statement: The age of equipment can play a role in equipment being taken out of service for extended periods of time. Fact or fiction? This statement is a fact.


But the age of equipment alone does not result in breakdowns or equipment being out of service for extended periods of time. Many times, these issues arise because building owners or managers skip routine maintenance, delay modernizations, or forgo investing in necessary upgrades.

The lifespan of an elevator is 20 to 25 years, although there is legacy equipment in operation that is 30 or more years old. Think about driving a car built in 1988 with more than 200,000 miles on it. The greatest mechanic can be performing the highest level of service, but that car is going to break down if key components are not replaced when needed. We accept this “standard operating procedure” when it comes to automobiles and have no issue replacing belts, plugs, electronics and transmissions. So why are people unwilling to accept that elevators that are 25 years old too?

Readers should now have a better understanding of why elevators shut down or need to be taken down out of service, but what causes equipment to be out of service for an extended length of time?


Here are the facts.


Supply chain issues and parts shortages have impacted all industries due to the pandemic and recent geo-political events, and the elevator industry is no exception. Medium covered this issue when it discussed how the semiconductor shortage was impacting elevators as modern elevator systems rely on semiconductors for motor control, data transmission and interface with touchscreens, sensors and communication systems. The age of equipment can also impact the availability of parts as many companies do not stockpile large quantities of parts for elevators that are more than 30 years old.  


There is also a lack of qualified elevator mechanics. NEII, NEIEP and the IUEC are working together to grow the talent pipeline with a heightened focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion through partnerships with organizations like SkillsUSA, which is developing the skills of  students interested in pursuing a career in the trades.


The elevator industry is constantly working to ensure building transportation remains the safest form of transportation. And while there will always be obstacles (we didn’t even touch upon how human error and misuse can shut down or damage vertical transportation systems), the elevator industry will always put the safety of passengers and its workers first. So, the next time an elevator or escalator is out of service, I urge you to separate fact from fiction.


To stay up to date on the elevator industry, follow the National Elevator Industry, Inc. on its social media channels and bookmark www.neii.org.

About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII‘s membership includes the six major international companies – Fujitec America, Inc., KONE, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., Otis Elevator Company, Schindler Elevator Corporation, TK Elevator and several other companies across the country. Collectively, the NEII members represent approximately eighty-five percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. 

For more information about NEII, please visit www.neii.org

NEII and NEIEP Participate in SkillsUSA Techspo

TOPEKA, KS (June 26, 2023) – National Elevator Industry, Inc. (NEII), the premier national trade association providing advocacy, codes, safety expertise, and industry research for the elevator and escalator industry, in partnership with the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP), participated in the SkillsUSA Techspo Trade Show, which was held June 20-22, 2023, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.


The elevator industry leaders co-sponsored a booth with hands-on simulations to help students visualize a day on the job as an elevator and escalator technician. Several mechanics from NEII member companies were onsite to speak with students about their career paths and the rewarding work the industry provides. There was also an opportunity for students to take an elevator selfie for a chance to win a variety of prizes, including an iPad Pro.


“NEII is thrilled to join together with NEIEP and embark on this partnership with SkillsUSA. Together, we hope to connect with individuals interested in the trades and develop an expanded pipeline of talent for this incredible industry,” said Amy Blankenbiller, Executive Director of NEII.


The Techspo Trade Show is part of the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, which features more than 6,500 career and technical education students—all state winners—who participate in a variety of trade, technical and leadership competitions. This was the first time the elevator industry has participated in this event.


SkillsUSA is a national organization with chapters in every state, serving more than 300,000 middle school, high school, as well as college/postsecondary students interested in pursuing careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations. According to SkillsUSA, 49.6% of their students are from historically underrepresented groups by race and ethnicity, and 38% identify as female. The elevator industry has made tremendous strides in recent years improving diversity and inclusion in the financially lucrative elevator industry. 


“As an industry, we want to ensure a workforce that is diverse and inclusive. Partnering with a national network like SkillsUSA is a great opportunity to reach a workforce more indicative of the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) and brings a special talent to the elevator industry,” added David Morgan, NEIEP Executive Director.


For more information on the elevator industry, go to neiep.org and neii.org.

About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII’s membership includes the six major international companies and several other companies across the U.S. Collectively, NEII members represent approximately 85 percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. More information is available at neii.org. Stay up to date on the latest news in the elevator industry by following NEII on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About NEIEP

NEIEP empowers union elevator constructors with the knowledge and skills they need to reach the highest standard of professionalism and safety in the industry. NEIEP’s purpose is to develop, implement, and maintain curriculum for members of the IUEC, offering a network of support throughout members’ careers. This support encompasses apprenticeship training, continuing education, instructor training, labs, and certifications. NEIEP’s core values can be summed up in a handful of words: safety, inclusivity, community, and support. These values guide the program’s commitment to providing the best education and support to the men and women of the IUEC, whether they are in class or on the job. Visit neiep.org for more information.  


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Feeling Trapped

Modern elevator emergency communications address an important industry challenge – communication during entrapments for visual-, hearing- and speech-impaired passengers 


By Amy J. Blankenbiller, Executive Director, National Elevator Industry, Inc.


The elevator industry has numerous processes and procedures in place to ensure a speedy and safe resolution to entrapments. ” Elevator emergency communications systems have been around since the 1950’s; however, there have been several changes and improvements along the way.  Every elevator built today is equipped with a means to communicate with someone who can take action 24/7. 

 

Elevator emergency communications systems are available in hundreds of thousands of elevators around the world and serve as serve an important safety function. For those passengers who are either hearing- or speech-impaired, the solution is not that simple. And that communication barrier can lead to a frightening experience.  

 

NEII Senior Director of Codes, Kevin Brinkman, does an exceptional job of sharing what went on behind the scenes from a codes perspective to bring two-way elevator emergency communications for all to life in NEII’s next article for Elevator World, which will appear in the June 2023 edition. This is a must-read for building owners and property managers. In it, Kevin touches on how, starting in the early 2000s, elevator emergency communications advanced from a handset to a single push button identified by the word “HELP”and included braille markings for vision-impaired passengers. He walks through the technological advancements and resulting elevator code enhancements that have steadily improved emergency communications since, highlighting requirements in the 2018 edition of the International Building Code and the 2019 edition of ASME A17.1/CSA B44. 

 

I am proud of the work that Kevin and his code colleagues have achieved to improve safety for visual-, hearing- and speech-impaired passengers through the development and adoption of these code provisions. NEII will continue to review the codes and promote provisions that protect the safety of industry professionals and the riding public. We will also continue efforts to ensure consistent adoption and enforcement of policies, codes and regulations; maximize choice for building transportation systems; drive innovation and performance; and be the definitive leader and trusted resource for industry information. 

About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII‘s membership includes the six major international companies – Fujitec America, Inc., KONE, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., Otis Elevator Company, Schindler Elevator Corporation, TK Elevator  and several other companies across the country. Collectively, the NEII members represent approximately eighty-five percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. 

For more information about NEII, please visit www.neii.org

Toolbox Talks: Fall Hazards

In May, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Focus Four Campaign is centered on preventing fall hazards. Every year, OSHA raises awareness on the top four hazards on job sites that account for the vast majority of injuries and fatalities. 


Out of 5,190 worker fatalities in private industry in 2021, 1 out of 5 were in construction, a total of 968. The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites are:

  • Falls - 40%
  • Struck by Object - 8%
  • Electrocutions - 8%
  • Caught-in/between - 3%

Eliminating these four hazards would save a minimum of 568 workers' lives.


OSHA's Region Three office has provided the following toolbox talks and other resources for use on construction job sites to raise awareness and eliminate the top four hazards:



About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII‘s membership includes the six major international companies – Fujitec America, Inc., KONE, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., Otis Elevator Company, Schindler Elevator Corporation, TK Elevator  and several other companies across the country. Collectively, the NEII members represent approximately eighty-five percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. 

For more information about NEII, please visit www.neii.org


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Code of Honor

NEII carries on the work of its predecessors and plays a key role in the development of model safety codes


By Amy Blankenbiller, Executive Director, National Elevator Industry, Inc. 

 

On May 25, 1914, the Elevator Manufacturers Association (EMA), a predecessor to NEII, met for the first time to begin development of a U.S. elevator safety codeOnly three years later, The Uniform Regulations for the Construction and Installation of Passenger and Freight Elevators were published in 1917. EMA was also a key contributor to the first American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) elevator code, A Code of Safety Standards for the Construction, Operation, and Maintenance of Elevators, Dumbwaiters and Escalators, which was published by ASME in 1921. EMA, which transitioned to the National Elevator Manufacturing Industry, Inc. (NEMI) in 1934 and then to NEII in 1969, went on to contribute to every edition of the model elevator codes thereafter. 

 

Over 100 years later, NEII continues the tradition started by EMA and plays a significant role in elevator code development. NEII’s Central Code Committee – one of several groups and committees at NEII – consists of engineers and industry experts with over 300 years of combined experience, which is critical to provide guidance and expertise on safety code development and application. Central Code Committee members participate in more than 40 code committees within ASME, the International Code Council (ICC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and other model code and standard writing organizations. In addition, NEII staff and member company representatives partner with authorities across the U.S. and Canada to develop, update, and apply safety codes and standards that pertain to building transportation equipment. NEII also works on code interpretations and enforcement issues to assist our member companies when needed. 

 

But I want to focus this post on the development of the primary code that has not only redefined building transportation safety in North America but created a model for the rest of the world to follow. 

 

ASME A17.1/CSA B44, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators 

As discussed previously, NEII (and its predecessors) have been involved in the development of our industry’s model codes since the very beginning. In the 1990’s, NEII was part of the movement to create one unified elevator code for the U.S. and Canada. The process from inception to implementation took nearly 20 years but in 2007, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) code ASME A17.1/CSA B44 became the first fully harmonized standard throughout North America for the design, construction, installation, operation, inspection, testing, maintenance, alteration and repair of elevators, escalators and related conveyances. The code is continuously reviewed and updated every three years to ensure that the requirements in each edition represent the latest safety and technology available. 

 

In the article “Up to Code” that appeared in the March 2023 issue of Elevator World, Kevin Brinkman, NEII’s Senior Director of Codes, discussed how ASME A17.1/CSA B44 could serve as the blueprint for the rest of the world as we seek the seemingly impossible – one global unified elevator code.  

 

In an effort to achieve this lofty goal, NEII and its member companies actively engage in the development of elevator codes world-wide. The industry’s contributions date back to 1972 when the European Committee for Standardization (CEN)/Technical Committee (TC) 10 Lifts, Escalators and Moving Walks Committee held their first meeting to discuss standardization of European elevator codes. Many NEII Central Code Committee members participate in a variety of ISO code development committees today, sharing their knowledge and experience with the rest of the world.


To stay on top of the latest code developments as well as other advancements in the building transportation industry, sign up to receive NEII's Insider newsletter each month. 

About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII‘s membership includes the six major international companies – Fujitec America, Inc., KONE, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., Otis Elevator Company, Schindler Elevator Corporation, TK Elevator  and several other companies across the country. Collectively, the NEII members represent approximately eighty-five percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. 

For more information about NEII, please visit www.neii.org


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Innovating Safety: Elevators See Major Technology Advances in Wake of Disasters

[Originally published in Building Operating Management; May 15, 2019]


Every time we turn on the news we see the devastation caused by natural disasters, whether it is an earthquake, blizzard, hurricane, or other extreme weather event. Sometimes, building managers will know far in advance that a threat is heading their way; but other times, as was the case in the recent tornado that hit parts of Alabama and Georgia, ten minutes is all the warning they received.


In either case, preparation, training and practice can be the difference between life and death for building occupants. Is your facility prepared?

As our cities grow, so too have our buildings. Today, billions of people use elevators daily and by 2050, the number is expected to triple as population booms in urban centers. Technological and engineering advances have led to the construction of larger and taller buildings to meet the world’s growing need. Even in the best of times, it can be difficult to effectively transport building occupants. And if a disaster strikes – natural or otherwise – occupants will be unable to evacuate if the building and the building manager are not well prepared.


It will continue to be increasingly important for building managers to recognize the role elevators can play in the safe evacuation of building occupants. Preventive maintenance to keep elevators up to code, combined with a responsible egress plan and clear communication, will save lives in an extreme event.


Building Codes Continuously Support Innovation for Safety

Building managers are very familiar with building codes developed by the International Code Council (ICC), such as the International Building Code (IBC), but may not be as familiar with the codes for elevator and escalator safety developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). ASME A17.1/CSA B44 is the primary code in place for new product elevator/escalator designs and installation. It is used widely throughout North America and undergoes updates every three years by a panel of experienced experts with representation across various aspects of the elevator industry. While building owners are not responsible for enforcing these codes – the authority having jurisdiction oversees that – they still must comply with the elevator safety codes enforced in their area.


One of the key stakeholders in this process is the National Elevator Industry, Inc. (NEII), the national trade association of the building transportation industry. NEII’s primary mission is to drive the adoption of model codes and responsible policies across North America, promote safety for passengers and industry professionals, and advance innovation and performance. NEII supports and advocates for codes in several ways, including actively participating on code development committees, like the ASME, ICC and NFPA, to ensure the harmonization and consistency between the building codes and building transportation codes. This is particularly important for issues such as seismic safety that are addressed in both the building and elevator codes.


 New Requirements for Emergencies of All Types

Over the past several years, the codes have evolved to better address how elevators function during disasters.  While seismic requirements and Firefighters’ Emergency Operation (FEO) have been part of the code for many years, these requirements are continuously reviewed and updated as needed. In addition, new requirements have been added, or are being developed, to provide for occupant egress in emergencies and for operation during extreme weather events.  For example, ASME A17.1 now addresses Occupant Evacuation Operation (OEO) technology, flood detection technologies, and back-up power systems, to name a few.


Occupant Evacuation Operations

Unfortunately, it often takes a true tragedy to inspire innovation. In the aftermath of 9/11, it was obvious that more lives could have been saved if occupant egress was more efficient and elevators were part of the solution. Many building code changes have been prompted by lessons learned from that tragedy, including some hardening of the buildings and widening of stairwells. The reality is you cannot build a building that can withstand any possible threat. But what if you could safely use the elevator to evacuate people efficiently? That is where OEO comes in. This technology enables passengers to simply walk to the floor lobby, catch the designated elevator to a safer floor and from there make an efficient exit, freeing up the elevator for other occupants to use.


The idea is not to evacuate every occupant via the elevator, but to have more options for the occupants of the floor(s) of a building most at risk. This important game-changing innovation is already being used. At 181 Fremont in San Francisco, 14 of 17 elevators have been equipped with this technology by NEII member ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corporation. Many other market leaders utilize similar technologies and buildings are currently being constructed with OEO capabilities to maximize safety.


Advances in building design and elevator technology and changes to the codes help ensure that elevators can continue to operate in fire emergencies, provided the elevators are not exposed to the fire hazard. These changes include provisions to protect against the intrusion of smoke, fire and water into the hoistway, as well as providing for emergency power to the elevators.  The building codes require protected elevator lobbies in which real-time messaging displays provide information, such as availability and estimated time of the elevator car arrival, which the occupants can use to determine their best means of evacuation.


Elevator users in North America are familiar with signs posted in all elevator lobbies warning the public not to use elevators in case of a fire. Those signs had been mandated by the ASME A17.1/CSA B44 Safety Codes for Elevators and Escalators for years. With new technologies and safety codes that support new innovations, property managers will need to reeducate their tenants that elevators may be safe to use in some emergencies, once this technology becomes more prevalent.


Firefighters’ Emergency Operation

Elevators have long been required to include features in case of fire emergencies. Firefighters’ Emergency Operation (FEO) is required on all new passenger elevators. FEO Phase I is automatically activated by the fire alarm initiating devices to cause an elevator to travel to a designated landing where people can egress from the building.  Once the car has traveled to the designated level on Phase I and the passengers have exited, the elevator is only available to firefighters. FEO Phase II allows the firefighters to use the car to move equipment or people to aid in fighting the fire or evacuating the building.  


Flood Detection Technology

In response to flooding emergencies, such as Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast and Harvey in Houston, there are also enhancements for operation of elevators in flood zones.  ASME and IBC reference ASCE24 which has performance-based language that prohibits elevators from descending into floodwaters. One of the ASME working groups in currently developing a proposal to add more prescriptive requirements to the code. Care must be taken to ensure that any new provisions work effectively with the other systems currently in place (such as FEO, OEO and seismic operation).  


In addition, standby or emergency power systems are important safety features, which allow the elevators to be used for evacuation or to fight the fire. Standby power also ensures that the communication systems in the elevators remain operational.


Most new innovations included in the safety code only apply to new elevators being installed and only when the authority having jurisdiction adopts an updated version of the code.  Elevators typically last 25-30 years before they are updated and some may be older than that.  Unless the local authority requires upgrading older elevators to add these new safety features, they may not be present on the elevators in any given building. 

While the innovation of elevator manufacturers and the development of strong safety codes have been tremendously impactful in improving the safety of elevators in emergencies, there is still much that facility managers must do. The building manager should be familiar with the specifications of the building transportation systems and keep in mind the new safety features available when it is time to upgrade the equipment. The manager should develop an emergency plan for the building, including how the elevators might be used in an emergency, and then provide training for building occupants. 


Knowing how to respond in an emergency and how to best keep your tenants safe must be planned in advance. Have you educated your tenants on what they should or should not do in various emergency scenarios, whether caused by an extreme weather event or perhaps an active shooter or act of terrorism? Have you practiced it with your tenants and first responders? Getting occupants safely out of a building in an emergency relies not only on technology, but also careful planning, training and calm leadership.

About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII‘s membership includes the six major international companies – Fujitec America, Inc., KONE, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., Otis Elevator Company, Schindler Elevator Corporation, TK Elevator  and several other companies across the country. Collectively, the NEII members represent approximately eighty percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. 

For more information about NEII, please visit www.neii.org

NEII Partners with Construction Inclusion Week

NATIONAL ELEVATOR INDUSTRY, INC. PARTNERS WITH CONSTRUCTION INCLUSION WEEK


In 2022, as a part of our efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the building transportation industry, NEII has officially partnered with the organizations who created Construction Inclusion Week. The event is October 17-21. 2022. 


The vertical transportation industry is committed to improving diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our workplaces. 

To further share the scope of the elevator and escalator industry's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, below are some valuable resources:


  • Chris Gardner, author of Pursuit of Happyness, and DEI advocate recorded a message for our industry to encourage us to keep working toward improving inclusion. View and download the video message here
  • Construction Inclusion Week has a variety of resources available for every day of the honorary week, including an Execution Guide for planning your participation. You can find the guide here
  • The daily themes for Construction Inclusion Week are as follows:
    • Monday, October 17: Commitment and Accountability
    • Tuesday, October 18: Belonging
    • Wednesday, October 19: Supplier Diversity
    • Thursday, October 20: Workplace Culture
    • Friday, October 21: Community Engagement
  • There are daily webinars to dive deeper into the content.
  • Don't miss a thing by visiting the Construction Inclusion Week website for complete details and to register as a partner if you are interested.


We will be sharing a lot of messaging about inclusion on NEII's social media channels, including photos of the teams from our member companies supporting inclusion during Construction Inclusion Week. Please follow us at Twitter and LinkedIn




About Construction Inclusion Week

Construction Inclusion Week is the first effort to harness the collective power of general contractors, specialty contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. The objective is to build awareness of the need to improve diversity and inclusion in the construction industry by providing content and resources.

We recognize and understand that each of our firms may be at different places in our diversity, equity, and inclusion journeys. The intent is that Construction Inclusion Week fosters conversations that create alignment and take us further on this journey for our people and industry partners. If we genuinely want to attract, retain, and develop the best talent for our industry and maximize the diversity of our suppliers, we must grow our industry’s culture to be truly inclusive.

About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII‘s membership includes the six major international companies – Fujitec America, Inc., KONE, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., Otis Elevator Company, Schindler Elevator Corporation, TK Elevator  and several other companies across the country. Collectively, the NEII members represent approximately eighty percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. 

For more information about NEII, please visit www.neii.org


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Mental Health Awareness Resources

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), construction has one of the highest suicide rates of any industry, with suicide deaths five times greater than all other construction deaths combined. Mental health in the construction industry is an invisible health hazard that the building transportation industry takes very seriously. 


Long hours, physically demanding work and high stress in the industry are among the reasons there are higher suicide rates and mental health concerns in the construction industry.


Resources:

Center for Construction Research and Training Suicide Prevention Resources

Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Suicide Prevention Workplace Tools

OSHA: Preventing Suicides

Podcast: Suicide Prevention Awareness for Construction

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII‘s membership includes the six major international companies – Fujitec America, Inc., KONE, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., Otis Elevator Company, Schindler Elevator Corporation, TK Elevator  and several other companies across the country. Collectively, the NEII members represent approximately eighty percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. 

For more information about NEII, please visit www.neii.org


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Elevators in Emergency Occupant Evacuation

Any regular elevator user in North America is likely to be familiar with a particular sign posted in all elevator

lobbies warning the public not to use elevators in case of a fire. These ubiquitous signs are mandated by the

ASME A17.1/CSA B44 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators, the International Code Council’s

International Building Code used in most of the United States, the National Building Code of Canada, and

through numerous local codes and ordinances. These signs have done their job well—rarely does one see

building occupants jamming the “down” button in elevator lobbies while a fire alarm blares throughout a

building.


The reasons behind prohibiting the use of elevators in a fire were based on historical concerns that have

become modern anachronisms in new buildings. Due to today’s advances in building design and elevator

technology, working elevators don’t become inoperable in fire situations, trapping passengers as the

environment becomes untenable. There isn’t necessarily a serious loss of power to the building or a shutdown

of the elevator system due to intrusion of water into the elevator shafts, capturing passengers engulfed by

smoke or fire.


Ironically, there have been instances that predate our modern building and safety codes in which elevators

have saved countless lives in fatal fire conditions. For example, the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in

Manhattan was New York City’s deadliest industrial fire. One hundred forty-six garment workers died from

fire, smoke inhalation or falling or jumping to their deaths from the 10-story windows. During the disaster,

two elevator operators who could assess the conditions of the conflagration chose to stay at their jobs, making

trips to the eighth and tenth floors to carry an estimated 150 workers to safety —approximately half the

number of survivors.


By mid-century, elevator operators were giving way to automatic operation by elevator passengers, directing

their desired destination but lacking any knowledge of whether an elevator was safe in a fire situation. In the

1970s, a number of fatalities occurred in high-rise building fires where people were trapped in smoke-filled

hoistways or taken to a floor where a fire was active.


The Elevator Safety Code responded to this hazard by introducing Phase I firefighter service as a requirement

for new elevators in the late 1970s. This service automatically returns elevators to a main floor and placed out

of service when smoke is detected in an elevator hoistway, lobby or machine room.


In the 1980s, views on using elevators to evacuate building occupants in emergency

situations began to evolve. As accessibility for persons with disabilities became a social goal

– and eventually a civil right under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 – policy

makers called for changes to provide evacuation for everyone. For persons using wheelchairs

or those with a limited capacity to use exit stairs, elevators are really the only viable option

in emergency circumstances. Still, using elevators to evacuate non-disabled building

occupants in building fires remained an idea outside of the norm.


All of this changed on September 11, 2001 with the attack on the World Trade Center. Nearly 3,000 died as

the Twin Towers collapsed, with desperate office workers leaping to their death from some 90 stories in the

sky. Many have theorized that had the building elevators remained operational as a means to evacuate the

upper stories of the buildings, more lives could have been saved. In fact, in the 18 minutes after the North

Tower was struck, hundreds of workers chose to evacuate the South Tower and reach safety on the ground

floor by using the building’s elevators.


In 2002, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) began to study the evacuation issues

related to the attack in its World Trade Center Disaster Study. Shortly after, the model code groups held a

“Workshop on the Use of Elevators in Fires and Other Emergencies” in March 2004, in Atlanta, Georgia. The

workshop was co-sponsored by American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), National Institute of

Standards and Technology (NIST), International Code Council (ICC), National Fire Protection Association

(NFPA), U.S. Access Board, and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). As a result, the ASME

A17 Elevator Standards Committee established a Task Group on the use of elevators for occupant evacuation.

Within nine years the NFPA and ICC building codes and the ASME A17.1/CSA B44 Elevator Code, in

conjunction with requirements in the fire alarm code, etc. all had new provisions. These permitted extremely

high-rise buildings to use elevator systems to safely remove building occupants from the upper stories of a

building during fire. In fact, the International Building Code has incentives for installing these types of

elevators where a building exceeds 420 feet in height.


Professionals now recognize that properly designed buildings with occupant evacuation elevators can provide

the safest and quickest way to get people to safety in fires and other emergency conditions. These specially

designed buildings protect elevator lobbies, hoistways and machine rooms from the intrusion of fire, smoke

and water. Requirements for compartmentalization, fire-resistive construction, and sprinkler protection make

buildings safer and provide additional safeguards for persons who cannot use exit stairs to evacuate a fire

floor or building. With extremely high-rise construction in particular, using elevators versus the exit stairs can

shave hours off of the time it takes for building occupants to move from close proximity to a fire to the safety

of the outdoors.


Just as elevator technology has come a long way since the “Do Not Ride” days, standard fire safety

precautions have as well. Most high-rise buildings now have codes that require designated floor wardens and

searchers to assist in the efficient evacuation of fellow occupants. Monthly fire drills and equipment checks

are also commonplace.


As the Chicago condominium fire fatality just two short years ago reminds us, we still have work to do.

However, once the technology, building codes, and education all fall into place, the public will start noticing a

new crop of signs popping up in the lobbies of high-rise and extremely high-rise buildings. “In case of fire,

elevators are out of service” will slowly be replaced by “Elevators are available for evacuation.”



Originally published in the NEII Insider, March 17, 2015

About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII‘s membership includes the six major international companies – Fujitec America, Inc., KONE, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., Otis Elevator Company, Schindler Elevator Corporation, TK Elevator  and several other companies across the country. Collectively, the NEII members represent approximately eighty percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. 

For more information about NEII, please visit www.neii.org


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