Elevator safety: Rising high and falling low

Elevator safety: Rising high and falling low

Lift at Sky walk in Mysuru Road, opp Gopalan Mall, Bengaluru. Photo by S K Dinesh

Growing cities cannot still afford to give up their open spaces although the compromise is very often criticised for leaning heavily in favour of spreading the concrete cover rather than green. Naturally, this leads to land price hike, high population concentration and a struggle to retain green cover. All of these have led to a rise in high-rise buildings, and by implication, elevators.

Increase in building height necessitates innovative technologies to ensure optimal use of space and user convenience. Safety being the top priority, considerable effort is required to choose the right technology for elevators.

Interactions by DH at many apartments showed this emphasis on safety: This clearly came through at Sanathana Chamanthi, Seegehalli, near Kadugodi, at Krishna Prakash apartments of Aicoboonagar, at Nandi Enclave of Banashankari 3rd stage, and at VVR Supreme Residency of Uttarahalli. Apartment association members were all fully aware of the critical link between safety and good maintenance of elevations. Some of them had separate committees or even external managers for the job.

Many also prefer to go for an annual maintenance contract (AMC) with the company that instals the elevator in the apartment. Shilpa T, an MNC employee residing in Seegehalli informs that her complex with four apartments is fitted with Aero-LIFT elevators. “The Aero-LIFT company itself has been handed the responsibility of maintaining the elevators,” she says.

But not all apartments score high on lift safety. Kishor Kumar P, secretary of the Bank Officers’ Cooperative Housing Society, Aicoboonagar, draws attention to flat owners who opt for smaller, local, and possibly lower quality companies for elevator maintenance. “Most of them naturally do it to economise on the construction cost, even if the elevators had been initially installed by a much better known and higher quality company,” he elaborates.

A representative of a leading elevator manufacturer in the country concurs: “An AMC with the supplying company can be considered ideal but sometimes, builders go for cheaper options. The maintenance work is handed over to smaller, local companies,” he says.

“There are many safety parameters that need to be met during installation and maintenance of elevators. While no company in Bengaluru forgoes such parameters, we cannot say so for certain when it comes to maintenance by local brands. They might bypass some of these parameters to do the job at a lesser expenditure,” explains the representative. “There is every chance that this would prove dangerous.”

Use of the right kind of cables and switches is necessary, depending upon the elevator of the building, says the representative. “One can still see smaller companies using slightly lower quality cables but the front-runners in installation of elevators always insist on using armoured cables,” he explains.

A few apartments go beyond the mandated rules to doubly secure lift safety. For instance, additional safety measures were taken at Krishna Prakash apartments, where the elevators were provided alarms and cameras, informs Kishor Kumar.
Karthik, who works at Rockline Centre, Trinity Circle, recalls how the elevators were shut down during floods to prevent damage and electrical mishaps.

Builders and management also need to ensure the elevators are user-friendly for all users. Shilpa recalls that the elevators at her apartment in Seegehalli had got stuck in between floors. “The sensors did not work for some time and we were forced to change the elevator usage plan. Housekeeping work too sometimes affects the working of the elevators as daily waste is piled up near the lift entrance,” she adds.

Senior citizens and the physically challenged have to struggle to use elevators that are poorly installed or do not meet certain requirements. While the door of an elevator has to be more than 700 mm wide to fit in a wheelchair, many builders are seen compromising on the width due to space shortage.

When an elevator gives room only to stand, use of such an elevator proves a problem to the physically challenged, even if they are not wheelchair-bound.

But there are others who hesitate getting into a lift out of fear of a fall or a bit of nausea as the lift ‘takes off’. Fitness freak Shankar gives another perspective, “A lift is the comparatively more preferred means of transport as against the ‘safer’ and ‘healthier’ stairs. This is so even for many who are fit enough to walk up a couple of floors.”