When we talk with organized elevator apprentices and mechanics, a topic that comes up again and again is how the education they receive through the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) – and the culture of safety the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) works to instill throughout the trade – helps them come into the elevator industry with the skills and knowledge they need to keep themselves and their jobsites safe.


Whether someone is coming in to the IUEC as an organized apprentice or through the recruitment process completely new to the trade, the IUEC apprenticeship begins with a safety-focused curriculum centered around recognizing trade-related hazards. From the industry-specific OSHA curriculum that recently launched; to classroom lab activities where apprentices practice putting on required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as eye protection, hearing protection, respiratory protection, and fall protection; to the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver First Aid and CPR certification program embedded in the required curriculum, they receive a very different and much more thorough education than they did while working for non-union companies.

So with a trade that advances as quickly as this one, how does the IUEC stay on top of industry trends and emerging technologies that could impact the safety of apprentices and mechanics on the job? One way is through the establishment of the IUEC Safety Committee.

“The IUEC Safety Committee is a committee set up by President Christensen going back about ten years ago,” said Mike Langer, Director of Safety for the IUEC. “It takes people from across North America and puts them together in a room for brainstorming sessions on how to reduce fatalities and injuries in the elevator industry or the conveyance industry.”

Mike has been a longtime member of the IUEC Safety Committee, which is chaired by Ed Christensen, IUEC Regional Director for the Midcentral United States. Other Safety Committee members include Eric McClaskey, IUEC Assistant Director of Safety; Dave Griefenhagen, IUEC Director of Codes and Standards; Pat McGarvey, IUEC Director of Organizing; Blair MacMillan, IUEC National Organizer and Canadian Safety Director; and Ben McIntyre, IUEC National Organizer and Canadian Safety Director – along with active and retired elevator inspectors and building inspectors from across the United States and Canada. Altogether, the committee has approximately 22 members.

Eric McClaskey told us that the overall purpose of the IUEC Safety Committee is to improve safety for everyone working in the trade. This begins with research. “We look at incidents that occur throughout the course of a year or half-year when we meet annually,” he said. “We try to focus on ways in which we can better the industry through code development and other safety enhancements. It’s really an opportunity for us throughout North America to get with one another, and talk about what we see on the job and how we can prevent injuries and fatalities.”

One of the most important sources of information the Safety Committee draws on for its work is the database of incident reports put together by the IUEC Safety Department. Any time there is a close call, injury, fatality, or accident in the trade, it is investigated and an incident summary is produced. These incident summaries are then reviewed and discussed so that the IUEC Safety Committee can make recommendations based on what was learned from the accident. The reports are shared with IUEC Locals and affiliated signatory employers, and posted on the safety page of the union’s website at iuec.org. “The bottom line is, we want to do our best to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” says Mike Langer.

Eric McClaskey encouraged everyone concerned about safety in the elevator industry to visit the IUEC’s website and view these reports. “On the IUEC safety page, we have an alerts tab that you can click on – it’s open to anyone,” he said. “It’s a resource for local unions, our employers, and the public at large. We house those incident summaries and (information about) close calls, near misses, and injuries on our website so that hopefully the industry can learn from these events that have taken place.”

Mike Langer emphasized the importance of making this information and research public. “Anybody can go to that open website and gather safety information right down to OSHA training from the safety page. It can be anybody in the conveyance industry, whether they’re union or not. That’s really what it’s all about – protecting everybody who’s doing the same work we do.”

Eric McClaskey continued, “(Elevators and escalators are) the most common form of transportation that the public operates on their own, so it’s important for us to make sure that these conveyances are installed and maintained properly. For us as a committee, we focus on items that may affect the end-user, and what we can do to help make sure the public has a safe conveyance to get from place to place.”

To learn more about the work the IUEC is doing to reduce injuries and fatalities in the conveyance industry, visit https://www.elevatorinfo.org/be-safe-improving-safety-elevator-industry/.

IUEC mechanic Curt Morlock

Retired IUEC elevator constructor and United States Marine Veteran Curt Morlock is always looking for his next adventure. He credits his fulfilling retirement – specifically, being able to pursue his dream of racing solo around the world – to the lifetime guaranteed pension he received as part of his IUEC benefits package.

Born and raised in the Sunshine State, Curt Morlock has always loved the water.

“I grew up in South Florida – Hollywood and then Miami Beach,” said Morlock. “My father, who worked as a fireman, taught me everything there is to know about the beach. I was snorkeling by age six. Fishing, sailing, surfing – we really did it all.”

After his retirement from the elevator industry in January of 2023, he signed up for the Global Solo Challenge (GSC), a solo, nonstop, round-the-world sailboat race. 65-year-old Morlock is one of just five Americans currently on the GSC roster.

“This race will be the challenge of a lifetime. Only three American sailors have successfully gone around the world solo, unassisted, and nonstop,” said Morlock. “This has always been a dream of mine. To me, sailboats are like a giant surfboard. I fell in love with sailing as a young man, and as far as the race goes, I knew it was now or never.”

When we spoke with Morlock about the race, he used the phrase “now or never” several times. Having recently been diagnosed with cancer, Morlock’s friends and family, including his children Steele and Kevyn, have supported him and his racing ambitions since day one. Even his doctor has urged him to go on this journey.

“This wasn’t just some goal to accomplish or check off a list – it was a dream. I knew I had to go for it,” said Morlock. “At about the same time that I retired, I was out shopping for a boat. The race boat I ended up purchasing was about $170,000. The costs are significant – there’s a lot that goes into this that people don’t really realize.”

After completing his military service as a US Marine, Morlock worked for more than two decades as a union elevator constructor in Florida, Nevada, and Colorado.

“The union, the International Union of Elevator Constructors – it’s amazing what a career within the organized elevator industry can do for one’s life. It’s transformational,” said Morlock. “Good wages. Good benefits. And it’s even more than that. It’s about honoring your family, as well as your country. The union gave me the opportunity to do what I want – I worked hard, and now I can pursue my passions.”

Morlock talked about being a part of several noteworthy jobs over the course of his career. His work in the elevator trade, especially when he worked on the conveyance equipment at Denver International Airport, was a great post-military career path. “When I served in the Marines, I worked on A-6s. Working at the airport – it was like a giant aircraft carrier. I felt right at home,” said Morlock. “In the military and in the IUEC – we made it work by working together as a team. That’s what makes the union so great – the camaraderie and the strong sense of togetherness.”

With plans to launch on December 9, 2023, Morlock’s goal is to complete the solo, nonstop race around the world in 120 days. His 60-foot sailboat, named the 6 Lazy K, has an 85-foot mast and a 14.5-foot keel.

When asked what is required for an individual to complete such an impressive mission, Morlock responded, “Character, ability, and discipline – all things the union has given to me.”

When Morlock mentioned that wave heights regularly exceed 30 feet in the Southern Ocean, we asked if he was nervous about his upcoming voyage.

“I don’t know what that is – I truly don’t know what it is to be nervous,” he laughed. “Just like in the elevator industry, this race will be go, go, go. Thankfully, I’ve always been a physical guy. However, at the end of the day, it’s all about safety. That’s my priority – doing it right.”

To learn more about the advantages of becoming an IUEC elevator constructor, including the robust retirement plan available through IUEC’s Pension, Annuity, and 401K benefits, contact ElevatorInfo.