ADA Compliance for Elevator Professionals

In the elevator industry, compliance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is vital to ensure that every member of the riding public has the opportunity and access to use elevators. The ADA is a comprehensive act that offers all-encompassing guidelines on how elevators must be installed and maintained, from specific height requirements and placements of buttons and handrails to elevator cab dimension requirements and braille and sound indicators.

Let’s talk about ADA regulations in the elevator industry and find out why ADA compliance is important, and why accessibility and inclusivity are vital for people to live their lives on their terms.

Understanding Code and Safety

ADA compliance may not seem like an issue that is relevant to everyone, but to make elevators universally accessible regardless of one’s physical limitations, the importance of code and safety cannot be understated. Many aspects of the functionality of an elevator may go under the radar of the riding public.

For instance, did you know that every time you’re in an elevator and it dings, it is signaling that it has traveled another floor? This may seem like an arbitrary feature, but for people with difficulty seeing or other physical constraints, such an indication is necessary for the correct use of an elevator – as it may be the only way that person can know where the elevator is and how far it’s traveled. Regulations like those outlined in the ADA and enforced by local, regional, and national codes ensure each person, regardless of physical ability, has the opportunity to access and use elevators.

The Importance of ADA Compliance

ADA compliance ensures elevators are safe, available, and accessible for all people who need to use them. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is responsible for setting many of the codes and standards used by the elevator industry. ASME’s adoption of ADA regulations bridges the gap between the elevator code and broader accessibility requirements, illustrating the industry’s commitment to inclusivity by implementing standards that mirror those set out by the relevant experts.

ADA Requirements

ADA requirements for the elevator industry cover a wide range of topics and specifications, from the floorplan and placement of assistance rails inside of the car to the wall fixtures. The ASME standards that cover ADA compliance in relation to the elevator industry are A17.1 and A117.1.

It’s important that elevator professionals, manufacturers, and building managers adhere to ADA requirements while working, and with the clear standards laid out by the ADA and echoed by ASME, compliance should be a given.

ADA requirements ensure that any person with a physical disability can independently get to, enter, and use a site, facility, building, or event. Such disabilities may include difficulty walking, blindness and visual impairment, or deafness and hearing impairment. These requirements include communication enhancements such as accessible two-way communication for the hearing or visually impaired, as well as braille on doors, hall call buttons, and emergency buttons to further amplify accessibility.

Handrail Heights and Placement

ADA compliance begins with the basics, and one fundamental element is the handrail. Handrails are there to assist individuals with balance issues. The ADA ensures height and placement consistency of handrails in elevators and throughout the entire building. This uniformity is key because the act of grabbing and holding onto handrails is one based on muscle memory. In some cases, handrails may need to be opposite the operating panel, ensuring accessibility for all passengers.

Position Indicators and Call Buttons

The height of position indicators is important because people with disabilities are required to rely on their muscle memory more than the average person. Position indicators must be mounted a designated number of inches above the floor. Hall indicators must light up, and must meet dimension requirements. The arrows on the hall indicators must be visible from the floor area adjacent to the call buttons.

Hall call buttons are just as vital as position indicators, and also need to follow ADA guidelines. They must be centered at a specific distance above floor level, and meet the code requirements for a minimum diameter. They must light up when activated (pressed). Code also requires visual and audible signals at each entrance to indicate which car is answering a call, as well as the direction in which the car is traveling. Visual signals inside the elevator car must be visible from the floor area adjacent to the hall call button.

Braille Characters

The use of braille characters is also required for ADA compliance in elevators. Advancements in technology within the industry in recent years mean our industry has come a long way from the days when an attendant would announce aloud the destination and direction of the elevator.

Nowadays, code requires that floor designations be marked with raised characters and braille. These raised characters must be located on the entrance jambs of the elevator, with a raised star shape used on both door jambs to indicate the main entry level. This enables visually impaired members of the public to verify that the floor they’ve landed on matches their desired selection.

Elevator Car Floorplan & Other Features

Finally, the interior of elevator cars must comply with ADA standards to ensure the overall accessibility of the elevator. For full compliance, code specifies both the depth and width of an elevator car. Requirements for clear floor area and door width are also dictated by code.

Where provided, car keypads must be marked with visual characters and arranged in the same order as a standard telephone keypad with the number five (marked with a single raised dot) in the center. This dot, referred to as a node, must be of a specified base diameter and height. This allows people with visual impairments to identify the placement and layout of the keypad.

Final Words on ADA Compliance

In the elevator industry, adherence to ADA compliance is not just about meeting standards; it’s about fostering an environment where technology serves everyone equally and ensuring that each and every member of the general public can enjoy the use of elevators.

For our latest installment of a series of independent signatory elevator company profiles, the ElevatorInfo media team met up with Lou James, a managing partner and co-owner of Evolution Elevator, and his wife Carla James, the company’s primary owner. Working together to manage the company as a family business along with brother Chris, sister-in-law Rosemarie, and brother Thomas, Lou says that being an independent family business has made for stronger connections and better communication within the company as well as with customers.

Evolution Elevator Company installs, repairs, services, and maintains conveyances in some of the biggest and busiest metropolitan areas in the United States –New York / New Jersey (Local 1) and Miami/ South Florida (Local 71). From repairing and modernizing aging, outmoded equipment to installing, servicing, and performing important preventive maintenance on the latest elevator and escalator system technology, Evolution covers it all.

“We service everything. Escalators, moving walks, elevators, dumbwaiters, handicap lifts, you know, soup to nuts. If it’s in vertical transportation, we take care of it,” said Lou.

He continued, “We have a lot of retail customers so we’re trying to get all of our big repairs done, get the elevator equipment, escalator equipment in tip-top shape – That means clean downs. We have a rope job going on, we’re wrapping up a few mods and construction jobs – (at) PortMiami, we’re wrapping up a couple of really big repairs. So not just in the New York area, New Jersey area, but in Florida, just trying to really get all of our repairs done.”

Mike Elia, an IUEC elevator mechanic who serves as the company’s Vice President and Project Manager, said “At Evolution, we have a lot of pride in the quality of work that we do and knowing that our equipment’s some of the best maintained in the city, just really getting in there and making sure everything’s clean, everything’s adjusted properly, that there’s no issues that we could find, and that we’re really providing the riding public with safest elevators and escalators that we can.”

Co-owner and Foreman Thomas James spoke to us at his jobsite in @PortMiami, a major hub for cruise ships and cargo vessels.

“I’m mostly at the port of Miami because we have the cruise ships that go through there – and there’s thousands of passengers coming in and off the ships in one day – so it’s important for us to be there on standby. It’s a lot of traffic on the units, so we’re constantly going there to maintain and make sure that everything’s running smooth.”

Communicating well and working together is at the heart of the company. Lou told us that at Evolution, they don’t separate the management side of the company from the work they do in the field. As an IUEC member who brought with him his career-long experience as an IUEC elevator mechanic, Lou regularly jumps in to work on equipment when necessary. He’s even still in the rotation for taking late-night trouble calls and freeing people from entrapments.

Company owner Carla James emphasized that the safety-focused education and training Evolution Elevator’s mechanics and apprentices receive through the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) is key to ensuring they do quality work and get the job done with safety in the forefront of their mind. “We are a union strong company, so all of our mechanics do complete a course of apprenticeship over four years, and they do have to pass the mechanics test, so that guarantees the job getting done and safely.”

One of the people we talked with at the company’s Staten Island warehouse and office was Mario Baladi, the company’s Foreman for Construction and Modernization. He told us about the projects they were currently working on in New York. “This week we worked on a lot of projects. I worked on an old Otis machine, overhead traction, putting in a new door operator, changing the cables, changing the car station, wiring. We’re gonna do an acceptance test on a hydraulic elevator. It’s a modernization that we recently did and finished. Every day is a new thing.”

Mario started out in the elevator trade as a non-union mechanic, and told us one of the biggest differences between his prior experience and becoming an IUEC mechanic was the IUEC’s focus on making safety a priority.

“In my non -union days, basically safety wasn’t the first order. Getting the job done was the first order – no matter how it gets done. done, just get it done, I don’t care if you go home – they didn’t care. Now it’s a whole different level.” he said.

“Safety is our priority,” said Carla. “We have safety meetings once a month where we go over safety protocols and touch upon any type of incidents to avoid any injuries.” (The ElevatorInfo staff had an opportunity to sit in on one of their safety meetings – be sure to watch the video to see some highlights!)

Lou believes communication between all members of his team is also key to always working safe. “Communication’s at the forefront, you know, that means safety, but (if) we see anything egregious, our new jobs, jobs we have, doesn’t matter who the previous provider was, union or non-union, we don’t take safety for granted,” he said.

He continued, “We have a number of procedures that we follow. We communicate with each other – not just the office talking to the techs, but the techs talking back to the office, the techs talking to each other. That’s really, really important because this is going to be the difference between possible injury to us or the riding public, or getting ahead and finding something that could have led to that.”

When asked about how being an IUEC signatory company is a benefit to his family’s business, he responded, “One of the biggest benefits of being in a signatory company – probably the biggest, I would say, is the members. Really, it’s the backbone. It’s the dedication that the techs have to their craft, to each other, to safety, that you couldn’t possibly in any other aspect compare with anyone that isn’t a member of the team.”

To learn more about the advantages of becoming IUEC-affiliated or about hiring an IUEC-affiliated elevator company like Evolution Elevator to install, service, troubleshoot, modernize, repair, or inspect your elevators, escalators, or other conveyance equipment, contact ElevatorInfo.

Hiring elevator contractors

Whether you’re a private building owner or manager of a commercial or residential building, choosing the right contractor is vital. Understanding what is involved in this process is important.

Guaranteeing a smooth, safe ride for members of the public is paramount for anyone who is responsible for elevators. The way to guarantee this is by having highly trained and experienced professionals conduct the repair and maintenance work on the conveyance systems in your building. Companies affiliated with the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) partner with building owners and managers across North America to provide them with the safest, most well-trained professionals in the elevator industry.

Before we speak about the specifics that make IUEC-trained and educated apprentices and mechanics the best in the business, it’s important to understand how the process of choosing a contractor works.

Factors to Consider When Hiring an Elevator Contractor

When the time comes to hire an elevator contractor, there are several factors that must be considered. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are some of the key points.

Equipment Age and Type

First, what kind of conveyances are in your building? Elevators? Escalators? Dumbwaiters? Moving walks? Be sure the company you hire to maintain, repair, and inspect your equipment has mechanics who are trained and qualified to work on your equipment.

Next, what type of building do you own, and who are the people who will be using these conveyances? Is it a busy office building where dozens or hundreds of workers will need to get to their offices quickly every morning? Is it an industrial building where warehouse staff will be using freight elevators to transport heavy or large machinery or goods? Is it a high-rise residential building where people must rely on an elevator to get into or out of their homes? You want to ensure you’re hiring a reputable OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer, such as Schindler, Otis, Fujitech, Mitsubishi, Kone, or TK Elevator) or independent elevator company that doesn’t take shortcuts when it comes to passenger safety.

As you can imagine, how long an elevator has been in use will play a role in determining the contractor you hire. Qualified contractors will have the experience and education needed to assess your system and help you make decisions regarding setting up a regular maintenance schedule / maintenance control program to keep your equipment running smoothly and determine when it’s time to replace outdated elevators in the interest of safety.

Service Contracts and Maintenance Control Programs

Different contractors offer different service contract options. These could be monthly maintenance agreements or comprehensive packages that will include scheduled inspections and maintenance, as well as other services. You will need to align your choice with your building’s needs and the needs of the riding public.

Your service contract should include a Maintenance Control Program (MCP). An MCP ensures that all components of your conveyance equipment are checked on a regular basis. With an MCP, your elevator contractor will maintain all documentation involving faulty equipment, repairs, and service calls on-site at your facility – where it is available to elevator inspectors and to you as the building owner/manager.

The Role of Elevator Consultants

In some cases, consultants are hired by building managers or owners to advise them on the contractor selection process. Their primary function is to share advice based on a building’s needs. Their expertise lies in their understanding of elevator systems and their knowledge of equipment, safety, and maintenance protocols. Like other professionals in the elevator industry, consultants must be aware of and adhere to codes and regulations set by local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs).

If you choose to work with an elevator consultant, make sure you let them know you want to work with an IUEC-affiliated company.

Safety, Education, and Training

Members of the IUEC receive the most comprehensive training and education in the industry. The National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) apprenticeship includes more than 8,000 hours on-the-job experience under the guidance of a qualified mechanic, as well as eight semesters of hands-on, safety-focused classroom and virtual training.

The training and education doesn’t stop as soon as an apprentice becomes a qualified mechanic – NEIEP also offers continuing education courses to mechanics throughout their careers. This means that customers can rest easy knowing that IUEC-signatory contractors are highly educated, whether they are fresh out of their apprenticeship or have been qualified for decades.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the IUEC prioritizes safety above all else. That includes the safety of its workers as well as the safety of the riding public. This dedication to safety has resulted in IUEC elevator constructors being the most reliable choice for any installation, maintenance, or repair job.

In conclusion, hiring an elevator contractor can be a critical decision for building owners and managers. It will directly impact the safety, efficiency, and longevity of the elevator system, as well as the safety of the traveling public. Following these guidelines will give you the confidence you need to make the right choice. If you are looking for a recommendation, choosing IUEC-affiliated contractors is the best way to go if you want professionals who work in an effective, efficient, and safe manner at all times.

For 13 years, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) has been bringing together women who work in the building trades through the Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference – now recognized as “the largest gathering of tradeswomen in the world”.

According to a recent news release from the International Union of Elevator Constructors’ Elevator Constructor Journal, over 100 sisters from the U.S. and Canada, along with allies in the trade, traveled to the United States capitol to represent the IUEC at the Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference. They were joined by General President Frank Christensen, Assistant General President (ret.) Jim Bender, General Secretary-Treasurer Larry McGann, and newly appointed Assistant General President Jim Chapman.

“I’ve been attending this conference since 2010, when it was named Women Build California,” said Carisa Barrett, National Coordinator for the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund (EIWPF). “That year, there were three other women elevator constructors in attendance – two were retired, and one was working in the field. In 2011, the year it became a national conference, IUEC president Frank Christensen appointed me to the NABTU Tradeswomen Committee. I am proud to be a part of the committee that puts this conference on each year – and I’m proud to say that the elevator constructors’ attendance breaks records every single year.”

She continued, “what started with just a few women elevator constructors has increased to over 100, along with men from the elevator trade who support us. IUEC leadership, EIWPF, NEIEP, Local Business Managers, and field brothers were all representing the IUEC this year. I’ve worked hard to get the information out to as many sisters as I can find, and to encourage each IUEC local to support their women who attend. I couldn’t be more proud of our leadership who support us and the women who are in our trade – they are some of the smartest, hardest-working women I’ve ever met. It takes a lot of courage and strength for women to make it in this industry, and we’ve got some of the best.”

This year’s conference featured presentations from some of North America’s most prominent labor leaders. Keynote speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House Speaker Emerita and a longtime supporter of working people and the union building trades, brought the crowd to a standing ovation during her keynote speech as she exclaimed, “We don’t agonize – we organize, we unionize!”

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, who has been a part of the conference since its inception, described how its reach has grown exponentially through the years. “I was reflecting back and I have been a part of this event, like many of you, since it was in a small conference room at a hotel in California. And we didn’t have a parade route. We didn’t need a megaphone because we could just talk to each other in that room. We dreamed about filling a ballroom like this,” she said. “We have increased our numbers and our power, and what a testament that is to every single one of you who went back home from one of those conferences and brought someone else with you.”

NABTU President Sean McGarvey was also a featured speaker. “You are trailblazers and role models, and reflect what we honor and love about our unions,” he began, before going on to speak about new infrastructure developments in the union construction industry that will have a positive impact on women in the building trades.

McGarvey also talked about NABTU’s Tradeswomen Heroes program, which recognizes outstanding workers with strong leadership skills across the building trades. Since 2020, this award has highlighted the professionalism of many IUEC elevator constructors, including Carisa Barrett (Local 19 / EIWPF National Coordinator), Erin Hansen (Local 25), Aimee Paquette (Local 9 / NEIEP Area Coordinator), Yvonne White (Local 25), Bethany Wilson (Local 44), Blanca Rios (Local 133 / NEIEP Area Coordinator), Katy Grace Roper (Local 37), Lindsay Labrosse (Local 19), Nicole Wiet (Local 82), Tiffaney King (Local 140), and Ciara Mackrell (Local 1).

“I was really inspired by Sean McGarvey and the work that he’s done to bring the building and trades and the tradeswomen together, utilizing the resources that he has to build our infrastructure and to give opportunities to all,” said IUEC Assistant General President Jim Chapman.

In addition to the speakers, the conference also provided opportunities for networking and connection between women in the building trades and allies who support them, and hosted workshops on important issues including mentoring, federal policies, jobsite safety, childcare, improving communication on the jobsite, and financial management.

“So many things happen at this conference. For the newcomers, it’s a sense of empowerment and sisterhood and belonging that they get, when maybe it’s the first time they’ve ever met another woman in the trade – or they get built up by the different keynote speakers. Maybe they make friends with mentors, or lifetime co-workers across the nation, and/or other countries, that they can connect with when they’re working out there and need a good support system, said Kristi Savala, a National Coordinator for EIWPF.

Sarah Caughey, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP), shared a similar point of view. “This gives them the opportunity to see that there’s a whole lot of women out there that are in the trades and there’s a sisterhood, and I think this is a great opportunity for everyone to come together and realize that and feel stronger than they would otherwise on the jobsite,” she said.

Recently retired IUEC Assistant General President Jim Bender emphasized how the networking opportunities the conference provides are an important part of getting the word out to women that there are opportunities for rewarding careers in the union building trades. “It’s a great income, great benefits. It’s just a great living in the building trades. (They) pay well, you have a union representation – those are the most important things I think for them to get that message out to other women.” This is especially true in the union elevator trade, where the IUEC benefits plans in the United States and Canada are among the most comprehensive in North America.

It wasn’t just IUEC sisters from the U.S. who attended; IUEC members from Canadian Locals traveled across the border to the conference in Washington, D.C., as well. IUEC Local 50, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada was represented by several sisters. “We both work for Local 50 and we actually work together,” said Cindy-Sue Beauregard, who spoke to ElevatorInfo along with fellow IUEC Local 50 sister Tamara Fernandez. “We’re the first all-female new construction team.”

Helmets to Hardhats, a nonprofit organization that helps military Veterans transition to careers in the building trades, hosted an information booth at the conference to connect with women who could benefit from the services H2H provides. “We recruit service members and in the military there’s a lot of females specific to this event,” said Martin Helms, the organization’s Executive Director. “There are great candidates, we need women involved in the trades and this is a great source to let them know that we’re a program that’s out there.”

“All three of the general officers of the IUEC are at this conference this year which is a real affirmation of the importance of this issue, the importance of women, the importance of diversity, the importance of lifting everybody up who is a member of the IUEC and a future member of the IUEC,” said Jennifer Simon, an attorney with O’Donoghue & O’Donoghue who has for years provided legal counsel for the IUEC and related entities. “The leadership of this organization I believe has moved the IUEC forward in so many ways already, and recognizes that there is so much important work to still do.”

“We have women coming in, they’re going to be instructors, they’re going to be presidents, they’re going to be directors,” said NEIEP Area Coordinator Aimee Paquette, a member of IUEC Local 9 with 26 years’ experience in the elevator trade. “17 years ago when I started teaching, I thought I was going to be the only one forever. So we’ve come a long way.”

Home elevators accidents prevention

Installing a home elevator can increase both accessibility and convenience in a home. Home elevators can provide much-needed help for people with mobility issues as they ascend and descend stairs throughout the day. At the same time, however, home elevators can pose risks, especially when homeowners don’t take steps to educate themselves and their household members on ways to avoid home elevator accidents.

Let’s take a look at a few of these preventative methods, mention some incidents that have occurred in recent years, and equip homeowners with ways to prevent home elevator accidents.

Risks Posed by Home Elevators

Home elevators can introduce a host of potential elevator-related incidents and injuries, particularly for children. Think of home elevators like a swimming pool – kids shouldn’t be left alone in them, they shouldn’t be used during a storm, and they can be dangerous for people who aren’t being careful when they use them.

In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile accidents involving home elevators, some of which have been fatal, and one of which left a child dead in North Carolina.

One major danger of home elevators is the space between the elevator car and the hoistway door. Some home elevator fatalities have been caused by children getting crushed in this space, which can be as large as four inches. While safety code requirements brought this down from the five-inch limit that was required before 2016, four inches can still be more than enough space to entrap a child. There are continued, widespread calls to limit this spacing even further in the hopes of preventing more tragedies moving forward.

Another factor to consider is the fact that home elevators are usually designed to mimic the finishings of a home. If home elevator doors are designed to look like closet doors, there is potential for the locking mechanism to be manipulated by someone who may be looking for something else, or for the door to be opened by someone who doesn’t know what they’re getting themselves into. Children could also interact with this mechanism, allowing the elevator to run with the door open – and leading to potentially serious consequences. Doors are an integral safety feature of elevators, and improving regulations will result in safer home elevators.

Another danger of home elevators is that they lack some of the safety features required for commercial elevators. Many home elevators do not have key-access buttons, which essentially means that anyone can operate the elevator. As you can imagine, this causes major concern. Understanding the associated dangers of home elevators and ensuring regular inspection are vital components to home elevator safety.

Home elevators also need to be held to a higher standard when it comes to inspection, as the requirements for home elevator inspection are not subject to the same national safety standards as public elevators.

There have been strong efforts in recent years to improve the safety of home elevators. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has developed safety standards for home elevators, and some states and local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) require home elevators to meet these standards. The International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) is working to promote additional safety standards and inspections to protect people who use these conveyance systems.

How to Prevent Home Elevator Accidents

While home elevators do pose risks, there are measures that homeowners can take to prevent such accidents. Being aware of the potential risks mentioned above is paramount, but there are additional steps that homeowners may follow to maximize safety:

  1. Never allow children to operate the elevator unsupervised. Look to install a keyed access system on the outside and inside of your home elevator as soon as possible. This will prevent children from being able to access or operate the elevator by themselves.
  2. Ensure a two-way communication system is available inside your home elevator so that if someone becomes trapped, they can quickly call for help.
  3. Make sure the elevator is inspected by an elevator company regularly, ensuring it’s in good working order and that there are no safety hazards.
  4. Consider contacting your local or state representative, commissioner, or AHJ and speaking to them about supporting legislation that would require home elevators to meet the same national safety standards as public elevators. When enough people bring these issues to the attention of their representatives, changes are often made.

Most AHJs do not require home elevators to be periodically tested and inspected as recommended by ASME – an American national standard – so homeowners with residential elevators installed on their property must be extra vigilant regarding potential hazards.

Elevator maintenance control programs MCP

If you are the owner or manager of a multi-story building, you know about the importance of regular elevator maintenance and inspection, which is designed to keep your elevator and escalator equipment running safely and reliably. Every day, the people who live, work, attend appointments, or access services in your building rely on your building’s vertical transportation systems to get them to their destinations.

While some situations – such as a flood or power outage in your building – can cause your conveyance equipment to stop working unexpectedly, most failures of elevator and escalator systems are preventable. That’s why it’s critical that you have a plan in place for elevator technicians to regularly inspect and maintain your building’s elevators, escalators, and other conveyance equipment – so you can address problems before interruptions in service occur.

What is a Maintenance Control Program?

A Maintenance Control Program (MCP) is exactly what it sounds like: a plan to ensure that an elevator, escalator, or other conveyance equipment is maintained correctly throughout its life. It contains specific written information that indicates what maintenance should be performed, how that maintenance should be performed, when it should be performed, and how often it should be performed.

Elevator inspector and elevator industry expert John W. Koshak (QEC, CEI), describes it as follows:

An MCP (Maintenance Control Program) must provide a list of necessary work items to be performed, a place to record the completed work, and the records of completion made available to persons trained in the construction, maintenance, repair, inspection, or testing of vertical transportation equipment, which includes AHJs/RAs – Inspectors. It requires the maintenance company’s elevator personnel to do something – for example examine, test, clean, lubricate, and adjust applicable components listed in the code. The applicable components are a code-defined list of components that historically have caused hazards when they fail to perform their safety function when demanded, typically due to lack of maintenance. It also specifies that any special procedures, defined by the maintenance company or manufacturer, to also be provided in the MCP.

Most Authorities Having Jurisdictions (AHJs) have adopted the 2000 or later editions of the ASME A17.1/CSA B44 elevator code, which require an MCP for all conveyance equipment including elevators, escalators, and moving walks (check the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund’s website or with your local authority having jurisdiction, your elevator inspector, or your elevator maintenance company to find out which version of the code your area has adopted). Whether or not the AHJ making the rules for your area has adopted a version of the code that requires an MCP be in place for your building, if you don’t want your elevator or escalator equipment to fail due to something preventable, you should adopt one.

Section 8.6.1.2.1 of the (post-2000 versions of) ASME A17.1/CSA B44 code requires all MCPs to include a plan for examining, testing, cleaning, lubricating, and adjusting applicable conveyance system components at regular intervals.

Elevator Maintenance Control Programs must be written in compliance with the manufacturer’s specifications and the requirements of ASME A17.1/CSA B44 Section 8.6. They can be very specific to an elevator, escalator, or moving walk’s intended use.

Koshak shared with us the following points:

ASME A17.1/CSA B44 Section 8.6 requires:

  • Elevator personnel must be trained.
  • Every unit must have an elevator Maintenance Control Program (MCP).
  • Metrics must be used in determining the intervals between maintenance tasks.
  • A schedule of elevator maintenance must be provided.
  • Procedures for elevator maintenance tasks must be provided.
  • Records of all elevator maintenance, repairs, replacements, alterations, callbacks, oil logs, Firefighters’ Emergency Operation testing and others must be made.
  • Records must be available for a minimum of five years.

What type of equipment is covered?

For (electric) traction elevators – the kind that are suspended by ropes, belts, or other suspension means – an MCP would typically cover:

  • Pit equipment, including (but not limited to) stop buttons, final limit switches, counterweights, governor ropes, governor sheaves, GFCIs, sump pumps, lighting, ladders, and buffers;
  • Hoistway equipment, including (but not limited to) lighting, directional limit switches, final limit switches, door locks, door operation, leveling controls, overhead clearance, car and counterweight roller guides, rails and brackets, ventilation, and smoke detectors;
  • Machine room equipment, including (but not limited to) elevator machines, brakes, lighting, ventilation, fire suppression equipment, fire protection, combustible equipment storage and disposal, GFCIs, governors, controllers, proper guarding, and trap doors;
  • Cab equipment, including (but not limited to) car top inspection buttons, stop buttons, proper guarding, safeties, emergency telephones and 2-way communication devices, door operating equipment (door screens, door protection, etc.), floor selection buttons, directional indication devices, handrails, ADA-required elevator equipment or devices, and Firefighters’ Operation Systems.
  • Hall equipment, including (but not limited to) Firefighters’ Operation Systems, call buttons, directional indication devices, and position indicators.

For hydraulic elevators – the kind that are moved up and down the hoistway by a column of pressurized oil – an MCP would include (but not be limited to) everything applicable listed above, and would also include hydraulic valve systems, pumping units, pistons, tanks and reservoirs, additional smoke detectors, additional fire suppression systems, and other equipment specific to hydraulic elevators.

For escalators and moving walks, a typical MCP would include (but not be limited to) safety switches, clearances, demarcation lighting, handrail safety switches (including inlet switches), step alignment, skirt alignment, lubrication, walk on / walk off plates (to ensure they are securely fastened), chains, chain sprockets, and brakes.

Who should have an MCP?

All building owners and managers should have an MCP for each of the elevators, escalators, and moving walks in their building. Even if your local AHJ follows a version of the ASME code prior to the 2000 edition, it’s very much to your benefit to have an MCP in place. You don’t want to discover your elevator, escalator, or moving walk has been put out of service for something that could have been prevented.

ElevatorInfo recently published an article on the importance of periodic maintenance for elevator systems. Regular elevator maintenance checks lead to prolonged equipment life, increased cost efficiency, and improved travel times. Periodic maintenance is equally important for escalators and moving walks.

Who develops an MCP?

MCPs are typically developed by the elevator/conveyance equipment manufacturer or by an elevator consultant. Once you have one in place, your contracted elevator and escalator maintenance company is responsible for following that plan.

Where are MCPs stored?

ASME code requires elevator maintenance records and repair/replacement records must be available for viewing on site in the machine room, either physically stored in the building, or in some cases, available electronically. Your AHJ and local code requirements may require one or the other; contact your AHJ for details.

Final Thoughts

While adopting an elevator Maintenance Control Plan won’t stop every instance of a passenger getting stuck in an elevator, it is the most practical and proactive step that building owners and managers can take to reduce unplanned downtime for their elevators, escalators, moving walks, or other conveyances. Remember – the riding public relies on your equipment to get them safely and efficiently to the important places they need to go.

Contact ElevatorInfo to be put in touch with a local elevator maintenance company that can help you set up an MCP.

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.

Several months ago, ElevatorInfo went to Nashville and visited TriStar Elevator, an up-and-coming independent International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC)-affiliated company. With company headquarters based in Columbia, TN, TriStar elevator constructors perform construction, service, and modernization work across the middle-Tennessee area.

 

“We pretty much do anything at Tristar,” said Roman Sensing, an adjuster/modernization/construction mechanic and member of IUEC Local 93. We met Roman and Michael Halfacre, another Local 93 mechanic who works for TriStar, while visiting some of their active jobsites at an airport, a parking garage, and a bar under construction right on Broadway in the downtown music district.

“Working for TriStar – and just in Nashville – is wonderful,” said Michael., When we asked him why, he said it was TriStar’s family-oriented culture, responsiveness, and focus on jobsite safety. “If you have to call somebody, they answer. TriStar ensures we have a safe jobsite by giving us everything we need to make it safe.”

Roman agreed that TriStar’s focus on safety is an important part of their work from the beginning to the end of each job – something that’s critical given the hazards elevator constructors encounter on their work sites every day. “Typically on a workday we come in, talk about the job and what we are going to accomplish, and how we are going to accomplish it safely. We include all of those steps on a JHA (Job Hazard Analysis),” he said.

Once work starts, there is an ongoing system of checking and re-checking to ensure that no potential dangers are overlooked. “During the process we talk about anything we may have missed on the JHA and then update it, or note anything we may have encountered on a repair or modernization that could become a hazard.”

This is a significant shift for a mechanic like Roman, who came into the trade after being organized from a non-union elevator company a few years back. The company he used to work for offered little to no formalized safety training before they put him on the job. But once he was organized as an IUEC apprentice, he was enrolled in the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP), where elevator constructors complete a four-plus year USDOL Registered Apprenticeship with hands-on training in the classroom, practical labs, virtual simulations, and a major emphasis on safety. (NEIEP training is conducted concurrently with apprentices’ 8,000 hour on-the-job learning under the supervision of a trained mechanic.) Industry-specific OSHA, Arc Flash, proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), American Heart Association Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED, and Scaffold and Access Industry Association (SAIA) Competent Person for Framed and Suspended Scaffolding are just a few of the safety trainings provided for apprentice and mechanic-level elevator constructors.

“I started in the trade about six years ago with a non-union company… the training that I received through NEIEP was much more geared toward safety,” said Roman. “Non-union, not so much. I didn’t really receive much training there as far as safety goes. Very little to none. It was just on-the-job training with the mechanic I was working with…what you should do and what not to do, very vague.”

He continued, “In the (NEIEP) apprenticeship program, they outline a lot of safety issues, a lot of things that may come up on the job. They basically teach you about everything that you might come into contact with or that you might experience on the job. It’s a good base-learning program. Of course you learn a lot more on the job with the mechanics, actually seeing the equipment, but you get a lot of training and knowledge through the programs and the simulations.”

Another advantage to becoming an IUEC elevator constructor that Roman told us about was “. Health insurance – I didn’t have any at the non-union shop – I got health insurance, retirement, annuity, pension, 401(k) – we have all those benefits here with the IUEC.”

The National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan provides the most comprehensive health care coverage out there for IUEC members and their families, without additional out-of-pocket premium costs. This includes medical care, coverage of prescription drugs, mental health/substance abuse disorder treatment, dental care, a vision plan, and even hearing benefits.

Michael, who began his career as an IUEC apprentice after applying to a recruitment at Local 93 in Nashville, agreed that the security his benefits provide for his family is a major perk of the job. “One of the greatest things for me is the benefits package. I have two children, they’re completely taken care of by me doing this for a living. Me and my family are both super-happy about that. And I enjoy the work.”

The conveyance industry’s most comprehensive education and training program, a really good health care plan, and a solid retirement plan through the IUEC’s robust Pension, Annuity, and 401K benefits allow Michael, Roman, and the rest of the elevator constructor apprentices and mechanics at TriStar to keep their minds focused on providing consistent, quality work and attentive customer service. Take a close look at the machine room in the background of the video here – it’s an example of the clean, well-organized, and safe work areas TriStar mechanics pride themselves on. To learn more about Tristar Elevator, check out our interview with company owners Stacey and Brandon Jackson.

To learn more about the advantages of becoming an IUEC elevator constructor, or if you are a building owner or manager interested in hiring an IUEC-affiliated company like TriStar for installation, service, troubleshooting, modernization, repair, or inspection work for the elevators, escalators, or other conveyance equipment on your property, contact ElevatorInfo.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the Elevator Constructor journal.

For over 10 years, the International Union of Elevator Constructors has been a proud member of the Global Power Trade Unions (GPTU), an international organization of power trade workers which includes those working in the electrical trade and the conveyance industry. (In many countries outside of the U.S. and Canada, electrical workers perform conveyance work.) The GPTU includes more than a dozen labor unions hailing from all around the globe—Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, the U.S., and Canada—to name just of few of the participating countries.

The IUEC’s participation came about in 2011 and has grown and evolved ever since. The GPTU holds meetings annually to collaborate as a global union brotherhood/sisterhood to combat the challenges organized labor faces—challenges that know no borders.

This year the IUEC served as the host union for the GPTU’s annual conference, which was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, from June 26-28. The IUEC also hosted the conference in 2016 in Chicago. The conference has also been held in previous years in previous years in Australia, Ireland, Denmark, and Iceland. With the beautiful city of Vancouver as a backdrop, and the hospitality of Local 82, led by Business Manager Mike Funk, the event was set for success from the start, and a success it was.

The conference, with about 40 international delegates in attendance, was organized by the four board members of the GPTU—our own IUEC General President Frank Christensen, Danish Union of Electricians General Secretary Jørgen Juul Rasmussen, Electrical Trades Union (ETU) of Australia National Secretary Allen Hicks, and Connect Trade Union (Ireland) General Secretary Paddy Kavanagh.

The meeting began with a warm welcome from President Christensen, who thanked Brother Funk and Local 82 for their support. He noted that he hoped the meeting would give everyone an understanding of what each trade does and the importance of working together. “You think you are doing things so well and then you go to another country and realize they are doing some things better,” he said. “We can all learn from each other.”

Chairperson Rassmussen also greeted the attendees, noting many things the unions all have in common – and pointing out that it’s the elevator industry that is the truly global industry because most construction companies are domestic, but elevator companies are international. The commonalities among the trades and the international unions that Brother Rasmussen highlighted were safety and health concerns, organizing, inequality and inclusion, and the climate crisis.

A major highlight of the conference was the remarks of special guest Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion. Minister Qualtrough spoke at length about the need to get more people interested in a career in the skilled trades. “Economic growth and near record-low unemployment in Canada have created a worker shortage,” she said. “Demographic shifts and high retirement rates fueling the demand and an ever-growing need to recruit and retrain hundreds of thousands more Canadians into the skilled trades is probably our biggest threat to economic success in Canada.”

Minister Qualtrough added that BuildForce Canada, a national, industry-led organization that provides information and resources to the construction industry, estimates that Canada needs to recruit about 300,000 new workers into the construction industry. She noted that the average age for entrance into the skilled trades in Canada is 26 years old, and only 1 in 15 high school students plan to pursue a career in the skilled trades – which isn’t enough to fill the worker shortage. In response to this, the Canadian government has been aggressive in its investment—nearly $1 billion—in apprenticeship support through grants, loans, and tax credits; helping communities explore and prepare for careers in the skilled trades; and creating awareness of skilled trades jobs. One creative initiative of note is a labor mobility deduction whereby Canadians can claim up to $4,000 per year in work-related travel and relocation expenses.

Minister Qualtrough’s office also oversees inclusivity and diversity initiatives, so she spoke in detail about the importance of ensuring that all who want to work are represented in the labor market. She said that only about 59% of people with disabilities are employed, as compared to 80% of those without a disability, and that tapping into this market could be an opportunity to address the labor shortage. Other groups who are underrepresented in the labor market include women, indigenous people, the LGBTQIA+ community, and BIPOC. “Our role as a government is to create an environment so that everyone who wants to work has a chance to work,” she said. “We need all hands on deck to have economic prosperity.”

Minister Qualtrough closed her remarks by noting the importance of training and the Canadian government’s efforts to provide holistic training opportunities that, in addition to trade training, include human skills training such as writing, reading, communications, problem solving, and adaptability. These are the skills that help people show up to work with confidence. “The government of Canada recognizes and respects the role unions play in addressing labor shortages and the need to establish a trained highly-skilled workforce,” she stated. “We need you!”

ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks spoke to the attendees about licensing, specifically as it relates to Australia’s expected labor shortage. “It’s incredibly important for us to make sure that if we are going to have people come from overseas to work in Australia, they need to be able to demonstrate that they can comply and meet the standards that we’ve established,” he said.

This issue facing Australia is not unlike labor shortage issues in other countries, but Brother Hicks was able to provide a glimpse into Australia’s licensing procedure. In Australia, there is a governing body called Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) that reviews foreign workers’ credentials, training, and work experience. Brother Hicks impressed upon the conference the importance of workers gaining their licensing through TRA before arriving to Australia to work.

Connect Trade Union (Ireland) General Secretary Paddy Kavanagh spoke about the power of joining forces and collaborating on things like licensing, marketing strategies, and codes. He used the example of Connect working with the ETU of Australia and the Australian embassy to offer Australian license training in Dublin, so that Irish electrical workers could arrive in Australia ready for work. Brother Kavanagh believes that the labor force is going to become much more international, so it will be important for qualifications to be standardized. However, he did say that it is important that the standardization of qualifications means that those with lower qualification standards must raise their standards to meet a higher level, rather than standards being lowered to meet others. He added that having a sort of International license would be helpful for unions and contractors to ensure foreign workers are indeed qualified for the job. “The safety issue alone is massive,” he said.

As it relates to codes, Brother Kavanagh stated that in Ireland, labor is outnumbered on code boards by about 12-1 – so they are often outvoted. He suggested that it would be helpful if the GPTU worked to share code ideas.

Many IUEC officers also addressed the conference providing information on the IUEC’s initiatives and programs—Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund Director Allen Spears, National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) Director Dave Morgan, Canadian Elevator Industry Educational Program (CEIEP) Director Dan Vinette, Director of Organizing Pat McGarvey, Assistant Director of Safety Jim Chapman, Regional Director Rusty Gilbert, and Regional Director Kevin McGettigan. The attendees were also inspired by motivating remarks by friend of the IUEC, Retired Navy Seal J.J. Parma.

The conference closed with the attendees eager to reconvene next year. Together the attendees addressed many pressing world issues, such as climate change, the labor shortage, and even the war in Ukraine, and the impact these global concerns will have on the power trades. The solid partnership forged by the participating unions of the GPTU will prepare organized labor for the future, and empower working men and women through strength in numbers. There is much to be done, and these labor leaders are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work for the benefit of all.