Elevator Hoistway Safety And Need For Vigilance

elevator repair

Elevator hoistway safety has long been one of the top concerns of safety experts in the elevator industry. Elevator safety experts have been advocating for both employers and workers prioritizing this aspect together. Following guidelines, complying with rules and regulations, as well as educating workers on the ins and outs of hoistway safety are all part of the equation of improving safety and saving lives.

In collaboration with other safety experts, Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund (www.eiwpf.org) has put together a comprehensive guide to improving elevator hoistway safety. This thorough work is a result of several decades in the industry and a collaboration with other experienced elevator safety experts. Please check it out below.


Always follow the company safety policy, always perform a JHA/JSA and remember the OSH act of 1970 – General Duty Clause


  1.  Each employer
    1. Shall furnish to each of his employees’ employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.
    2. Shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.
  2. Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.

Field Employee Safety Handbook

8.3 Hoistway Screening

Where an elevator is operating in a multiple hoistway, and construction or modernization work is to be performed in an adjacent portion of that multiple hoistway, that portion of the elevator’s hoistway where the work is to be performed shall be fully separated. The material used for this separation shall:

  1. be equal to or stronger than 0.0437 in. (1.118 mm) dia. wire.
  2. have openings not exceeding 1 in. (25 mm).
  3. be so supported and braced so as to not deflect into the code required running clearance of the adjacent car; and
  4. be in accordance with local code.

8.4 Overhead Protection

  1. Overhead protection shall be provided in the hoistway and in any other work area where there is exposure to falling objects. This protection is to prevent all parts of the body from being struck by falling tools, debris, small parts, etc.
  2. In general, overhead protection can be achieved by one or a combination of the following examples:
    1. False cars with roofs/netting designed and selected by the company.
    2. Installation of an overhead barrier directly above the work area which covers all areas where field personnel have to stand or reach to install hoistway components.
    3. Protection of all hoistway openings above the work area (e.g.: installation of hoistway doors or protective screening)
    4. Sealing off corridors to prevent other trades from working near or passing by wall openings
    5. Walls are in place and all hoistway doors closed
    6. Guarding all holes in the machine room and secondary levels
    7. Prohibiting simultaneous work in hoistway and machine room with unguarded holes
    8. Prohibiting simultaneous work in common hoistways where no hoistway screening exists between hoistways
    9. Prohibiting storage of materials within 6ft. (1.8m) of hoistway openings.
  3. All cases where objects have fallen down the hoistway must be immediately investigated and reported by the mechanic in charge. Once the cause for this occurrence has been identified, it will be mitigated by the company or the MIC.

4.2 Guardrail Systems

OSHA compliant guardrail systems for car tops, open hoistways or escalator wellways shall have a top rail 42 in. ±3 in. (1067 mm ±76 mm) high, with a mid-rail 21 in. (533 mm) high at centerline and toeboards. 3-1/2 in. (90 mm) high, with no greater than 8 ft (2.4 m) between uprights and shall be capable of sustaining a force equal to 200 lbs. (890 N) at the toprail, 150 lbs. (667 N) at the midrail, and 50 lbs. (222 N) at the toeboard. When 200 lbs (890 N) is applied, the top rail shall not deflect lower than 39 in. (991 mm)

  1. OSHA compliant removable guardrail systems with toeboards shall be installed at elevator hoistways or escalator wellways typically by the General Contractor, after either rough or finished floors are in place.
  2. Signs shall be installed warning against removal. It is also recommended that a sign indicate “Caution: Workers in Hoistway.”
  3. After hoistways are enclosed, and before permanent doors are installed, openings shall be protected by removable guardrail systems (including toeboards).
  4. If it is necessary to remove the guardrails, be sure to replace them before leaving the area. When a guardrail is removed to perform a job, a personal fall-arrest system must be utilized when a fall hazard is present.
  5. Wire-rope guardrail systems are not recommended for guarding hoistways. Where used, post spacing shall not be greater than 8 ft (2.4 m) and they shall not deflect to a height less than 39 in. above the walking/ working level when a force of 200 lbf (890 N) is applied. Warning flags shall be attached every 6 ft (1.8 m), toeboards shall be provided and they must be easily removable for access to the hoistway at the terminal landings.
  6. If guardrails are not properly maintained in place, notify your Superintendent/Manager and the General Contractor immediately.
  7. On new installation, modernization, or major repair jobs where the general public is present, solid barricades at least 8 ft (2.4 m) high shall be used to fully enclose the work areas, open hoistways and escalator wellways.
    They shall be properly secured to avoid unauthorized access.
  8. Some cartops are equipped with guardrail systems. Never climb over or stand on guardrails. Be aware of pinch hazards and the risk of being caught between a
    guardrail and hoistway equipment.

4.4 Elevator Maintenance Barricades

  1. Barricade shall be positioned to restrict public access to the hoistway where doors are open greater than 5 in. (125 mm).
  2. Barricade shall be a minimum of 42 in. (1067 mm) high.
  3. Barricade shall cover entire entrance area.
  4. All sections shall be connected.
  5. A system shall be in place to keep the barricades rigid.

Section 10

<h2″>10.1 Scaffolds and Stationary Work Platforms

  1. Scaffolds and stationary work platforms shall be erected in accordance with approved safety standards under the supervision of a Competent Person (see Section 21).
  2. When used, wooden or synthetic planks shall be marked as scaffold-grade.
  3. The assembly and disassembly of scaffolds and stationary work platforms shall be done using a safety harness and lifeline anytime there is more than a 6 ft (1.8 m) fall exposure.
  4. Ladders are required to reach working surfaces more than 2 ft (610 mm) above or below the point of access.
  5. In hoistways, at least two 2 in. (51 mm) by 10 in. (254 mm) planks must be used with a minimum of 6 in. (152 mm) of bearing and a maximum of 12 in. (305 mm) of overhang beyond the bearing surface. The span shall not exceed 10 ft (3.05 m) for a single plank. The planks shall be cleated to prevent movement.
  6. No planks shall be of such length as to extend into passageways where there is a possibility of planking being bumped by the movement of people, materials or equipment through the area.
  7. Under no circumstances shall others be permitted to use the Elevator Company’s scaffolds, scaffolding materials or stationary work platforms unless approved by your Supervisor/Manager. Under no circumstances shall the elevator company use other trade scaffolds or stationary work platforms unless approved by your Supervisor/ Manager.
  8. If it is necessary to have workers below the work area, make sure cover protection is provided. A minimum of 3/4 in. (19 mm) plywood on 2 in. (51 mm) planking shall be used.
  9. Never erect scaffolding or stationary work platforms in an active hoistway, unless the car has been completely shut down and the mainline disconnect switch locked out and tagged.
  10. Do not climb cross braces on scaffolds.
  11. When using tubular welded frame scaffold, the sections shall be joined together using the lock pins provided for that purpose.
  12. Spacing between ladder rungs shall meet OSHA standards.
  13. Scaffolds shall be equipped with baseplates.
  14. Scaffolds and stationary work platforms shall be tied into the building with rigid connectors spaced 4 times the minimum width at intervals not exceeding 26 ft (7.9 m).
  15. Unless the scaffold is fully planked and equipped with proper guardrails and toeboards, the employee shall be tied off using a personal fall-arrest system.
  16. Scaffolding shall be inspected for damage and proper assembly each day before use.

Overhead Protection

Never work at staggered elevations in the same hoistway or common hoistways without overhead protection and / or hoistway screening.


Falling object protection. [ 1926.451 (h)]


In addition to wearing hardhats each employee on a scaffold shall be provided with additional protection from falling hand tools, debris, and other small objects through the installation of toeboards, screens, or guardrail systems, or through the erection of debris nets, catch platforms, or canopy structures that contain or deflect the falling objects. When the falling objects are too large, heavy or massive to be contained or deflected by any of the above-listed measures, the employer shall place such potential falling objects away from the edge of the surface from which they could fall and shall secure those materials as necessary to prevent their falling.


Where there is a danger of tools, materials, or equipment falling from a scaffold and striking employees below, the following provisions apply:


The area below the scaffold to which objects can fall shall be barricaded, and employees shall not be permitted to enter the hazard area; or


A toeboard shall be erected along the edge of platforms more than 10 feet (3.1 m) above lower levels for a distance sufficient to protect employees below, except on float (ship) scaffolds where an edging of 3/4 x 1 1/2-inch (2 x 4 cm) wood or equivalent may be used in lieu of toeboards;


Where tools, materials, or equipment are piled to a height higher than the top edge of the toeboard, paneling or screening extending from the toeboard or platform to the top of the guardrail shall be erected for a distance sufficient to protect employees below; or


A guardrail system shall be installed with openings small enough to prevent passage of potential falling objects; or


A canopy structure, debris net, or catch platform strong enough to withstand the impact forces of the potential falling objects shall be erected over the employees below.


Canopies, when used for falling object protection, shall comply with the following criteria:


Canopies shall be installed between the falling object hazard and the employees.


When canopies are used on suspension scaffolds for falling object protection, the scaffold shall be equipped with additional independent support lines equal in number to the number of points supported, and equivalent in strength to the strength of the suspension ropes.


Independent support lines and suspension ropes shall not be attached to the same points of anchorage.


Where used, toeboards shall be:


Capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 50 pounds (222 n) applied in any downward or horizontal direction at any point along the toeboard (toeboards built in accordance with Appendix A to this subpart will be deemed to meet this requirement); and


At least three and one-half inches (9 cm) high from the top edge of the toeboard to the level of the walking/working surface. Toeboards shall be securely fastened in place at the outermost edge of the platform and have not more than 1/4-inch (0.7 cm) clearance above the walking/working surface. Toeboards shall be solid or with openings not over one inch (2.5 cm) in the greatest dimension.