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Lack of safety awareness behind fatal elevator accidents, experts say

Elevator manufacturers say that safety rules often ignored and that a ‘communication gap’ exists

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Following two fatal elevator accidents in the UAE, questions have once again been raised about the safety of elevators in areas of heavy traffic, such as shopping malls and commercial buildings.

Big Project ME spoke to a few elevator manufacturers based in the region to find out what could have been done to prevent the tragedies.

Shiva Kumar, AGM for Quality and Safety at ETA Melco Elevator said it would be unfair to react until further technicalities pertaining to the cases were found.

“More information is needed on what caused the lift crash in Sharjah,” he said when asked about a 35-year-old maintenance man’s accident. “It could have been a faulty elevator; perhaps adequate safety measures weren’t taken into account when he was sent in for the cleaning job.

“Nevertheless, there seems to be the possibility of a communication gap between the parties involved which, if present, needs to be resolved,” he added.

“In most cases, it is ignorance that leads to these accidents,” said Frank Fernando, product manager at Kone Middle East.

“For instance, it is worth questioning where the parents were when she wandered to a service lift she wasn’t meant to be around,” he says with respect to the death of a five-year-old girl who was wedged between a concrete wall and the lift in a Ras Al Khaimah supermarket.

“It could have been a case of negligence, but with current information, it is unclear as to whether it was the parents’ carelessness or the supermarket’s,” Fernando pointed out.

“Dos and don’ts regarding elevator safety are clearly mentioned inside and around the elevator, as is stipulated by government codes,” he added, highlighting the lack of awareness by the general public as to general safety requirements in elevators, as evidenced by the common use of elevators by young, unaccompanied minors, the exceeding of weight limits and over-crowding.

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