Basic Elevator Safety Inspection


The purpose of this document is to provide a brief review of the basic elements of elevator safety and how to ensure that your elevator maintenance provider is kept apprised of any issues requiring remedial attention.

The pertinent fact to remember is that 55% of all elevator problems occur within the elevator entranceway. This area has several components that should be consistently monitored by building personnel to help ensure safe elevator usage by the riding public.

Door Protection: Elevators are protected by a several types of door reopening devices:

  • Infrared Safety Curtains – These devices scan the areas adjacent to the elevator door(s) and automatically reopen the door(s) when the presence of an object is detected. This is the most modern means of door protection.
  • Electronic Photo-eyes – These devices send out two (2) or more fixed beams that cause reopening when someone or something breaks the beam. These are used in conjunction with mechanical safety edges.
  • Mechanical Edges – These devices must make physical contact with a person or object to trigger reopening.

All of these devices are designed to function as safety measures only. They are not intended to provide added convenience for the passengers.

If someone is moving towards the elevator, utilize the door open button on the car control panel to wait for them. The door reopening devices are designed to turn off during the last 2 to 4 inches of travel therefore someone should never stick an object or limb in the path of a closing door.

The average industry waiting time for an elevator is 20 to 30 seconds. This is not a long period to wait in exchange for avoiding an injury.

Elevator Leveling: Elevators are required to stop at each floor within plus or minus ½” of the floor landing.

  • A simple method of assessing that your elevator is approaching the maximum ½” tolerance allowed by code is to draw the sole of your shoe across the landing sill.
  • Caution should be advised to anyone wearing bi-focal glasses. There is often a blurred sight line at the transition point of the lenses. When someone is looking down at the landing sills they may not be able to detect an off level landing.

Emergency Communication: Most elevators have an Alarm Bell and Telephone or Intercom.

  • In the unfortunate event that someone becomes trapped in an elevator, they are often reassured when they can speak to someone by telephone or ring an alarm that will draw someone’s attention. Anxiety is quickly alleviated when someone knows that help is forthcoming.
  • It is also important to have a functioning emergency light in the elevator to avoid leaving a trapped passenger in the dark as they wait for assistance. You can ask your elevator maintenance provider to periodically test the emergency light(s) during their routing maintenance visits.


Take a moment to check the functioning of these devices during your regular routine use of the elevators. Our firm has been retained to serve as expert witnesses in a host of elevator related lawsuits where injuries could have been easily avoided.

Your elevator service company will not be aware of a problem unless they are notified. Check your equipment often and when in doubt, call them!