The Chicago Occupational Accident Attorneys as Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Represent Elevator Workers
The job duties of the elevator installer or repair or include installing, fixing and maintaining elevator systems, moving walkways, escalators, and a whole host of varying lifts. These technicians are also referred to as elevator mechanics, elevator constructors, installers, assemblers, and repairers of moving walkways, chairlifts, and other elevating and transporting systems.
The typical duties of Elevator Workers generally focus on working in a specialty field that might involve installation, repair or maintenance work. These employees usually focus mainly on repair and maintenance have extensive knowledge of hydraulics, electronics, and electrical components compared to installers. Continuous education in the elevator field is essential to successfully installing and maintaining computerized control systems, where the components change every year to increase safety and improve functionality.
Once the elevator construction is completed correctly, installers and repairers working from an elevator Company can conduct routine maintenance to ensure the lift remains in proper working order. Their efforts typically include greasing and oiling moving parts, adjusting equipment to optimize its performance, and replacing worn-out parts. Other duties include:
- Read and comprehend blueprints during the installation process to determine the job expected and the materials required,
- Install and repair the components of an elevator including the doors, control systems, motors, and cables.
- Connect the elevator’s control panels and electrical wiring to electric motors and other components inside the unit,
- Adjust the safety controls, door mechanism, and counterweight, and test all equipment that is newly installed to ensure it operates according to specifications, and,
- Be sure that all newly installed equipment is tested to the manufacturer specifications,
- maintain service records and outlying repair tasks for easy reporting and analysis, locate malfunctioning motors, brake systems, switches, control systems, and other equipment in need of replacement or repair,
- Check to ensure that all building codes and safety regulations have been met
- Install the elevators operational doors to the heavy door frames
- Adjust the counterweight, safety control, door mechanism, and other necessary components including brake linings, ratchet seals, and valves.
There is a significant downfall to working as an elevator repairer. Most of these employees work on call 24/7 to respond to elevator emergencies or conduct routine repairs during the overnight hours, and on holidays and weekends. Also, the worker is required to do the majority of their duties in tight places that are often considered highly dangerous. The employee is often susceptible to falls, muscle poles, strain backs, and burns.
Serious Hazards of an Elevator Worker
While many newly installed elevators used the best materials available, older elevator shafts are typically covered or lined with asbestos fibers and asbestos-containing materials. When working in the shaft, the asbestos is easily disturbed in place causing asbestos fibers that are released into the air to hazardous levels. Asbestos was used for its highly rated fireproof resistant minerals, both in the manufacturing and building construction industries.
In the last couple of decades, scientists have found that breathing airborne asbestos fibers correlate directly to the development of many respiratory diseases. Individuals working in elevators may encounter elevated levels of disturbed or deteriorating asbestos-containing materials during an average shift. There are measures that the worker and his employer can take to minimize the potential risk of asbestos exposure including the need to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). This equipment might include respirators, protective clothing, and work boots. Other serious health concerns include:
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals and materials
- Exposure to high-voltage electricity
- Working in confined spaces
- Working at higher elevations
- Conditions including carrying and lifting heavy tools and objects that could lead to physical injury
- The generated noise that could produce hearing loss
- Fall hazards
- Slipping and tripping hazards
- Serious eye injuries associated with airborne dust debris, welding equipment, and cutting tools
- Exposure tape falling objects and tools that could cause significant injury
- Risk of severe electrical shock and electrocution
- Exposure to asbestos, epoxies, adhesives, and degreasing/cleaning solvents
- Exposure to exhaust fumes generated by welding, diesel-powered equipment, and gas motors
- Exposure to airborne silica, dust, and carbon dust released by motors in generators
- Exposure to fungi
- Injuries from pests
- Exposure to biological hazards
- Exposure to toxic machine fluids, lubricants, and greases
Elevator Workers’ Wages
The annual employment statistics maintained by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2016 revealed that there were 11,110 elevator workers employed in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. The data reveal that most elevator workers earned on average $41.69 per hour, or $86,710 every year. This job-related income is significantly higher compared to national averages. See Chart
Elevator Worker Fatalities and Severe Injuries
Without taking protective security measures, Elevator Workers are highly susceptible to falling down the elevator shaft, being overcome by fumes in improperly ventilated areas, or suffering injuries and obstructed areas. Exposure to flammable chemicals and liquids that can harm workers. Some cases involving severe injuries and fatalities include:
- Case 1: August 2017 – An elevator worker fell into an elevator shaft and died. Just before 6:00 PM on August 15, 2017, an elevator worker “open the elevator hoist-way doors using the elevator hoist-way key. The elevator car was not at the landing of the floor where [the worker] gained access and was between the second and third floors. There were no visual indicators to show where the elevator was located and the employee fell approximately 20 feet down the elevator shaft.” The blunt force trauma to the head and neck killed the employee.
- Case 2: August 2017 – On June 20, 2017, at approximately 4:00 PM, a worker employed by “a counter company, was engaged in the kitchen counter installation at a multi-employer construction project for a three-story residential building.” The worker “was moving a countertop to the second-story [when he] walked backward into what he believed was a closet, but it was an elevator shaft.” The worker “fell into the shaft and landed on the lower level concrete floor. Emergency services were called, and [the worker] was transported to the hospital. He was admitted and treated for fractures to the vertebrae and his right heel and bruising.”
- Case 3: June 2017 – A 27-year-old worker installing a pipe elevator incurred a crushed finger. On May 15, 2017, at 4:15 PM, a worker “employed by a construction company was working at a job site [and] placing a twelve-inch elevator on a column pipe. The elevator opened unexpectedly and crushed [the worker’s] right index finger in a pinch point. Emergency services were called, and [the elevator worker] was transported to the hospital. He was admitted and treated for a pinch injury and laceration to his right index finger.”
- Case 4: April 2017 – A 50-year-old worker fell down an elevator shaft and sustained fractures. On April 26, 2017, at 9:00 AM, an elevator worker “was raising the height of an elevator shaft doorway 4 inches on the second floor of the building under construction. After the header was raised, the employee had to trim a fiberglass insulation board, which had been installed on the interior of the elevator shaft.” The worker “was working from in A-frame ladder and was using a utility knife to trim the insulation board.” As the worker “leaned into the inside of the elevator shaft to cut back the fiberglass insulation board, he lost his balance and fell over the railing into the elevator shaft and landed on the concrete floor below.” The injured worker “sustained a fractured elbow on his right arm and a fractured heel to his right foot. He was hospitalized for his injuries.”
How to Stay Safe
There are certain steps that every elevator worker, repairer, maintenance crews, and the installer can do to minimize the potential risk of suffering serious harm or death on the job. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommends workers to:
- Never play loud music
- Avoid being distracted by headphones and cell phones
- Avoid placing yourself in harm’s way
- Never horseplay or play a practical joke on others in the job place
- Never work under the influence of alcohol or drugs at any level
- Use only proper tools that perform the job quickly and efficiently
- Where personal protective equipment (PPE) including a hard hat, gloves, and protective boots
- Obey every safety sign
- Take breaks when needed to avoid fatigue and overexertion
- When working with electricity, never jump a fuse
- Never leave any tool, component, lubricant, bottle or any other item at the top of the elevator car
- Never climb on a guardrail two uses a ladder to reach higher areas
- Never climb the ladder while holding a tool in your hand
- Use only OSHA-compliant ladder equipment to do any job
- Ensure that the ladder remains in proper working order
- When working at heights, where PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) including fall protection and horizontal netting
- Wear an anchor connector, bodywear, and a connecting device according to the manufacturer’s directions to ensure it prevents injury
- Avoid using any other item like a chair, crate or bucket as a ladder
- Never paint a ladder and cover its rating
- Ensure that only one individual is on the ladder at a time
It is up to the worker’s supervisor, foreman, managers, and company owner to conduct routine job site inspections. These efforts reduce the rate and severity of injuries. The owner also must develop an effective safety culture at the job site to proactively and thoroughly manage all safety conditions. The operators must also provide sufficient employee training on how to communicate problems of concern involving safety with everyone on the team.
Safeguarding the team often requires safety enforcement where every employee is required to reinforce compliance with the rules to “do the right thing.” A well-run safety program well includes verbal warnings linked with termination, and automatic suspensions for serious violations even if it is a first-time violation.
The occupation as an elevator technician or installer can be extremely demanding, which is likely one the majority of workers are men. Without effective safety measures remaining in place, the element of danger in this occupation is high. In some incidences, where the worker was severely injured through the negligent actions of their bosses, the victim will file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against every individual at fault for their injuries, along with managers and surveyors, and any other third party who might also be responsible for damages.
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