Troubleshooter find entrapments, outdated safety inspections for - News, Weather & Sports

Troubleshooter find entrapments, outdated safety inspections for KY elevators

Jack Coleman Jack Coleman

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - How safe are the elevators we ride every day? A review of thousands of elevator inspection records reveals more than 1,000 elevators across Kentucky that were overdue for safety inspections, some of them in buildings where riders were getting trapped. The state believes it's doing a good job considering the resources it's working with, but people who use some of the out of date elevators disagree.

Step on an elevator at the Dosker Manor Apartments in Louisville and you might be walking into trouble. Logs from the Louisville Fire Department reveal there were 10 elevator entrapments at Dosker Manor since 2012 as state elevator inspections there lagged. The public housing complex was on a list of 1,045 passenger elevators across Kentucky that had not been inspected in a year at the time of a data analysis in March 2013. That's an apparent violation of Kentucky's elevator inspection law which states passenger elevators have to be inspected once every 12 months.

Jack Coleman, deputy commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction, the agency in charge of elevator safety, said he has 12 inspectors for more than 12,000 elevators. Coleman said doing inspections on each of them within that one year window required by lawmakers is impossible.

"You look at the number of regions that we have and how spread out these things are," Coleman said, "I don't think that's realistic."

According to government records, there were overdue safety inspections for elevators at Jewish Hospital and Frazier Rehabilitation Center despite 14 elevator entrapments since 2012; overdue safety inspections for elevators at a downtown apartment building that's had four entrapments since September 2012; and an elevator with an overdue safety inspection at another downtown apartment building that got temporarily stuck on a day a reporter went to survey it.

Records also revealed overdue safety inspections for elevators at the KFC Yum! Center, as well as local schools and government office buildings. Still, Coleman said he's proud of the job his department is doing.

Coleman said the review of the state's records revealed inaccuracies in the state's own elevator inspection data base and that many of the elevators on our list were either out of service or not yet in service. Coleman also said give inspectors a 30 to 60 day grace period to get elevators inspected beyond the one year time limit to help with the backlog. Factor all that in, and Coleman said the number of overdue elevator safety inspections is much smaller than it appears. In fact, Coleman said Kentucky beats the national standards.

In 2012 there were only 37 injuries on Kentucky elevators and escalators, and many of those were unrelated to mechanical issues.

"Our whole department is about public safety," Coleman said. "To make sure that these elevators are up to par that they run properly, that they're safe, and that they're being inspected in a timely manner."

Coleman said the state does inspections and it's up the buildings to make repairs. In fact, when inspectors find violations they don't check back to ensure those violations have been corrected unless it's a critical issue like frayed wires or bad breaks.

Spokespersons for Dosker Manor, Jewish Hospital and the KFC Yum! Center said the issues with their elevators have been corrected.

Note: Some of the elevators on these list may have been inspected since the above date.

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