On August 6, 2019, the CPSC released a statement that warns of the potential safety hazard posed by residential elevators in homes, townhouses, and vacation properties. A 2017 safety standard review concluded that there should be no more than four inches between the elevator carriage door and the door to the elevator shaft for residential elevators. If the gap is any larger, there is a risk of child entrapment between the two doors, which has led to 8 deaths and 2 severe injuries since 1981. Newer elevators account for this standard and are designed with the four-inch rule in mind, but older models have never been recalled to remedy the gap.
The warning from the CPSC puts the onus on homeowners to find and fix this problem the industry has been aware of for years. It does nothing to protect visitors or renters in these homes and will allow manufacturers and installers to profit from fixing the problem they created. The statement acknowledges the risk of home elevators without establishing a recall or mandating a method of remedy. Many are calling for the CPSC, with residential elevator manufacturers and installers, to issue a recall and to ensure that a retrofit is installed by an elevator technician to lessen the door gap.
The CPSC and residential elevator manufacturers should issue a recall and actively contact consumers to decrease the gap between elevator doors. In doing so, more consumers will be made aware of the problem, more elevators will be fixed, and more children will be kept safe from crush injuries and risk of death. If you have a residential elevator, read the warning, confirm your elevator meets the current standards, and report any problems with the elevator at www.SaferProducts.gov. For travelers or renters of Airbnb’s or vacation homes, please avoid rentals with older elevators if you have young children. Check with the owner to confirm that any elevators are up to current code.