Records reveal thousands of elevator and escalator violations

Records reveal thousands of elevator and escalator violations

by Connor HansenThursday, July 25th 2019AA

 An inspector checks out an escalators for violations. (KOKH)

Elevators and escalators everywhere, from hotels to schools and hospitals across the metro area, racked up thousands of code violations in the past year and a half.

In that time, inspectors found more than 15,000 code violations across the state.

Many of them called for routine fixes, but a handful of them pointed out potentially dangerous issues, like problems with brakes designed to keep elevators from falling.

Video taken in 2015 shows workers helping people out of an elevator stuck between floors.

That was in the Oklahoma County Courthouse.

Inspectors have found 25 elevator violations in that Oklahoma County building in the past year.

Oklahoma City inspectors took us along for a visit to Will Rogers Airport to get a behind the scenes look at one of their escalator and elevator tests.

“It’s got a switch here, turns the escalator off,” said Jim Burrell, one of the inspectors.

Step by step, inspectors check on different sensors.

They’re things you probably don’t think about, but sensors are meant to stop shoes, sandals or even fingers from being sucked into an escalator.

During elevator inspections, routine violations are common.

Across the state, hundreds of elevators owners have been written up for things like misplaced ceiling tiles or for not cleaning out dirt and debris.

But since the beginning of 2018, four different elevators in the metro area have been cited for problems with their braking systems.

“It’s the brakes in the system itself that keep the elevator from falling,” said Mike Miller, Oklahoma City’s Inspection services superintendent. “And when you get a braking system that fails, that’s when it’s most severe.”

State records show elevators at both the University of Oklahoma in Norman and the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City had missing parts from their brake systems.

Inspectors say they were bad enough to shut them down until they could be repaired.

They say, in other buildings, they’ve run into anything from frayed cables to doors that close too quickly or too hard.

City of Oklahoma City Inspection Services Superintendent Mike Miller says that OKC is the only city in the state that has its own inspectors.

“It really is a very important job, and it’s not one that the city of Oklahoma City feels comfortable with letting go to someone else to do that work,” Miller said.

It also keeps its own records.

The city couldn’t show us thousands of its elevator and escalator records, since they’re all kept on paper.

City workers are in the process of scanning them into the system.

“We’ve got just about completely caught up with all the commercial plans and all the residential plans and now we’re down to elevators and escalators,” Miller said.

City inspectors say any time you think there might be a problem with an elevator or escalator you’re riding, you can reach out to the City Action Center. They say an inspector will come out in the next day or two.

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