Boston Business Journal Special Report: Lax Elevator Inspections Pose Safety Threat

June 20, 2019

Thousands of elevators in buildings across Massachusetts are going uninspected long past the expiration date on their most recent safety checks. And it’s a problem that’s getting worse even though state officials have been pledging reform for years. The Boston Business Journal takes a fascinating – and alarming – look inside the Massachusetts elevator safety program.

Key findings of the BBJ Special Report by Greg Ryan:

  • From 2016 to 2018 nearly a dozen people in Massachusetts were injured on passenger elevators whose inspection certificates had expired.
  • The Massachusetts State Auditor’s office – going back to 1986 – has issued reports five times revealing that a high percentage of elevators are overdue for inspections.
  • Currently more than 4,500 of the state’s estimated 42,000 elevators do not comply with inspection requirements.
  • The number of calls to the Boston Fire Department for passengers trapped in elevators rose 31 percent from 2015 to 2018.
  • The inspection compliance rate for elevators in Massachusetts is worse than any other New England state except for Connecticut.
  • More inspectors are likely needed to handle the growing backlog.
  • Bright spot: The governor and state lawmakers have budgeted a nearly $1 million increase in funding for elevator inspections in the coming fiscal year.

“Greg Ryan, who reported this story for us, got a tip about problems with the state’s elevator inspections late last year. To get a handle on how bad the situation was, he needed to file multiple public records requests with various agencies, and the project just snowballed from there,” said Boston Business Journal Managing Editor Don Seiffert, who worked with Ryan as the project editor. “The central questions we sought to answer were how much of a health and safety threat the state’s lax inspection record poses, and why, after these inspections have been cited as a problem in Massachusetts for decades now, this remains such a chronic issue.”

Read the entire BBJ Special Report here:

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