In the elevation sector the stupor. Nobody wants to talk about the accident on Tuesday while its causes are being investigated, but everyone agrees that it is something “weird“. From the Association of Companies of Components for Elevating Devices (Aecae) they comment on the exceptional of what happened and even more since in April 2016 the rule 81:20, the biggest regulatory change in the last 20 years.
One elevator technician of one of the largest companies in the lifting sector – which prefers not to give its name or that of its company – tells EL ESPAÑOL that it is “very rare” That fall the ground of an elevator, the hypothesis that prevailed on Tuesday afternoon and has now been replaced by the possibility that one of the elevator walls would give way, according to him police report to which La Mañana de TVE has had access.
The worker insists that, in any case, the Safety mechanisms of these devices differ according to what type of elevator and they are numerous and foresee all kinds of circumstances. “To take an extreme example, with a normal cable elevator. If a person were to get into the machine room on purpose and cut the cables, the elevator would not fall to the bottom, since there is a system that detects the increase in speed and causes wedges to come out that block the elevator against the guides ”, he explains. “It’s incredible,” he adds.
If a person were to purposely sneak into the engine room and cut the cables, the elevator would not fall to the bottom.
Spain is the country where the most people live in height, two out of three people, and therefore the country with the most elevators per capita in the world, almost 20 for every thousand people according to Eurostat data. However, elevators are also one of the artifacts with the most Security controls by the authorities, which makes the accident that killed two teenagers in a building on Calle Hermanos Bécquer in Madrid incredibly rare.
Spain has more than a million elevators of which 500,000 are more than 20 years old.
It seems almost impossible but it can happen
The possibility to suffer a fatal accident in an elevator is, approximately, of the 0,00000015% according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, which recorded five deaths annually of passengers for a population that made more than 8 billion elevator rides.
Most of the accidents related to an elevator happen to workers, both in the sector (installation or maintenance) and in construction.
According to data from the European Association of Lifts, in the EU there is the paradox that the fatal accidents affect private users more than workers, despite the fact that in the number of accidents, professionals dominate the statistics.
In Spain, the latest data from Feeda, from 2016, speak of 141 elevator accidents, 136 mild and 5 severe, mainly motivated by uncontrolled movements of the cabin and poor leveling. Did not occur no victim.
Causes for an elevator failure
The main cause for an accident of this type is that the passenger falls into the void of the tunnel if when you open the elevator door you cannot find the same. The solution is as simple as putting a lock.
It can also happen that the passenger (especially children) stays caught between the access door and the elevator at the time of accessing it. This is almost impossible to happen since the new installation guidelines yes regulate regulatory distances between the cabin and the access door
Another possibility is that elevator traction cables slip on the pulley the throats of it being worn. This risk is avoided with a adequate maintenance program.
It is also possible that a knock in the extremes top or bottom for failure of safety limits, which is overcome with a bumper under regulatory conditions.
That a bad rescue maneuver in which the passenger is trapped when wanting to go out or fall into the void it would in theory be another option. The telecare guarantees a saving protocol in which this case cannot occur.
The elevators have parachute and this could not act in the eventual fall of the cabin, being call traction cables or that they skid, and that the elevator falls at a speed 20% higher than the nominal speed.
Finally, it could happen that electrocutions or knocks in the room machines, for not having the engine room in conditions and / or with objects that should not be there.
According to current legislation, elevators must be checked every four years in buildings with more than 20 homes or more than four floors, which is the case of the Hermanos Becquer property. As reported by the Community of Madrid, the damaged elevator had passed the periodic inspection in August 2015, so it would not have to undergo a new examination until 2019.
In addition, the maintenance was carried out in April of this year, without detecting any irregularities that would predict the tragedy.
Therefore, no one can explain what could have happened and we will have to wait for the police and expert reports to reveal the causes of an unusual accident in the sector.