Fact Finder: State Not Keeping up with Elevator Safety Checks

Reported by: Joe Hart
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Updated: 6/27/2013 6:56 pm
Chances are when you hop on an elevator you don't think too much about your safety but you might after this story.
Our Fact Finder Team has uncovered the state is falling behind on its safety inspections. 
And no one realized it until we brought it to their attention.

"It was your call that really prompted us to say why don't we take a closer look at this as part of a larger comprehensive project ?" said university spokeswoman Jane Tors.  She says our investigation served as an important wake-up call on the issue of elevator inspections.

"It was well - timed.  We had a number of elevators that were either due for an inspection very soon or their annual inspection date had recently lapsed," Tors said.

One in particular caught our attention.  A sticker showing one elevator on campus was due for a safety inspection way back in 1982 .   Tors said that sticker was not accurate.

"It had been inspected more recently  but the inspection sticker in that elevator was clearly outdated," Tors told News 4.

But many other elevators on campus were overdue for their inspections.  Out of 121 elevators, our investigation found only 26 had up to date state safety inspections and permits, according to the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations.
After we brought it up, the inspection program was put in high gear.

"That's where we really have some work to be done to make sure we're caught up on those inspections," Tors said.

It is important to point out the university does its own elevator maintenance but is still required to have each one inspected by the state on an annual basis, and it is those state inspections which have fallen behind.  The university says it will work with the state to keep those inspections on track and up to date in the future.

  It is a matter of us nudging them and them nudging us," Tors said.

But this is not just a campus issue.  The Nevada Divsion of Industrial relations says this past spring, 933 elevators in various public buildings statewide were "overdue", meaning they did not have current safety permits.  

About half of those had been inspected but were awaiting mechanical test results.

But those elevators were still operating without current permits.

"We can't assume an elevator is unsafe because tests haven't been completed," said Don Jayne, the administrator of the division of industrial relations.

So why have these inspections fallen behind ?  Staff turnover is cited as one reason.  But another problem is the agency does not have the proper computer software to track its own inspections.

"That's right.  The current computer system we have is not effective at all," Jayne said.

We asked him how the public should feel knowing so many of these inspections are behind schedule ?

"I think they should know we recognized a problem,  we're trying to deal with the problem as best we can," Jayne told us.

There is some good news to report. The Nevada Division of Industrial Relations did get funding for a new software program to track elevator inspections.  They will also be able to hire someone whose job will be to oversee the inspection process. So things are getting on track but as of tonight,  more than 800 elevators statewide are still operating without current permits.

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