Otis and CemcoLift brand elevators used in private residences were recalled on Dec. 17, 2020 due to a serious entrapment and death hazard for children.
The elevators contain a space between the hoistway (exterior landway) and the interior of the elevator car door or gate that can entrap a small child. Should the elevator be called to another floor, the child will suffer serious injuries and even death.
Private residence elevators involved in this recall include those manufactured by Otis and purchased before 2012, as well as those manufactured by CemcoLift and purchased from 1999 to 2012.
There have been at least four incidents that involve these specific elevators. Some of these reports included a crushed spine and abdomen, fractured hip, broken arm and feet, as well as bruising to the hands and chest.
However, injury and death by elevator of small children is nothing new. Between 1981 and today, two serious injuries and the death of eight children has been attributed to elevator entrapments.
According to The Washington Post, this was the first-ever recall of residential elevators by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. There has been a lot of pushback from the elevator industry, despite knowing of the entrapment that has been problematic.
Robert Adler, chairman of CPSC, said the recall “..should serve not only to avoid needless tragedies but also stand as a strong precedent for entire industry.”
For years, safety regulators have been suggesting a simple fix of $100-200 to fill the door gap with a space guard. Even parents of children who have been injured, have been unsuccessful with their pleas to the industry.
Jacob Helvey was 3 years old when he was injured by an elevator in his Atlanta home in 2010. The Hartz family of Little Rock experienced the devastating loss of their 2-year-old son Fletcher, who died from being entrapped in an elevator in 2017.
Otis began taking action and issuing warnings about the danger of elevators, and retroactively fixing elevators after the death of 8-year-old Tucker Smith. The boy was crushed to death by an Otis elevator while on a family vacation in Maine. In their settlement, the Smith family was able to secure a promise from Otis the company would beef up its security standards.
Though the recent deaths were not attributed to Otis elevators, and though Otis stopped selling elevators in 2012, the company is still willing to work with the CPSC on safety recalls.
Consumers and residential managers and/or staff should disable or block children’s access from these elevators. Otis has offered a free inspection and installation of safeguards if necessary.
There are nearly 5,000 units that are involved in this recall.
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