Recall issued after children continue to die, become entrapped in residential elevators

National News

WASHINGTON — (WECT) – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced new efforts this week to eliminate deadly hazards from residential elevators. Three leading residential elevator companies are conducting a voluntary recall of their elevators. The CPSC is warning consumers about using elevators manufactured by a fourth company that has declined to cooperate with the recall.

As WECT previously reported, young children can become entrapped in the space between the exterior landing door and the interior elevator car door or gate if there is a hazardous gap. Three children were entrapped in this way during the summer of 2021, including a 7-year-old boy who died while using the elevator in an Outer Banks vacation rental home. In other incidents, children have suffered multiple skull fractures, fractured vertebrae, traumatic asphyxia and other horrific and lifelong injuries.

Elevator experts told WECT that unlike commercial elevators, private elevators in people’s homes are unregulated in North Carolina. That is especially problematic considering the growing number of vacation rental homes equipped with elevators. Many renters have a false sense of security that the elevators in these homes are safe to use since they are being rented out to the public. In reality, inspections insuring the safety of those elevators are not currently required.

Bella Elevator, Inclinator Company of America, and Savaria Corporation are conducting three separate voluntary recalls of nearly 70,000 residential elevators.

“Consumers should keep unsupervised young children away from the recalled residential elevators and contact the manufacturers for instructions on how to measure for space guards to correct any hazardous gap. Space guards will be provided free of charge and assistance with space guard installation will be provided upon request,” the CSPC advised consumers who owned the elevators in question. These elevators were installed between 1979 and 2021. For specific information on affected model numbers, click here.

CPSC is warning consumers to stop using elevators manufactured by a fourth company, Waupaca Elevators, after it refused to cooperate with a recall.

“CPSC is aware of one incident from 2011 that involved a Waupaca residential elevator. A 4-year-old child became trapped between the hoistway door and the Waupaca model 014 elevator car door. The child was found dangling in the elevator shaft, upside down, with his foot lodged between the elevator car and the elevator shaft on the third floor. The child suffered physical scarring and permanent vision loss as a result of the incident,” a CPSC press release states.

“CPSC urges homeowners with Waupaca residential elevators to lock the elevator, or lock all exterior landing (hoistway) doors to the elevator, to prevent children from accessing the elevator until a local elevator service company or qualified inspector can examine the elevator to ensure that the space between the doors complies with… requirements…. Consumers may visit https://naesai.org/search to find a qualified inspector in their area.”

Waupaca previously recalled residential elevators in October 2018 and issued a warning in July 2021 for a hazard associated with the elevators falling unexpectedly, resulting in serious injuries and one death. That warning came one month after a WECT Investigates report published about catastrophic injuries suffered by homeowners and vacationers in two separate Waupaca elevator falls in Brunswick County.

Since 2018, Waupaca has been working with its dealers to install overspeed safety devices on recalled elevators. Waupaca informed the CPSC that it does not have the financial resources to do another recall to address elevator gaps. However, Waupaca is urging owners of its elevators to make arrangements for the inspection and repair of elevator gaps.

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