'LIFTS ARE DESIGNED TO BE "FAIL-SAFE"
Highlighting the basic safety features of lifts
We refer to the news reports on 20th February 2013 whereby a woman was killed when a lift plunged five floors after its cable snapped in a 10-storey apartment block at the Lumut naval base in Perak.
It is shocking to note that yet another public facility failed to function and killed a woman passenger. We should be thankful the lift was not fully occupied. The loss of a single life is horrible enough. The question that begs to be asked is why did this incident happen? Could we have taken necessary precaution to ensure such incidents do not occur?
The answer is a resounding yes and hinges on a good and committed maintenance programme. For centuries lifts have proven to be effective vertical transportation systems and as engineers we can attest to this. We also know poor maintenance and even negligence can result in mishaps but we do have preventive measures that can save lives.
Let us take a closer look at the safety features of a lift. Each lift has a minimum of five hoisting cables and in the event one cable snaps the remainder four would ensure safe travel in the lift. So why did all five cables give way simultaneously? This wire rope must be properly installed, aligned and calibrated by an experienced technician to function effectively. Even with the snapped hoisting ropes the free falling lift car would be stopped by the mechanical brakes on the main guide rails as the last line of defence before it slammed on the buffer in the pit. What is baffling is how all these safety features failed to work...'
'The IEM hopes that proper investigations will be carried out to determine the cause of the mishap. If there is a need, the IEM will be pleased to offer its services.
Ir. Prof. Dr Jeffrey Chiang Choong Luin
THE INSTITUTION OF ENGINEERS, MALAYSIA'
Rest of the letter:
I wonder if the following tips (forwarded email) would be helpful to anyone using a lift (not knowing the standard of maintenance) in a worst case scenario...
'We never know when and where accidents will happen to us OR to people around us. Read on and I hope this piece of information may help many of us when things do happen to you , your friends and your loved ones. This happened to a friend.
"One day, while in a lift, it suddenly broke down and it began falling from level 13 at a fast speed. Fortunately, I remembered having watched a TV program that taught that you must quickly press all the buttons for all the levels.
Finally, the lift stopped at the 5th level."
Important things to remember.
When you are facing life and death situations, whatever decisions or actions you make decides on your survival.
If you are caught in a lift breakdown, first thought that comes to mind may be 'just wait to die'...
But after reading below, things will definitely be different the next time – should you get caught in a lift:
First - Quickly press all the buttons for all the different levels of the lift.
When the emergency electricity supply is activated, it will stop the lift from falling further.
Second - Hold on tight to the handle (if there is any).. It is to support your position and prevent you from falling or getting hurt should you lose your balance.
Third - Lean your back and head against the lift wall keeping your back in a straight line.
Leaning against the wall is to use it as a support for your back/spine as protection.
Fourth - Bend your knees
Your ligament is a flexible, connective tissue. Thus, the impact of fractured bones ( should it result ) will be minimised during fall. '